A Series of Small Cataclysms

Title pageThe title? It’s the name of my play. Well – it’s not just mine – it is co-written by one of my besties and tribe member Jen Smith Anderson, and we’ve been working on it since summer 2013. There were many, MANY meetings where we just sat in my living room, building our world while eating delicious foods and consuming copious beverages.

A quick disclaimer: this post is less about any impending or fictional apocalypse and more about the journey of our play, so if that’s not of interest, feel free to skim or ignore. But, it does illustrate that my interest and investment in this topic goes far beyond being a fan of the genre when it comes to pop culture. I’m interested as an artist, as an explorer, as a historian. And I’m interested as a human being who might have to put survival strategies in place at some point soon, given the perfect storm of critical events swarming our little Earth at the moment. So read on, if it might interest you!

We didn’t know much about our piece at first, only that we wanted to work on a theatre piece together, and after reading a couple of great already-written plays by amazing authors, decided we really just wanted to make our own thing. We also decided we would not give ourselves any deadline, that we would work until it felt right. I can’t even remember at what precise moment we decided it should be post apocalyptic, but that we were talking a LOT about things like Stephen King’s plague epic The Stand (which we’ve both read multiple times) and climate change. We knew we wanted it to be woman-centric, and talked about the idea of female characters based on the 4 elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water). We talked about there maybe being a wedding, or some kind of event they were gathering for. And we talked about the story encompassing circular time – like, past, present and future are all happening NOW. And Jen brought up the idea that the play’s present did not have to be OUR present…that we could set it in the nearish future…and that may have been why it ended up inching into the postapocalyptic.

Anyway – we spent most of the summer and part of the fall of 2013 just meeting and talking about things. We wrote little blurbs of things we were thinking about. As November began to rapidly approach (you know: November, of NANOWRIMO fame, and also its little-known, red-headed stepchild NAPLWRIMO), I suggested we should just dive right into the actual writing of our play, otherwise there would never be an end to the world-building. So we started, and a tale began to unfold.

It was about 120 years in our future, and we used the soft, climate-change apocalypse depicted in Earth 2100 as our environmental history. At first, it was just four grown sisters (each based on one of the four elements) gathering at the death bed of their mother. It was basically a bittersweet family living room drama taking place at the end of the world.

ErisAnd then, chaos ensued. And by chaos, I mean CHAOS, Eris herself, the Greek Goddess of Discord decided to crash our play. I must admit that yes, I tend to write about mythology a LOT, it is definitely a HUGE source of inspiration. But this was not supposed to be a mythology play, this was supposed to be a postapocalyptic play. It was not supposed to be mythical and magical, it was supposed to be rooted in FACT and SCIENCE, but seen through a female lens. And so, I was more than a little thrown when, as I was writing the scene where our mother character wakes up after collapsing, I discovered, along with her four daughters, that Eris had taken over her body. I remember my heart racing and my breath coming out rapidly as the writing seemed to materialize through my keyboard. I took a break to look over what I’d just written. WTF??? I thought to myself. I need to get rid of this. Then I read it again and sighed. When a goddess decides you need to write about her, ESPECIALLY the Goddess of Chaos, you don’t ignore her. You don’t erase her words. You get the fuck out of the way and let her through. I’ve been visited by enough *divine voices* in my artistic career to know when I’m just a lowly vessel they need to get their point across.

So I got out of the way and let her speak. And BOY has she had an interesting tale to tell! At any rate, Jen and I wrote the bulk of our play between November of 2013 and January of 2015. And we had this THING that was part post apocalyptic family drama, part mythology play, part ritualistic choral ode. We really liked what we had created, but felt like it was SUPER WEIRD, and were really unsure how others would respond. I was part of a playwrights group at the time, and we both decided I should present it to that group for feedback, so I did. I attached our little play to an email, sent it out to my group, and then showed up the following Sunday at our meeting, feeling a little anxious about what their opinions would be…

And by and large, they REALLY liked it! At that point it still needed a great deal of work and development, but they were really into the world we had created…so much so that the group ended up splintering off into a second group with the idea of creating something postapocalyptic between us…but that is a tale for another time. Energized by the response we received from that group, Jen and I decided it was time to gather together a group of actors for an informal reading.

We had that first reading in the conference room at Uptown Espresso in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, and invited 9 of our actor friends to read so we could hear it. As I mentioned above, the play has some ritualistic elements. The conference room we were in had walls and a glass door, but the walls did not go all the way up to meet the ceiling, so the cafe’s patrons could hear us when our volume rose. There are moments in our play where the entire company is chanting “The doors of the sky are open!” over and over, and it builds in volume. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as our actors chanted and everyone in the cafe turned to see WHAT IN THE HELL was going on in the conference room…what I felt was POWER. The sheer power of 9 female voices in unison, the energy that stirred up. And I started to feel like maybe, just maybe, we HAD something here.

13782008_10153542655632024_4642540589408663537_nFast forward to summer 2017, with not only 2 more informal readings under our belts, but also the related but excerpted 10-minute How To Build A Ritual we performed at Freehold’s Incubator Studio series in Spring 2016 that explored mostly the ritual and choral elements of the play and consisted only of chorus. We decided it was time to have a formal reading and invite an audience as the first step towards a full production in 2018.

At the present time, we are a couple weeks following that reading, which was presented at The Pocket Theatre in Greenwood. As we were in rehearsals for this reading (we had about 5, which is more than average for a reading, but added some physical and sound components that required a little more practice), doing some element-based work, the very planet itself seemed to be putting forth little tremors that echoed our work: flooding in India, Bangladesh and Houston. Hurricanes in the Gulf and the Caribbean. Wildfires throughout the western half of the United States. Earthquake in Mexico. It felt like artistic synchronicity at its most foreboding. And the play?

We packed the small house of The Pocket theatre, and had to add chairs. While I acted in the reading, Jen had decided to take a more stage managerial role. However, on the night of performance, one of our chorus members was mired in Seattle’s horrible traffic, so Jen had to step in for the first act, but upon watching the audience during the second half, she said they appeared to be intensely engaged, leaning in to listen, and never really yawning or checking out. We received useful feedback during our short talk-back following the show, and also many kudos.

Now? We have a little work to do as writers before we embark on a full production, and have plans to meet and hammer out a revision side by side in the next few weeks. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hold off on nuclear war with North Korea and/or stave off Handmaid-ship successfully and/or survive more and more intense hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires for just long enough to be able to produce A Series of Small Cataclysms fully next fall. Hopefully.

Group Shot
LtR: Beth Peterson, Pearl Klein, Rebecca Goldberg, Susan Graf, Christine White, Kristi Krein, Carolynne Wilcox, Andrea Karin Nelson, Stacey Bush

A Series of Small Cataclysms: The Reading took place at The Pocket Theatre in the Greenwood Neighborhood of Seattle, WA at 7pm on September 28th, 2017, with the following cast/creatives: Jen Smith Anderson (Understudy, Stage Manager, Co-Playwright), Stacey Bush (Chorus 4), Rebecca Goldberg (Tara), Susan Graf (Chorus 1), Pearl Klein (Chorus 3), Kristi Krein (Chorus 2), Andrea Karin Nelson (Aria), Beth Peterson (Ignis), Christine White (Ma/Eris), Lyam White (Director), Carolynne Wilcox (Vesi, Co-Playwright)


Tom Petty & The Postman


The world is falling apart. Between all the crap happening in the U.S., there has also been mass flooding in Bangladesh, Shinzo Abe wreaking havoc on the pacifist constitution of Japan, Catalunya vs. Spain, and on and on and yadayadayada. Puerto Rico is in DIRE need of aid after Hurricane Maria (and Irma before her) wreaked total havoc on the already shaky infrastructure: standing water, which will lead to PLAGUE before long, if nothing is done. Limited drinking water. No electricity. Parasites charging $3K round trip just to get OUT of PR. But then the next BIG BAD THING happens (Hello Vegas! Need a little attention?) and our fickle collective attention span immediately turns elsewhere. (also, not saying Vegas & gun control don’t deserve attention, of course they do – but not at the expense of other, equally if not MORE dire stuff STILL GOING ON ELSEWHERE).

I haven’t written here in about 3 weeks…I mean, it’s kind of like yelling into the void anyway, I’m not sure anyone is reading. But it started out as cathartic, and has become less so, and in the last month, just not even sure what to write. It’s becoming less about pop culture and more about what is starting to feel like a slow apocalypse occurring all around us, between government coups, oceans rising up, “leaders” comparing genitalia via nuclear weapons.

Got sucked into The Postman on Friday night. It was on HBO around 11pm…yes, the 1997, Kevin Costner, 3-hour monstrosity. It was late. I wasn’t tired. Significant Other had gone to sleep. Cat was in lap. “Research for my blog”, I told myself. And I watched the whole, stinking thing. And I ended up being quite glad I did. For starters, Tom Petty‘s in it. Tom Petty 1He shows up about 2/3 of the way in, and has a really cool part as himself (though his name is never said – he is listed in the credits as the “Bridge City Mayor”, but it is made clear with subtle dialogue bits that it is Tom Petty after the apocalypse). I hadn’t thought about him in years, wasn’t a fan, but wasn’t NOT a fan…his music made up the background of my young adulthood in the 80’s and 90’s. Couldn’t stop thinking about him showing up in the movie, that was a real treat…and then he goes and DIES yesterday. The universe works in mysterious ways. Like he needed extra consciousness directed towards him in those last few days.

Tom Petty 2But I was glad I watched it not only for Tom Petty. And I will say here: it’s not an especially good film, it’s long and clunky and kind of plodding. Kevin Costner is like the male equivalent of Julia Roberts. He’s not a bad actor, he just tends to do the same thing over and over. So, you are always watching Kevin Costner in different circumstances,

reacting as Kevin Costner would react…I guess maybe not a particularly imaginative actor. It is post apocalypse 2013, and they don’t ever explicitly mention what caused the apocalypse, though you can sort of figure it out in bits here and there: there was a dictator and possibly some sort of small scale nuclear war, people moved out of the big cities and out to rural, smaller hamlets.

In the film’s present, there is a dictator – Bethlehem – who is building a giant army in the west, citing the former dictator as inspiration. He is a BAD GUY. Costner’s character is a dude who goes from town to town on his horse, performing bad Shakespeare (WITH HIS HORSE!) for food and supplies. He ends up getting “recruited” couch *captured* cough by Bethlehem to work in a mine and become a good little soldier for Bethlehem’s shitty cause. The last he sees of his horse is from afar, with the army dudes trying to “tame” the creature.

Anyway, after some bad thing happen, Costner escapes and stumbles into an abandoned jeep. There’s a skeleton inside wearing a mailman uniform, also a bag of mail. He spends the night reading the bag of mail. After this, he dons the uniform, shoulders the mail bag and stumbles onto the next town, and, hoping for some food/shelter, makes up a lie that there’s a president in Minnesota (Richard Starkey! Rock n’ roll is ALL OVER this movie, you guys) who is rebuilding the United States again, starting with postal service, and that he, the first postman, has letters! The townspeople are skeptical, and refuse to let him in. He starts going through the mail until he finds a letter that is addressed to an actual, living Pineville resident. That gets him in the gates, gets him shelter and food for the night. He even gets laid by a woman (Abby, played by Olivia Williams) who wants a baby and whose husband is infertile (with his consent! Also, shoutout to a younger Charles Esten, of current Nashville and Carl’s Jr Commercial fame, who plays the husband)!

While he is in the midst of being a self-serving shyster, a teenager in Pineville (Ford Lincoln Mercury, folks, played by Larenz Tate) is so inspired by the fake postman that he decides he wants to be a postman too, and gets Costner to swear him in! Then Bethlehem arrives and wreaks havoc on the town, killing Abby’s husband and taking her as a concubine. Postman gets away again, then ends up in another town where he finds Abby again, and frees her with her help, getting shot in the process. They find a cabin in the woods where they shack up while he heals. She tells him she’s pregnant, but that her husband is the real father – fake postman is only the “body” father.

They decide to go back to Pineville, and on the way, they bump into a young woman on a horse, who says she’s mail carrier number (I’ve forgotten what number) something, and they discover that Ford Lincoln Mercury has been building a cadre of postal carriers while they’ve been hiding out. The fake postman ends up getting inspired by all these real, earnest young postal carriers and starts doing it in earnest, but still won’t divulge his lie, though he starts to take over their routes because Bethlehem has now found out about this postal group and has started seeking them out and killing them (Bethlehem is REALLY not into reestablishing America), so the fake (but now real) postman doesn’t want any more blood on his hands because of this lie. Meanwhile, the legend of The Postman has started gathering steam in all the small hamlets as well as amongst Bethlehem’s ginormous army. There ends up being a standoff at the end, where The Postman uses Bethlehem’s own rules against him, defeats him one on one, mano a mano, takes control of his army, and changes all the rules. And he and Abby apparently live happily ever after, because the epilogue is of their daughter dedicating a statue to him in 2043.


Anyway, I think the film bombed when it came out in ’97, and though it’s still a bit of a clunker, I saw more relevance to it than maybe there was back then. The idea of the United States falling apart seemed absurd in 1997 – I mean, this is the world’s oldest “democracy” after all! But in 2017? The idea of a country brought to nuclear conflict and by a dictator and falling apart into tiny hamlets doesn’t seem so farfetched. The idea of “rebuilding America” actually sounds a little bittersweet and naive, much like Ford Lincoln Mercury, who probably didn’t remember much about electricity or the mail system. So, though it’s not a perfectly well-made film by any means, it kept my interest (for THREE HOURS), and felt kind of relevant in today’s climate. I kinda wish he’d reunited with his supercool horse, though. I kept on waiting for that, especially when he and Bethlehem dueled at the end, but I was sadly disappointed.

The film has been stirring around my brain the last couple days, along with the latest episode of Fear The Walking Dead (which I won’t recap, because I think it’s available to watch, so go watch it! It has picked up CONSIDERABLE steam since the beginning, and I’d hesitantly say it’s better than the original right now), and both have been manifesting in some really dark, weird dreams lately. THE WORLD IS CHANGING. Is it a lost cause to hope the apocalypse stays in pop culture? Probably.

New Paradigm Ahead


End of World Subcategories: Celestial Impact Disaster


comet 3

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

Original Post Apocalyptic Play: feed/back opens tonight!

feedback banner 2Hijacking my own blog once again and interrupting the End of World Subcategories, since my very own postapocalyptic play opens tonight on the 12th Avenue Arts stage on Capitol Hill in Seattle!

Two months ago, 6 theatre artists met for the first time at ACT theatre to start devising a new work for MAP theatre’s first-ever off-night (MAP’s Night Off) production. It was an experiment: come up with two 45-minute pieces based on the set rendering for MAP’s mainstage production Greensward, which would be playing concurrently on more traditional show nights.

Armed with nothing but that and our own thoughts and interests, we set to work. One thing we kept going back to was how we all felt we’d gone through some kind of twisted wormhole to an alternate universe after the election events of 2016. That, and this patch of grass Untitled ended up being the spine of what was to follow.

Rather than two pieces, we ended up envisioning the future as it took place in two parallel universes: one that is our current timeline, with our current U.S. president, and one where the election went in the other direction.

A thing we realized pretty quickly was that, going forward, neither of these worlds is idyllic. If you take November 8 of last year as the jumping off point where the two worlds split, there was still bad stuff happening, particularly where climate change is concerned. In predicting a future where the Democratic nominee won, yes, we decided things probably wouldn’t have gotten as bad as quickly as they do in the other future (like, probably the U.S. wouldn’t have pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement, for one). But realistically? On Nov. 8 we were already past the tipping point where global warming is concerned. We are. Now. Past the tipping point. But more on that later.

In the world where victory went to the Democrats, things were already bad, with regard to the environment, but instead of vilifying or denying scientific claims, we embraced them and actively tried to prevent…but things were (are) already too far past the point of no return to be anything but temporary Band-Aid fixes. The population continued to grow, putting even more strain on already limited resources. New scientific discoveries were being made to cope with these limited resources (my character, in fact, created a cheap and easy way to desalinate water – GO ME!) but it was all far too little too late. So, it’s not like everything was all hunky-dory.

The other world is the future of OUR timeline, where victory went to the Republicans. Things in this world went downhill much faster. Low-scale nuclear war with North Korea, paired with already-bad things getting worse: denial of climate change dumped more carbons/toxins into the air, permafrost melt spewed more noxious gasses (and also microbes that had lain dormant for thousands of years) into the air, warming the earth further, things went from bad to worse. The population was reduced drastically in this world, and as society collapsed and people were more isolated from each other and began living in smaller, tribal communities, dormant psychic abilities began to flourish, and at the time our play takes place, most surviving human beings are telepathic and have the power to control one element or another.

In both worlds, we wrote in an eruption of the supervolcano under Yellowstone that occurs in roughly 2060. So, in both timelines, things were not going too well…until this grass emerged (perhaps lying dormant under the permafrost for thousands of years?) that could metabolize ash and restore soil back to its original state, ready to seed and harvest in a few weeks. For a few decades, famine declines and crops flourish again in both worlds.

Which brings us to somewhere around the year 2135, where the play takes place in both worlds. The grass has been dying for a decade or so and our characters, prominent scientists in one world and powerful magicians in the other, have been tasked with making sure the grass doesn’t die. The play begins when our heroes are at the last patches of grass: a temple in one world, a research station in the other.

It was interesting to write something that had roots in actual science, but we did! Even more interesting to write about a possible future of our own world…we’d discuss all these horrible scenarios with excitement and gusto, and it was really sobering once we realized we were actually talking about the potential future of our own world. I was formatting the script one day, and a little girl came on some talk show and sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and I burst into tears mid-edit.

Yesterday, I read this in its entirety before our dress rehearsal, which was quite depressing…and then to read some of the comments below, lots of mansplaining about how people are just being extremists and it’s not really that bad. I think to myself, “Well, if it’s not really that bad, if we just ACT as though it’s that bad, and have some kind of plan in place and start really working on fixing it in earnest, it can’t possibly hurt. But if we do nothing and it actually IS that bad, I guess the joke’s on us.” It seems as though, well, the joke IS on us. I don’t have much hope of us fixing things, and am glad I’m not leaving any kids behind to have to suffer through it…I’m sure I’ll see enough in my own lifetime as it is.

The actual set for both pieces ended up being quite different from the rendering (above), but also ended up working even better for feed\back, (9 smaller patches of grass instead of one big one!) and it’s actually QUITE stunning (as are WE in our labcoats rehearsing Act I, the “science” part of the script):

feed\back, Act I
feed\back set & rehearsal: (LtoR: Tae Phoenix as Kyt, Carolynne Wilcox as Lo, Aimee Decker as Sybil and Josh Valencia as Flint)

So, you have the backstory. I can’t divulge much of the actual plot until after it’s opened, but if you’re in town, feel free to come check it out – it runs, mostly on off-nights, through the month of July, and there will be talk-backs fol-lowing selected perfor-mances, to solicit thoughts & feedback about feed\back!

Click here for dates and tickets, and please feel free to ask me any questions, I am always happy to answer.


End of World Subcategories: Ecotastrophe!


This subcategory is smoking hot right now, and I mean smoking…HOT…pun intended because we are quite literally in the beginnings of it RIGHT NOW, we ARE the frogs hanging out in that boiling point. Call it what you want. Climate change. Global Warming. “Cli-Fi”. I’ve also seen it lumped into the clumsy catchall of “slow apoca-lypse”. And if you google it, you’ll find more references to what’s actually happening in the natural world right now, than you will anything regarding fictional television, film or literature. Because, despite the fact the current administration is denying it, we are already in the primary stages of this right now, and though it may be slow and gradual, less immediately tangible than, say, nuclear annihilation, the threat is highly real and even probable unless we drastically and promptly change our collective behavior.

But, I digress, since I am here mostly to discuss & define the Ecotastrophe as it exists in fiction (at least for the time being…there will be plenty of opportunity to examine the reality of it in the near future). Probably the piece of ecological fiction I’ve been most influenced by in recent years is Earth 2100, a futuretrip mockumentary that aired on the ABC network back during the summer of 2009. I’ve used this fake history as the jumping off point in two plays I’ve written now, as it follows the events in the life of a fictional character, Lucy, who was born in 2009 and lived through to the next century to witness the effects of climate change and the dominoes that ensued to eventually lead to total collapse.

The thing that fascinates (and terrifies) me is that with climate change, you get several directly relevant situations that will result from this. It’s not just, “Oh, wow, summer is really hot now”. It’s the entire globe getting warmer as a whole. It’s the melting of polar ice caps, which in turn causes severe change with regard to weather patterns (Super hurricanes, anyone? Intense drought?), not to mention flooding and rising tidelines. We mention the “Seattle Archipelago” in the play (feed\back) I’ve been working on this summer, as the various hills of this city become a city of islands. And when coastlines get eaten and drought occurs, flooding ensues most beachfront property is destroyed, crops fail. Then: stagnant water often leads to new, bacterial diseases we don’t necessarily have vaccines for. People move inland. Famine and border skirmishes occur. Mass extinctions of several species of insect and animal, severely affecting the food chain. The dominoes fall, one after the other into one giant chain reaction.

polar-bear-global-_3339474bAnd then there are other things we are doing/have done that probably help this along: oil spills, meltdown of nuclear power plants (us older kids probably remember 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl – more recently, Fukushima in the 2011 earthquake/tsunami sucker punch that hit Japan and is even now contaminating the Pacific Ocean), and let’s not forget fracking, which is even NOW beginning to cause small earthquakes in historically non-seismic areas, like Oklahoma.

As fictional “what if” fodder, it’s awesome! …but I think we are getting to a place in reality where that fodder is becoming a highly possible cautionary tale I would love for us to avoid. What are your thoughts? I realize this is potentially a hot-button topic…

Books: The Death of Grass by John Christopher, New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Glimmering by Elizabeth Hand

Movies: The Core, The Day After Tomorrow, Interstellar, Earth 2100, Snowpiercer

TV: I can’t remember any series dealing with ecological collapse as the main catalyst for the series…not fictional ones anyway, there are several documentary-type series such as Nat Geo’s Years of Living Dangerously. There have been episodes of Star Trek that have dealt with it, as well as Black Mirror. Fringe’s alternate universe had some shades of it, as did SyFy’s Defiance, 12 Monkeys, and to a greater degree, Incorporated.

Too Close For Comfort: Current Times & The Postapocalypse

FlagI’m gonna take a little respite between End of World Subcatogories (back to that next time!) to ponder something I’ve been stewing on for a bit, particularly since a friend of mine tagged me on this particular tweet:

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 11.26.13 AM

Whilst it specifically mentions dystopian fiction (the Societal Breakdown!), I would say I’ve had many more Disturbing Thoughts regarding postapocalyptic and disaster fiction as well since the advent of the wormhole this country seemed to collective fall into on November 8th of last year.

Depending on the day, it feels like we will either explode in some kind of nuclear conflict with North Korea, with all the unhinged tweetings of this creature who is supposed to have the best interests of every American in mind (fat chance) (I still can’t put his name after the word “president”), or plunge headlong into something resembling The Handmaid’s Tale at the hands of our current vice president. And then there is the very real and imminent threat posed by climate change/global warming. You don’t have to be a scientist to believe this…we are rapidly approaching the tipping point of no return.

I used to find this sort of fiction cathartic – not sure I can fully describe why, but it has something to do with “Oh, it’s just fiction – as bad as things might be, we’re not THERE yet”…because I don’t think I’ve ever felt this close to THERE as I have over the past few months. And thus, my interest in this type of story has shifted a little…rather than being as completely cathartic as it was before, I look to these movies, television shows and books as a means of instruction, really. What are these people doing in these simulated situations that I could learn from, in the very real possibility of the Sh*t Hitting The Fan for real.

From Walking Dead, I’ve learned not only how to kill a zombie (it’s gotta be the brain!) but which weapon tends to be better in this type of apocalypse. Guns work, of course, but they’re SO loud!Better to use something like a katana, a crossbow or a barbed wire-covered baseball bat: they’re quieter, and get confiscated less. And that the following skills are better than currency: hunting, farming, healing.

From The Stand, I learned to trust my gut – especially when it comes to my dreams. From The Last Ship, I learned that in an outbreak, one should keep one’s distance from others as much as possible.

From most dystopian fiction, I’ve learned that if something is amiss with the way things are being run, don’t ignore it, don’t go with the flow. Resist early, resist often, enlist like-minded people to your cause and fight tooth and nail to keep the freedoms and benefits you have.

From nearly ALL postapocalyptic fiction, I’ve learned one HUGE fundamental thing: other survivors can be your source of greatest strength and your biggest enemies, because the collapse of civilization brings about all sorts of opportunists who size you up according to what they can take from you. Darwinism at its most base, I suppose.

Oh. And if I start talking about what I’ve learned from speculative, climate-change scenarios, I’m going to start crying.

Would love to hear why this type of fiction appeals to you, and what, if anything, you’ve learned from your experiences of it!




Earth 2100


Since I use it SO OFTEN as a reference, I thought I’d give a shout-out to Earth 2100, a little mockumentary I saw when it was first aired on ABC back during the summer of 2009. It basically chronicles what I like to refer to as a “slow, comfortable apocalypse” via climate change. It explores what might happen if every climactic, worst-case scenario were to happen using both scientific facts, mock-commercials, and is seen through the eyes of “Lucy”, the fictional narrator, as she lives her life, born in 2009 and living until 2100, and how the dominoes fall to total, societal collapse, via environmental disaster.

I seem to bring it up during nearly every discussion I have of climate change, apocalypse and dystopia, and my writing partner Jen and I have used the world at the end of this mockumentary as the setting for the post apocalyptic play we’ve been creating over the past few years (and will hopefully be produced at a TBD theater in Seattle sometime during 2018!).

Given what is happening with current United States “leadership” (abolishing the EPA, ignoring science, appointing climate-change deniers to prominent positions, etc), it is especially chilling to revisit this film in 2017. I think we may already have passed the tipping point. Please check it out and leave comments – would love to discuss it!