Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Forever War

An interesting thought just occurred to me as I was reading Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel The Forever War: post-apocalyptic zombie movies, which are so much fun to watch, are really a form of FANTASY, I think.

In The Forever War, the future is a mess. Severe population issues, rationing, overwhelming crime and unemployment, helplessness, desperation - all things that are not fun to think about. However, in stories where there is only a small team of heavily armed individuals with all-access passes to the world at large, and a completely guilt-free license to shoot things - things which should be dead anyway - the only issue to deal with is survival, which is fun. Therefore, zombie movies are fun, and that's why everyone kind of fantasizes about a post-apocalyptic world.

My own post-apocalyptic scenarios (there are two - one short story and one vision for a story) are grim environments, and in the unwritten one, overpopulation is pretty much THE central issue, so I guess I've followed Haldeman, being more cynical about the future. However, it would be fun to write something as liberating as I am Legend, or a similar Twilight Zone episode, where you find yourself alone, using whatever you can find. Everything is new.

I now see zombie movies as a guilty pleasure. Others must feel the same way, if only subconsciously. I suspect it is that kind of subconscious desire that can undermine a society, and cause people to follow leaders with irrational visions, like fundamentalists and their dreams of an apocalypse.

That is really the biggest fault with religions these days, right? By design, most religions look FORWARD to the end of days, because that is when everyone is rewarded according to their faith, and those who are most blind/drunk/misleadingthemselves with faith are those who most look forward to it, and NOW that a small group of people could actually fuck up the entire world with weapons of mass destruction, they could bring about that end themselves, if they thought they should, which is a scary thought.


skmckinn said...

The garden, when she had first seen it, had been a revelation, like the pulling up of a buried memory, the same way she pulled up the words. “I have seen this thing before; I have been here before.” But it was a collective memory, more like history. “Oh yeah,” she thought, “we know how to grow food to live.”

She hadn't stopped at the first garden, though. She had just become aware, and she had made it her new mission to find them—gardens. Just a few leggy tomatoes grew there, in the first one, and a cucumber vine. She grabbed a huge and hard and bitterskinned cucumber and bit into it, it warm from sun, and the realness of its flesh—slimy and the opposite of acid, the plant sugar, not sweet sugar—almost made her sick. Then she ate the whole thing and wasn't thirsty, for the first time in days. It was like eating water. Better than water. She remembered watermelon. “Watermelon,” she said aloud, and laughed. And stood up, full and straight, squinted in the sun, and strode off to try another yard, to find a watermelon and to break it open.

Digitizdat said...

Wow, that's fantastic! Is that a Marygay Potter clone in like an epilogue to The Forever War? Or is it Kate Maddalena in some esoteric future - with her machete on her back, and a dirty bike laying on the bushes?