Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ends of the World

I've come to an interesting realization lately. It seems that the world has already ended.

No, no, not literally. But much older science fiction, especially visual science fiction, likes to place the end of the world (or the hideously dystopian future that makes you wish the world had ended) in the early twenty-first century. In fact, technically, Judgment Day was yesterday...didn't see any nukes, did you?

Recently, writers have gotten smarter. Dating the end of the world has gone somewhat out of style. Ending the world, however, has not. I've written my own share of pieces in which the world ends. I rather prefer viral plagues. Or escaped bio weapons. In 'That Last Margarita' we never even find out how the world actually ends...but somehow, there's one survivor. Yeah, that's another favorite motif. The single survivor.

And, of course, various cults have, over the years, predicted the end of the world on a certain date. There's a preacher driving around the country right now saying the rapture will occur on May 21 this year and the world will end on October 21. The popularity of the 2012 conspiracy theory may also say something. People like to envision the end of the world. Why?

Perhaps it's symptomatic of not being happy with their own lives. I have known people who start reading Revelations when they're suffering from a bout of depression. And heck, I have had the 'stop the world I want to get off' feeling myself...although most of the time I tend to direct it more positively and start asking people if they have a starship in their pocket. But the end of the world is popular. Fiction describing it sells well. Of course, there are always survivors. Because people have to hope there will be survivors. Well, except in extreme horror.

Truth is, the world isn't likely to actually end any time soon, even if the weather and earthquakes lately might make one wonder. But we have to take precautions to make sure our world doesn't end. Not enough of them are being taken. I really hope we can keep the end of the world fictional for a very long time to come.