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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 33/100: The End - 50 Apocalyptic Visions from Pop Culture That You Should Know About ... Before It's Too Late by Laura Barcella

— feeling terminator
The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About...Before It's Too Late - Laura Barcella

If you are a fan of post-apocalyptic/apocalyptic stories, make sure to have your TBR and TBW (to-be-watched) lists handy -- plus Google if you want to check into any of the non-book/movie suggestions featured in this book.

Despite being a long-time fan of the genre, there were tons of books and movies I either had never heard of, or had heard of but didn't know exactly what they were about. The format is the same for every entry -- it sets up the plot/scenario, and then includes notes about how likely such an apocalypse is, what impact the work had on the culture/later works, and what inspired the creator. The tone is casual and slightly ironic, clearly written by an enthusiast of the genre. Although mostly featuring books and movies, there are also some apocalyptic visions from artwork, theater, and music included. (The theater ones bummed me out a little because it's the hardest to get a hold of -- but now that I know these apocalyptic plays exist, I'll keep my eyes open for whether they are ever performed near me.)

It would be easy to criticize this book for all the stuff it left OUT, but one of its strengths is that it creates a somewhat manageable collection of apocalyptic visions, unlike the "1001 ..." book series that is pretty much overhwelming (which is why I guess you get "until you die" as the deadline). This book could serve as a handy guide to someone who is just getting into the post-apocalyptic genre, or a current enthusiast who might want to fill in the gaps. It also gave me a sense for why some of the books/movies in the genre became such classics.

The book reinforces the fact that there really aren't a ton of scenarios that have been explored for the world ending -- pretty much every piece in the book falls into one of the following categories: nuclear war, alien invasion, asteroid from space, zombies (zombies seemed a bit overrepresented), climate change, and plague. It's in the way these themes are rendered that you might glimpse something new.

Readers should be warned that this book is totally ruthless about spoilers -- it looks at each work as a whole, which usually includes giving away how the story ends. So if you are very anti-spoiler, you might want to skip entries for pieces you haven't read/seen or just read the first couple paragraphs. I have so many things on my to-watch/to-read list that I figure I'll forget the spoilers by the time I get to them, anyway. :p

This is not a long book, but I found it to be best enjoyed reading just a couple entries at a time -- otherwise, they start to blend together a bit.