End of World Subcategories: Man vs Machine!


No, THIS is my favorite! (who am I kidding – they’re ALL my favorite). Have been contemplating the “robot uprising” for a looong time, ever since my imagination was captured, at the tender age of 16, by the bittersweet paradox of Kyle Reese travelling back in time to save a young and innocent Sarah Connor from the clutches of Schwarzenegger’s Cyberdyne Systems series T-800 Model 101 Terminator, who also came back to the 80’s to kill her before she was pregnant with John Connor, the savior of the future, only to discover, by the end of the movie, that Reese ended up —SPOILER ALERT!— the father of John Connor.

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In doing a little cursory research, there is a ton of pop culture out there with the “man vs. machine” theme, most of which don’t lead to any kind of end of the world as we know it, either soft or hard – scenarios where robots turn on their human masters on an individual level: think HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey or Sonny in I, Robot. This trope is also abundant in sci fi tv series, from Star Trek (the Borg!) to Dr Who (Cybermen!…and even K-9 turned on the doctor at least once), to the recently-cancelled Extant (both aliens AND emotional AI!).

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The times where technology actively brings about an apocalyptic event are less frequent, but prom-inent enough to have their own subcategory – usually, it’s outright AI and robots taking over, but I’m super interested in coming across more original ideas: in the series Revolution which, though it admittedly had MANY flaws, we eventually find out it was nanotechnology (perpetrated by greedy humans, of course) that caused everything electrical to fail, thus plunging the world into literal darkness as well as a new dark age. In Wargames, the government frame Matthew Broderick hacks into nearly starts WWIII but the humans are able to stop it before it happens. The cybermen in Dr. Who (like the Borg in Star Trek) don’t necessarily want to get RID of humanity…they merely want humanity to assimilate and join/expand their numbers.

I’m curious to see new ways (in FICTION)  in which humanity has to deal with machines getting too smart and turning against us in new ways. How ‘bout an AI at the CDC tipping over a plague jar? Or deliberately contaminating oceans/crops with poison or blight? I mean: robots don’t have to eat, and don’t catch human diseases. We could be easily eradicated this way, and they wouldn’t actually have to destroy the planet via nuclear means. Thoughts?

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Books: Dies the Fire by S.M. Sirling, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Argo by Rick Griffin

Movies: Terminator series, Matrix Series, Resident Evil Series, Metropolis

TV Series: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Revolution, Battlestar Galactica, Westworld, Dark Angel, Dollhouse

End of World Subcategories: Celestial Impact Disaster


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OMG, but I LOVELOVELOVE disaster movies of this type! Especially the ones that at least partially follow through with global carnage. The carnage is a MUST…and usually, in this type of film, we usually get a lot of precursory damage to local cities, aka smaller meteorites raining down on LA as a harbinger of the asteroid to come in Armageddon; the Space Needle in Seattle being taken out due to an earthquake, etc. It’s why I go often to even the crappiest-looking of disaster-y apocalypse films. Granted most of these are not usually POST apocalyptic, because most of the literature/films etc. don’t typically address being a survivor in the aftermath, just the lead-up and ensuing (usually abbreviated by the central heroes) carnage immediately post impact.

Interestingly, I remember watching a science program (can’t remember which, but this article also goes into some depth) a few years ago which discussed how rare the evolution of intelligent life on a given planet actually is, and how well-positioned in the universe our Earth is, not only its position relative to the sun’s orbit (warmth! crop growing! energy!), but its position as a smaller planet with several giant planets further out in the solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus take a lot of comet/asteroid impacts that would devastate other smaller planets like Mars, Venus and our blue gem. In fact, some scientists theorize the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars is actually the remnants of an ancient planet, possibly destroyed by some kind of celestial impact! This program went on to pontificate that while it’s likely we are NOT alone in the universe, existing, life-sustaining planets out there may actually not be as numerous as we might imagine…but I digress.

These films/movies usually tend to be leading up to the disaster, rather than dealing cometwith the aftermath, so technically aren’t usually POST apocalyptic…but I felt like I needed to include this subgenre anyway, because I enjoy watching some of the carnage wreaked. While Deep Impact in and of itself was a bit snorry, I wish they’d explored more of the aftermath of the comet strike – humans succeeded in diverting MOST of the comet, but a chunk still broke off and crashed into the ocean, causing an EPIC tsunami, and there were also thousands of people holed up in an underground/mountain shelter…after the strike, the president (Morgan Freeman!) talked about rebuilding, but then, since it was a 2-hour film, it had to end on this hopeful note. However, what kind of havoc did it wreak on earth’s oceans, for a start? How did the geography of the world change with regard to giant tsunami? Did this strike affect our ecosystem in interesting ways, triggering environmental collapse of any kind? They didn’t go into that. But I’m still curious.

          Seeking a Friend for the End of the World ended up being a surprising little gem of a film – also pre-apocalyptic, leading up to and ending with moments before an asteroid strike. I think it was meant to be humorous (because hello: Steve Carell!) however, it ended up being a really sweet story and presenting an alternative viewpoint counter to the rioting and freaking out we normally see when the public finds out disaster is imminent. Sure, there was rioting and freaking out. But there were also people who still got up and went to work, because they didn’t know what else to do. They still mowed comet 2their lawn. Steve Carell, with the help of his manic pixie dreamgirl neighbor Keira Kneightly went on a search for The One That Got Away. It was really reflective and sweet, and of course, the two leads ended up kinda falling for each other, but it never felt gratuitous, and then the world ended anyway.

I’d definitely be interested in something that presented us with a more truly post apocalyptic view of this type of disaster, but really, what I’ve discovered about this type of thing is that surviving humanity, when left to its own devices, basically descends into exploitation, usury and violence, which is discouraging, but considering the way the political climate is going right now, not at all surprising. What do you think?

Books: Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Films: Armageddon, Deep Impact, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Melancholia

TV Series: Salvation, You, Me and the Apocalypse, Aftermath, Impact, The Last Train

Inconvenient Times

seattle-sunset-instagram-chalo16          I seem to get derailed from my original goal (completing these effing Subcategories before I do anything else!) a lot by current events these days, because I guess truth is stranger (and more frightening) than fiction, lately. Postapocalyptic fiction is seeming less and less cathartic and more and more an instruction manual.


  • There is a LOT of yelling back and forth between Lord Dampnut and Kim Jong Un about flexing their giant, nuclear penises at each other. I am hoping it is just a lot of flexing. But it could also result in an actual, small-scale nuclear conflict. Which is not only bad for anyone who is in the strike/fallout zone, but also bad for


  • Climate change, which is happening. Like, NOW. I saw Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel last week. Went to the movie theatre mid-afternoon to escape the blistAl Goreering heat and smoke…Seattle, last week, which normally has some of the best air quality in the country for a big city, had unhealthy air and was compared with Beijing, due to wildfires in British Columbia and eastern Washington, and the heat wave was making it worse. Al listed fires as a direct result of global warming. We had some epic, red, nuclear-looking sunsets, though (see above). Hope it’s not a preview of things to come. What does seem to be coming, though, is


  • Social Apocalypse & Dystopia. Most notably, in Charlottesville, VA, but also in Seattle, on Sunday. WHAT??? In SEATTLE? But I thought Seattle was…yeah. I am proud of Seattle for lots of things, but we still have lots of work to do. If I was not subverting through art all weekend, I’d have been marching with the counter protesters. Nazis,marching freely in the streets, with full cop protCharlottesville.Nazisection. Wow, must be nice to be white dudes, eh? Also, white dudes should probably start to realize despite the fact they are in power, they are also in the numeric minority, so they might want to start taking that into account. Yes, I know, #NOTALLWHITEDUDES. Because, most of the white dudes I know are pretty awesome and empathic and actually give a crap about the planet and other people not like them, but I am seeing many on television and social media right now who do NOT. For them, I say: Look out. There are more of us than there are of you.

So, these things have been on my mind a LOT during the past week. I’ve discovered where my closest fallout shelter is, and many useful tips on what to do if you are in the fallout zone, both of which I will likely post very soon as a PSA…I mean, they’re talking Guam, but I feel a little uneasy being in a big city on the west coast of the U.S.

I also learned about “rain bombs”, or the more scientific term, microburst – global warming causes water vapor from the ocean to evaporate into the atmosphere, the water pressure builds and builds as the clouds are travelling, and it dumps a giant water bomb onto land, looking just like an inverted mushroom cloud. See one here.

And I’ve seen a LOT of ugly uncles on other people’s Facebook feeds justifying the marching Nazis and their hate. I mean: I’m a Jewish Latina, (so, basically, I’m a non-person and walls should keep me out of the US) and more importantly, an artist, and I have friends of every color, creed, gender ID & sexual orientation, we are all in their crosshairs. Democracy and freedom are in their crosshairs. Because they believe that “Some animals are more equal than others.”

I’m also optimistic that this is the burning fever before the cooling; the raging fire before the lull. This is the last gasp of the patriarchy hanging on for dear life, and good GOD they are tenacious f*ckers! But their ignorance and hatred can be defeated. The dinosaurs will die out.

I just hope we have a world left when they finally do.

End of World Subcategories: Campocalypse Now! (The Wacky Apocalypse)

Grumpy cat     Armageddon isn’t supposed to be funny…or is it? The fact that there are enough films, tv and literature to create an actual funny end-of-days category says otherwise. I mean – the end of the world is a pretty big, scary topic, and we, as humans, actively seek catharsis, so it makes pretty good sense this would be a bonafide class of its own.

My earliest example of this was Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which basically begins with the end of the world…and starts out swinging: the Dolphins leave Earth, thanking us for the fish, because they are supreme beings who know the planet is about to be blown up because it’s in the way. And wacky hijinx ensue. Also in the 80’s, we were treated to Night of the Comet, teenagers survive the tail of the comet only to have to deal with all the humans who were turned into zombies because they were outside when the comet hit. There is, of course, a mandatory scene where the teenagers go to the deserted mall and play dress up.

More recently, we’ve gotten the Simon Pegg gems Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End, (and oh my god, I would LOVELOVELOVE to see Simon tackle a mash-up dystopia of Hunger Games, Handmaid’s Tale and Divergent) parodying self-absorbed UK hipsters during a zombie apocalypse and alien invasion respectively (and hilariously) and a rash of really recent television series, such as The Last Man on Earth, No Tomorrow and You, Me and the Apocalypse.

I have to confess: though I think most of these are funny and clever, with the exception of You, Me and the Apocalypse (and maybe because, in addition to its being comedic, it was also EXTREMELY DARK), I haven’t tended to enjoy them as much alpacalypseas their more serious older sisters. What can I say? I’m attracted to dark. I’m attracted to bleak. Mostly because it makes our current life seem less so. But considering the way things are headed in contemporary society, that may just be a matter of time, (nuclear war with North Korea? Coming soon to a west coast near you! Anthrax outbreak via ISIS? Coming soon to New York City! Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-present specter of climate change, likely coming soon, period!) and another thing I enjoy about the more serious shows is they are partly instructional. And of course, there’s the gallows-humor aspect, and always another opportunity to examine ourselves as human beings, and see those things that make humanity great…and not so great. What do you think?
Books: The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaday, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Movies: Zombieland, This is the End, Dr. Strangelove, Wall-E, Idiocracy
TV: Aftermath, iZombie, Z Nation, The Tribe