this Esquire article — is nothing if not interesting in its creativity. Based on a literal interpretation of the Second Epistle of Saint Peter (for God, a day is like a thousand years), and given that God gave Noah seven days' warning before the first flood, and given that the flood occurred in 4990 BC (no idea how he settled on that year), this Camping dude "reasonably" concludes that 7,000 years later is 2011 (if you include year 0, presumably), and "May 21 corresponds to the 17th day of the second month in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the original Judgment Day." Man, that is some A+ delusional logic!
So, of course, this has gotten me thinking about end-of-the-world literature. There seems to be a dearth, at least in my reading experience. Perhaps that's because Hollywood's got that market cornered, churning out awful blockbusters like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 just as fast as Roland Emmerich can churn out recycled story ideas. But here's a selection — and I'm interested in hear yours too. (Though there is a fine line between apocalyptic fiction and dystopian, let's try to stay as close as we can to the former.)
5. The Stand, by Stephen King — I'm no great King fan, but I read this in high school and loved it. You know the story here, right? A killer virus leads to a post-apocalyptic battle of good vs. evil. The characters — King's signature — really make this story, though. I still have nightmares about Randall Flagg. (Now seems like as good a time as any to mention that, yes, The Passage is also an example of the genre — just pointing it out now, so you don't have to comment about what an idiot I am for forgetting it. ;) )
4. The Footprints of God, by Greg Iles — This smarter-than-your-average thriller has scientists storing a human brain on a computer, with near-disastrous results, i.e. the "Great Collapse" of the universe into a single consciousness. Sounds a bit fantastical, yes, but Iles is a master at bringing you along with him — delivering an impressive Philosophy 101 course along the way.
3. The Omega Theory, by Mark Alpert — I really enjoyed this thriller about a bunch of religious fanatics trying to destroy the world with a nuclear bomb so they can all go to heaven. The novel asks the question: If the universe is nothing more than an incredibly complex computer program, what could cause it to crash?
Everything Matters, by Ron Currie, Jr. — The first real example of literary fiction on my list, Currie's novel begins with its protagonist Junior Thibodeau born into a world of which he knows the exact date of its demise. So Junior has to go through life trying to make meaning out of a seemingly purposeless existence, or as he says at a particularly low point of his adulthood, "...life has never been any great f#$%ing shakes in my opinion. In fact, it's always seemed a messy and heartbreaking and overall pointless affair." With a few flaws, this is still a solid novel — I'd recommend it.
1. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy — This is the standard by which all post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world novels should be judged. It is bleak, but beautiful.
So, if you have a second or two between finishing up the items on your bucket list before tomorrow, I'd love to hear about your favorite end-of-the-world books. What's on your list?
(Of course, if we silly sane people all are wrong and this Camping fellow is on the money, I look forward to seeing you all in the aisles of the Barnes & Nobles on the other side...)