Meteors, and zombies, and wars, oh my!
The end of the world is coming…or so I’ve been told for as long as I can remember. When I was young(er), the world was going to end when a meteor struck the planet. I never paid any attention to such things, why should I? I was young(er) and immortal. But one day, I was compelled to read a book called Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
Here is a summary (all descriptions taken from Amazon)
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival–a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known….
I haven’t been the same since reading this book. I also credit it (partially) for my desire to become a food scientist. After the comet hits, and the world as we know it has ended, the survivors are left to fend for themselves under very bleak circumstances. There were some havens, but to be allowed in, you had to possess some kind of useful skill. Was someone like Donald Trump getting in? Hardly. Did it matter if you were a famous movie star before the meteor hit? No, it did not. After reading the book, I thought about my own useful skills and decided I better get some. Being a food scientist is very useful.
More recently, I read a book by the wonderful Cormac McCarthy called The Road:
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. It kept me up at night, or woke me up long after I was finished reading it, and I would wake my husband and remind him, “Remember, if you hear sirens, if you hear the end of the world, FILL THE BATHTUB!” And sometimes I would lament “Why? Why didn’t she stay with them?” But I won’t explain that one for those of you who haven’t read it and may want to (you should).
And even more recently, I read a book called World War Z, by Max Brooks.
“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”
Now I have to worry about the impending zombie apocalypse. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. I read this book with low expectations. Zombies? Seriously? And I ended up loving it. This turned out to be a very good book in my opinion, well written and engaging. It truly reads like a history of a war hard fought and devastating. Did you know they are making it into a movie? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816711/
Post-apocalyptic themes intrigue me. My own book The Energy Crusades takes place after the earth has nearly been destroyed by the oil wars (the book cover is currently being designed). Guess what vocation is a necessity for the new world in my story? That’s right, food science. Here is a little excerpt:
Professor Baal put me through a series of tests in order to measure how far along I was in my studies. She led me around the lab, questioning my knowledge of various ingredients, natural preservatives, and functional foods. As an Athlete, I had a pretty firm grasp on food science. It was imperative for me to understand the way foods worked in the body, which ones would provide energy, which would help me sleep, and which would aid my performance on the courts. As a crusader, I needed to understand edible plants, foods to eat or grow in different climates, and which had healing properties.
The world as we know it is coming to an end and I hope you have made some preparations. If you are lucky enough (actually, if you are unlucky enough) to survive, you need to have some useful skills. Knowing about food and its properties will probably be very helpful. And if you want to enter the gates around my house for sanctuary, make sure you have something to offer, or, as in the words of Ghandalf, ‘you shall not pass!’
But first, read the books I mentioned, they are awesome!