I think perhaps the main reason I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is the way it strips away all the divisions of society and (generally) puts us all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter what your background or beliefs are, how smart or rich or loud or quiet or well-connected you might be, when the shit really hits the fan, we’ll all likely have as good (or as bad) a chance of survival as the person next to us.
This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently, not least because we’re in the middle (or possibly the tail end, or maybe still the opening act) of a global pandemic which has had a profound and long-lasting impact on the entire planet, even those who continue to claim it’s a hoax. Far more trivially, I’ve also been thinking about the same themes as I’ve been working on the new AUTUMN books. Book one, AUTUMN: DAWN, was very much a straight-forward survival horror story in the style of the previous books in the series. AUTUMN: INFERNO and AUTUMN: EXODUS, however, will be altogether different. It’s not so much about picking up the pieces after an apocalypse; more about seeing if there are any pieces left to be picked up.
I’ve been catching up with some post-apocalyptic reading, and the novel I’ve just finished – SURVIVORS by TERRY NATION – makes this point very effectively. Unfortunately, it also drives home my earlier assertion that no matter who we are or what we’ve done, in the event of a global catastrophe, we’re all equally fucked. Grim, eh?!
I’m sure many of you will have heard of SURVIVORS – the two BBC TV series, if not the novel. The story, first published in the 1970’s, deals with the aftermath of a global pandemic. A disease with a 95% mortality rate spreads around the world in a matter of days, and the book documents the struggles of some of the remaining 5%. It’s sobering stuff.
Okay, maybe that headline’s a little unfair on Lowestoft: it’s not really the end of the world, but it is the east coast town where much of THEM OR US takes place, and it’s where I was last Thursday evening to mark the UK release of the final book in the HATER trilogy.
I’m going to post again later this week and explain more about why and how Lowestoft was the perfect setting for the book, but for now I just wanted to report back on the launch event and thank a few folks for their help in making it a success.
We kicked off with a well-supported Waterstone’s signing, before moving on to Lowestoft Library (a location referenced in THEM OR US) for more signing, followed by an illustrated talk and a question and answer session. Thanks are due to David Naughton-Shires for producing some great post-apocalyptic artwork (an example of which is below, you’ll see more in my next post), and to Iain McKinnon and the cast and crew of Projekt for the video clips I used. You’ll probably not have heard of Projekt before… in early 2010 we produced a series of HATER viral videos which were designed to tell the story of the first book, and set the scene for DOG BLOOD. Unfortunately rights issues prevented us from releasing the footage (and the position’s still the same), but it was great to finally be able to show a few brief snippets.
At this point I need to mention the audience – many of whom had travelled considerable distances to be there (but let’s be honest, you have to travel a considerable distance from anywhere to get to Lowestoft – that’s why it made such a perfect location for THEM OR US!). There were plenty of Survivors there, and huge thanks to them for their ongoing, yet vaguely stalker-ish support. More about that in another post which is coming shortly…
Thanks also to Jane Rothon and the staff of the library for being so accommodating, to Ivan Bunn for the technical support, to Jo and the staff at Waterstone’s for actively supporting the event with real enthusiasm, to the staff at the Chinese restaurant most of us ended up in for the most bizarre dining experience I can remember in a long time, and finally to Emma Bunn for being the glue which held it all together. Emma – if you hadn’t spotted my wife and I out drinking in a Lowestoft pub last summer, the event would never have happened!