Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Apocalypse Nao

So I recently read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, while my girlfriend was prepping for the upcoming Watchmen film by reading its source material. The latter involves the nature of superheroes set against the alternate history backdrop of a world where political tensions between the US and the Soviets are edging closer to nuclear war, While the former is the harrowing tale of a man and his son traveling to the coast across the U.S. 10 years after an unexplained cataclysm. Tales of this sort have been told since Mary Shelly’s 1826 The Last Man or, technically speaking, much, much, earlier.

But what’s the point of all of this? Why is humanity so enthralled by the depiction, fantasy and, in games, participation in apocalypse? I mean, clearly popular culture is rife with the apocalypse in a variety of forms, we’ve been destroying it in stories and prophecy pretty much it since it began. The stories go from war and acts of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, to religious, sci-fi, horror and fantasy representations of the end of the world, depicted in a wide range of media including novels, comics, film, television and video games. Considering how old the idea of the apocalypse is it’s certainly created some of the most imaginative and terrifying imagery I’ve seen.

The Large Hadron Collider still freaks me out abit

While Apocalyptic Fiction has a long pedigree there has also, for quite some time, been a similar genre in the gaming world. As far as games themselves are concerned it pretty much started with Wasteland, probably the first Post Apocalyptic Video Game and the undisputed Granddaddy of the genre, directly inspiring The Fallout Series with the most recent entry being 2008’s Fallout 3.

I don't want the future to look like this

Then of course we have film. Starting with Wells’ Things to Come, going the B-movie route through the 50’s and 60’s and then regaining prominence with Mad Max in the late 70’s and soon becoming mainstream with the Terminator series and Kevin Costners hard-on for Post-Cataclysmic adventure, capping off with The Matrix before moving away from Wars and bombs and towards zombies and plagues through the likes of Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and I Am Legend. It seems people are fascinated with the end of the world.

In recent years of course Environmental Apocalypse has taken the stage. The Day After Tomorrow, Japan Sinks, the upcoming 2012, the adapation of The Road, The Happening, and even Wall-E. These films are all moneymakers on account of the growing concerns regarding our environment…well except The Happening.

Insert obvious joke relating 'Apocalypse'
and 'M. Night Shyamalan's career'

With all of the available post apocalyptic musings, scenarios, games, film and literature I have read or heard about I can safely say I would not like to see one on the real. An apocalypse is a tragedy on a vast, and horrifying scale, but it brings with it the idea of starting new and on a bare slate where everything is destroyed, leaving a scattered few to rebuild from the ruins which seems to be where alot of the...let's say charm

So, as cool as trading some pre-apocalypse artifacts for a clean jug of water, a hunting rifle and a fur hat sounds, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to take part. I mean, it sounds like a really shitty time. Luckily there’s these guys.

Until Next time make a point of going out in style,



  1. Best Apocalypse ever... Y The Last Man... *gleefully eyes his newly purchased unread copy of the final installment of the trades with anticipation*

  2. Even scarier than the Large Hadron Collider?

    The Large Modron Collider.

  3. I was going to mention Y: The Last Man, as Ampersand is the best comic monkey ever but I felt my lists of things where everyone does was getting heavy.

    Also, the very idea of a Large Modron Collider is a thousand more horrifying than 12 liches on the moon with enhanced fireballs.

  4. The ending of Y was sad... *wipes tears out of eyes*

    I personally seem to have an especially affinity to Post-Apocalypse tales, I consider Y the Last Man to probably be the best comic I've ever read (Yes, I liked it more then Watchmen) and my favorite movie is Children of Men, which I know I've discussed with Brendan, who while he enjoyed it, didn't share my absolute love of the film. I think with me, and my particular choice in post-apoc media is the redemption. As Bradan has pointed out to me, Children of Men isn't a particularly enjoyable movie, it is something you bare, you endure through it, there's little catharsis in it, and while Y has more catharsis then Children of Men, it's very similar in a lot of ways. But both Y and Children focus on the same theme, the quest for redemption. It's a concept that strikes me to the very core, the idea that through grit determination and simply doing the right thing, that humanity can earn it's redemption. Simply by not succumbing to the horrors of the world, the heroes of both Y and Children give humanity a chance to see future generations. It's a concept that strikes me as particularly well... human. I think this is made even more apparent in Children of Men, where non of the protectionists actually kill a single antagonist.