When the Apocalypse Comes I Know Where to Run

I enjoy science fiction. Let me clarify. Really good, classic or soon-to-be classic science fiction. I’m talking H. G. Wells, Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury kind of science fiction.

It all started with Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” And then it was short stories by Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson. Or “Dune” or “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Even “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I was hooked.

And I liked that while most of what I read seemed so very real, it wasn’t – really. After all, it was science fiction.

And then a friend lent me “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. I knew, a chapter in, that I probably shouldn’t finish it. I knew it would be disturbing. I resented the scare tactic forward by Newt Gingrich and the “Not If It Will Happen But When Will It Happen” afterward by Captain Bill Sanders of the US Navy. I’m not convinced that this is a classic in the making. It’s an easy, straight forward read, sure. Yet there is not much depth to the writing style.  There are some (hopefully) typos.

But intriguing? Yes.

Captivating? Yes.

Like a nasty car wreck on the side of the road, I couldn’t NOT look. I finished it in two sittings. And when I finished? I was glad I hadn’t read it just before bedtime.

But almost seven hours after finishing it, I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t help wondering if, God forbid, my children or even I might experience something this horrific in my lifetime.

When I was in my teens, AIDS was being realized as more than just a “gay disease.” I remember talking to my dad and asking what was the point of bringing more children into such a depressing world. My father smiled and said, “In my day, it was polio. In yours, it’s AIDS. For your children, it will be something else. Life always finds a way to move on.”

So, upon finishing “One Second After” I think, OK. It was “War of the Worlds” back in the 50’s. Today, it is “One Second After.” For my children? Something else?

Apocalyptic thinking is not my style. I don’t have canned goods, bottled water and ammo in my basement. But this book has me thinking I should.

And then I shake some good sense back in my head.

I can not live a life based on fear. I can’t plot each day, imagining each horrible scenario that could be avoided and take the proper precautions.

But I wear a seatbelt. I have insurance. I take my vitamins.

What is reasonable preparation for the worst and what is going overboard?

Bomb shelters in the 50’s. Preparedness or overboard?

My brother-in-law with stock piles of water, canned goods and ammo in his basement? Is he prepared or just crazy?

Well, at least I know where to run should the apocalypse come.


Filed under Books

23 responses to “When the Apocalypse Comes I Know Where to Run

  1. unabridgedgirl

    Just reading this post makes me all antsy. I can’t read books like this, they make me uneasy and depressed. (But I do love Ray Bradbury!) Our family has food storage and 72 hour emergency kits, but, you know…it’s not like we have ammo and stuff.

  2. Steven Harris

    I love good science fiction too (controversially I would include Robert Heinlein as one of the good ones but it often gets people ranting at me). I hadnt heard of ‘One Second After’ but will look out for it now. More horror than scifi, it was James Herbert’s ‘Domain’ which terrified me on first read.

    • You won’t hear any rants from me. I loved “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Thanks for the warning about ‘Domain.’ After the way ‘One Second After’ affected me, I think I’ll pass.

      • Steven Harris

        One of the most frightening things about ‘Domain’ was the opening description of nuclear devestation. One of the explosions went off over a gas station and was graphically described as I recall. Guess where I was working and where I actually read those pages? Yep, in a gas station! ‘Starship Troopers’ did nothing for my phobias about bugs either 😉

  3. My husband loves scifi, horrors and thrillers but I cannot read any such books or watch movies of that ilk. But I do sleep easy at night as a result 🙂

  4. bearyweather

    There is an inner human need to survive and a curiosity about what will happen after a world destroying event .. what life will be like. However, is wanting to survive the event a logical thing? Surviving would be the worst horror, don’t you think?

  5. It’s funny because I love Ray Bradbury and most of the other authors you mentioned. In fact, I teach “The Martian Chronicles” to my students every year. But reading that book would probably scare the hell out of me. I can’t talk about the world ending in any realistic sense without going into a slight panic attack. In fact, I am sort of starting to have one now… Let me wrap this up by saying I think you are brave to have read the book!

    • After my lack of sleep last night, still mulling over the book, I wouldn’t exactly call myself brave. I’m feeling pretty silly right about now – and really, really exhausted.

  6. I love stories of the apocalypse. So exciting and unreal. A good break from the mundane reality. I’ve got to check this book out, thanks!

    (By the way, I don’t take these stories to heart and believe they’re true, even if they’re based on true things. I don’t prepare for the future. In fact, if any of these come true–I’ll be the first to die because I’m so NOT prepared.) 😉

  7. We actually started stockpiling things in our basement, but it wasn’t because of the Apocalypse, or global warming, or the Mayan calendar. Kroger was having a sale. When the Apocalypse comes, feel free to drop by. We’ve got lots of canned corn.

  8. “I can not live a life based on fear. I can’t plot each day, imagining each horrible scenario that could be avoided and take the proper precautions.” I really liked these lines in your post. It is life, right? Your going to have uncertainty, but can live your days dreading what may come around the corner.

  9. I love being prepared. Or, the idea of of it any way. I love emergency supplies and knowing you have everything you need on a beach trip or camping expedition. I like feeling resourceful, economic, ready.

    But those same things also cause me stress. It can take a lot out of you getting prepared. So I can’t even imagine taking it to that next level. But I would like to know someone who has so I can ride her coattails if I need to!

  10. I can’t read science fiction for thus very reason, sometimes it comes into the realm of possible. Frankly, I’d rather not know. It’s the same reason I’ll never see a psychic. Even the illusion of probably freaks me out.

  11. What an interesting subject!

    I suspect those who “overprepare” (according to some) do so as a result of the way they were raised, and the experiences they’ve had. With a bit of age, some people also become more fearful. Others let go of fears.

    I imagine there will always be those with provisions stacked in their basements, those who live like there’s no tomorrow, and most of us somewhere in between – like you – flossing, taking our vitamins, and trying not to lose ourselves at either end of the spectrum.

  12. Joe

    The closest I came to stockpiling for the apocalypse was when Boston recently had a boil water order and I bought way more bottled water than I needed. It was pandemonium in every store, and it turned out the water was fine to drink all along. Nevertheless, it was pretty scary seeing the slight panic and chaos.

    I also liked your dad’s response that every generation will have its panics and fears. I think we always think our current fear is way worse than anything that came before us. It’s like, there’s no way the Cold War was as scary as today’s terrorists, right?

  13. I’m not a science-fiction fan, although my hubby is. In my youth (“back in the day”) I used to watch “Twilight Zone” and I did love the very first “Star Wars”, but that’s as far as I go.

    I see no point in living in fear. I avoid things that might make me fearful. Does that make me an ostrich?

  14. There will always be those that spread Apocalyptic stories. My guess is when the actual end-of-the-world Apocalypse occurs, we won’t really need to worry about provisions. In the meantime, I think if something catastrophic will happen, it will come from a natural disaster that affects power grids, water supplies, etc. The closest man-made catastrophe I can imagine in the near future is an economic system collapse. I definitely live for tomorrow, making sure that in the case of a tornado, earthquake, blizzard, power grid collapse or economic disaster, we have the means to survive until things can get fixed. Am I fanatical about it? No. Just thinking ahead. 🙂

  15. Like all things, I think it comes down to balance. It’s good to think about things…it’s good to be prepared. But you’re so right that we shouldn’t live in constant fear. That’s no kind of life.

    We have some food and water stored. Just in case. It helped a lot when a student loan came through. It helped another time when I was airlifted to a hospital five hours away and my husband had to run the house himself (he didn’t have much time for shopping). So I vote for the Be Prepared, Not Scared line of thinking.

  16. OK, what on Earth happens in this book? I’m not a sci-fi lover, but I may have to read it!! These apocalypse type movies/books freak me the hell out! Did you see The Road? Yikes!

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