I grew up in the fifties, when we learned in grade school to “duck and cover” (hide under our desks) for protection from an atomic bomb blast. Not unsurprisingly I had frequent recurring nightmares about that very thing. In fact, I kind of expected it to happen, which may be why, once I discovered science fiction, I found myself drawn to post-apocalyptic literature. It was almost as if I were studying so I would know how to survive the collapse of civilization.
After I became a professional writer, I wrote a post-apocalyptic trilogy of my own, over a period of thirty years. (See "How I accidentally wrote a 300,000-word Trilogy".) I did a lot of thinking and a lot of research working on the main premise of the series: what would happen to our society if all modern technology suddenly and permanently disappeared? In my series, The Pandora’s Trilogy, this catastrophe is caused by a recombinant-DNA disaster that results in the disappearance of all petroleum and petroleum products. Most of us don’t think about how very dependent we are on fossil fuels for more than motivating our cars. A vast number of manufactured objects--including clothing, cosmetics, household objects, and electronics, are made wholly or in part of oil or plastic or other petroleum derivatives.
In my trilogy many other terrible events, including widespread genetic mutations (due to the failure of containment systems on biological experiments) and mass extinctions and genetic diseases (due to the recombinant-DNA disaster) also plague the unlucky survivors of the original “Change.” It’s a kind of dark-ages life: primitive… brutish and short. The three main characters of my trilogy each work in different ways to try to make the present better and help create a future that is less desolate. Though many animals we know now are gone, evolved forms of some creatures, including camels, housecats, and elephants, are important actors in the story.
I realized after I had written the second of the three novels that my imagined apocalypse was in fact a kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy. No, I didn’t wish for the collapse of civilization, but I realized that if a disaster such as the one I created should occur, it would permanently eliminate the possibility of nuclear holocaust. The third novel in the series, written 35 years after the first two, even ends on a note of hope for the future. No, things can never be as they once were; but humanity and the remaining animals will be able to live in a recovering ecosystem with enlightened leadership, a reduced human population, and a visceral knowledge of the mistakes that had been made in the past and must never be made again.
The Pandora’s Trilogy is available on Kindle as an e-book “box set,” which offers all three novels and some bonus material. The three novels are available separately, as ebooks and paperbacks, on Amazon. All are free to read on #KU. You'll find links in the right-hand column of this blog.