Posted in authors, books, post-apocalypse, Publishing, science fiction

The Stars Seem So Far Away – Margrét Helgadóttir

I’d like to introduce you to Norwegian-Icelandic writer, Margét Helgadóttir, whose first book, The Stars Seem So Far Away, has just been released through Fox Spirit Books. Congratulations, Margét! Let’s talk about the book.


What is The Stars Seem So Far Away about?

The Stars Seem So Far Away is a story set in a distant future, where plagues, famine and wars rage across the dying Earth. The last shuttles to the space colonies are long gone. Fleeing the deadly sun, humans migrate farther and farther north. The story is told through the tales of five survivors: One girl who sails the Northern Sea, robbing other ships to survive; one girl who guards something on a distant island; one guerrilla soldier; and finally, two siblings who become separated when the plague hits Svalbard.

It’s not a novel, but it’s not a collection of stories either. It’s a hybrid, a fusion of linked tales that together tell a larger story.

What inspired you to write the book?

I think the idea of this alternative future for the northern parts of the world has been dormant in me for many years.I have long pictured a world where humans, due to climate changes, must flee to the northern world, and where places that today are sparsely populated could become covered with cities. I’ve had the image of the skyscraper city on Svalbard in my mind for many years. But mostly it’s the small details of this dark and apocalyptic world I have mulled over for a long time. I have for instance been fascinated by the doomsday vault, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, ever since it was built. Also, the image of the killer whale in Nuuk has stayed with me for a while.


It’s such a beautiful cover. Could you tell us a little about it?

The lovely cover is by the talented Sarah Anne Langton. I am very happy about it because I feel it reveals some of the atmosphere in the book like I picture it. The cover has ice, snow, ocean, a giant bear, a crashed Hercules, an apocalyptic city and the human who longs for the stars. Sarah even made sure it’s the correct star maps on the cover.


What is your relationship to the speculative genres?

It’s more about what mood particular books/stories put me in, rather than who wrote them or what genre they are within. I’m the same with movies. Fantasy and science fiction are always good choices when needing to escape real world and seek comfort.

But I also find that these genres challenge the readers/audience, force them to think in new ways, be it space exploring, new species, new ways of thinking, new technology. They turn the world as we know it upside down, and few things are impossible. I love this. There are of course often used tropes and clichés in these genres too, but still, now and then I can read something or watch something which is so challenging, so brilliant, I almost can feel my brain cells squeal in delight. I love the space opera subgenres and I adore the science fiction classics from 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, filled with optimism and confidence. But my favourite science fiction is the narratives close to contemporary fiction, often about power structures and dystopian societies. They are not new, but we have seen these stories more often the last decades. I am also increasingly fascinated by stories within ‘the weird’, twisted and dark stories, often very surreal and surprising.

Could you tell a little about your writing and other stories?

It was only two and half years ago that I found confidence enough to start writing fiction for publication. A few of the stories in the book are actually amongst the first stories that I wrote. I have chosen to write fiction in English, which is not my native tongue, so working on the book has also been part of a tough language-learning process. Today, when I read through the book, I can see clearly how I have developed as a writer; the later stories flow better and have a more sure voice.

I know my writing and language can’t compete with Hemingway or other great authors, but I’m very concerned about telling a good story, so I hope I have succeeded in this and that people will like the stories and the characters.

My stories have appeared in several magazines and journals, including Gone Lawn and Luna Station Quarterly. My fiction has also been or will be published in nine print anthologies, including Impossible Spaces, six volumes of Fox Pockets, and two more Fox Spirit publications. I am co-editor of the coffee table book European Monsters, a collection of fiction and art released from Fox Spirit Books in December 2014. It is the first of an annual monster series. In 2015 I will co-edit the second volume in this series, African Monsters, and I will also edit an anthology of winter tales. Hopefully there will be time to continue writing as well.


You have an unusual background, can you tell a little about yourself?

I’m born in East-Africa to a Norwegian mother and an Icelandic father. I grew up in East- and West-Africa and in Norway. On my webpage you can find small musings about different aspects of being a third culture and cross cultural child. I moved to Denmark two months ago, where I will stay for a few years due to work. I am a movie junkie and a book worm, and can often be found in the history museums and galleries in the weekends. Learn more about me at my webpage, or on Twitter, where I am @MaHelgad

Thanks so much, D.D., for inviting me to talk about my debut book.

The Stars Seem So Far Away was published by Fox Spirit Books and released on Valentine’s Day. It can be ordered as paperback and Kindle from Amazon. Epub is coming soon.

Amazon UK (paperback):

And Kindle:

Amazon US (paperback):

And Kindle:


Thanks so much, Margrét, and best wishes for the success of your book!

Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, science fiction, science fiction, writing

A Crystal Age


Another of my Project Gutenberg finds, “A Crystal Age” by W.H. Hudson is an early science fiction story. Originally published in 1887 anonymously, later editions had the author’s name. One wonders why it was published anonymously to begin with as science fiction was not unheard of at that time. According to Wikipedia, utopia/dystopia literature was quite the rage at the time, not unlike today.

Some of the plot devices it employs are echoed in later books. The narrator is out on a botanical expedition in the hills near his English home when he falls and then awakens much later in strange surroundings with no real explanation of how this occurs. The fact is he has been unconscious apparently for millennia, or somehow fallen through a portal in time (my own guess, it’s never mentioned in the book) and finds himself in the far distant future. This sort of magical transportation is what Edgar Rice Burroughs used in his “John Carter of Mars” series, where Carter is mysteriously whisked to the red planet without explanation, although “A Crystal Age” predates “John Carter” by a good 25 years or so.

The story is an interesting imagining of what the far future might look like, and how people of that time would behave. But our hero baffles me in several ways. A couple of points most difficult to reconcile are that everyone in the future speaks 19th century English, and yet the written language has become incomprehensible. The narrator, Smith, likens the forms of the letters in books to Hebrew characters. Why would the written language alter so completely, but not the spoken? Language changes relatively quickly, and in the span of time that must have elapsed between the England of Smith’s day and the time he wakes to find himself in where no trace remains of any city, language would have altered beyond recognition. Even today, with only a couple thousand years between us, no one knows what ancient Greek sounded like, and there is debate about Latin pronunciations.

Anyway, when he wakes from his fall after an unknown amount of time, he finds himself covered by vining plants from which he must extricate himself. His boots are muddy, dry, cracked, as if they have aged while he has not. He begins to walk in an unfamiliar landscape, passing animals that come to stare at him seemingly in wonder as if they can recognize an unfamiliar human, an outsider. Maybe they can tell a carnivore when they see one.

Then, like H. G. Wells’s “The Time Machine” our narrator right off the bat falls in love with a young girl in a small group of humans he encounters, although the young Yoletta is vastly more intelligent and independent than the Eloi Weena. While Smith struggles to understand the peculiar ways of these people, he readily capitulates to their way of life, and strives to fit in from the outset, and makes no attempt to try to understand where he is or how he got there, or how the world came to be the way it is, or what may lie beyond the small area this family inhabits. His obsession with Yoletta drives his every action, from the minute he lays eyes on her.

He never even wonders about his own family or friends, or whether they might be concerned about him. His infatuation with Yoletta has an almost slavish quality. He indentures himself to the family for a year in return for a suit of clothes such as the group all wear so that he won’t stand out or offend them, and in so doing, please Yoletta. His new benefactors are affronted by Smith’s appearance and clothing, particularly his boots, although why is never made clear. The reader can only assume it’s a quirk of their society, the way removing hats on entering a building is with us.

The people seem to take offense easily, although are equally quick to forgive and move on. They’re so accustomed to their own lifestyle that they find it incomprehensible that Smith could come from a place where things are done differently. They’re a bit like the Eloi in that they seem to spend no time in self-examination, or question their existence or have any desire to travel beyond the confines of their small corner of the world.

Yoletta is an unusual character for the time this was written. She espouses views that are progressive, while Smith’s are utterly conventional, chauvinistic. Smith loves Yoletta because she’s beautiful, even while he knows nothing about her. Despite his attempts to flatter, compliment, and flirt with her, Yoletta treats him as she would a friend, with affection and courtesy, but clearly doesn’t return his ardor. During Smith’s first attempt to tell Yoletta how beautiful he finds her, Yoletta observes:

“There are different kinds of beauty, I allow, and some people seem more beautiful to us than others, but that is only because we love them more. The best loved are always the most beautiful.”

This is in direct contrast to Smith’s idea that the most beautiful are the best loved. Yoletta is wiser than her years suggest. Smith, on the other hand, has some growing up to do.

The writing is rich, as was the custom of the time, with poetic descriptions that would bore most modern readers, but which I still enjoy. I think modern prose can often be too stark, there’s room still for more colorful writing.

“For a long time the sky had been overcast with multitudes and endless hurrying processions of wild-looking clouds – torn, wind-chased fugitives, of every mournful shade of color, from palest gray to slatey-black; and storms of rain had been frequent, impetuous, and suddenly intermitted, or passing away phantom-like towards the misty hills, there to lose themselves among other phantoms, ever wandering sorrowfully in that vast, shadowy borderland where earth and heaven mingled; and gusts of wind which, as they roared by over a thousand straining trees and passed off with hoarse, volleying sounds, seemed to mimic the echoing thunder.”

It’s a short book, more of a novella by our standards (133 pages all told, including all Project Gutenberg’s added notations and licensing and so on), definitely worth a read even after all these years.

UPDATE: 1/20/2014 – Erin Johanson was kind enough to mention it’s available on Amazon for Kindle for free as well here. (Thanks, Erin!) Project Gutenberg has all their offerings in multiple formats, including MOBI, which is what the Kindle uses so lots of ways to find books!

UPDATE 2: Changed to “The Time Machine”. Thanks, Ralfast.

Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, Quotes, random thoughts, writing

I’m Not One of You (I Hope)

Who are you people, and how did you get control of this planet?

I suppose I’m depressed.

If you suffer from it, you know that no amount of jokes or friendly ribbing is going to tease you out of it. Oh sure, you can put up the smile the way you put up Christmas lights – all the neighbors can see them even if they leave you cold – but lurking under that is that abiding sense of ennui. As I once heard, “Telling a depressed person to ‘cheer up’ is like telling a blind person to ‘look harder’.” If it was that easy, don’t you think we would have done it?

I’ve reached a point where I truly am beginning to feel like I must be a different species or from another planet. I just don’t get people. All the stuff you run around doing, driving all over the countryside to do this, that, or the other thing, cheering for sports teams, or taking a day cruise, going to movies, out to dinner. I just don’t get it. What’s the point? What does it do for you? How does it change your life? I don’t get the current obsession with BDSM but judging by the news and how many other people do, I really know I’m not one of you. To me it’s such a bizarre concept. But, this is what your lives revolve around, so be it. I don’t understand anything about you.

The tribal predisposition. You find the most trivial ways to separate into new tribes all the time. Hairstyles, clothing colors, personal conveyances, profession, beliefs in supernatural entities (or lack thereof), skin color, eye color, hair color. I’m so tired of trying to sort out who’s in which tribe. I was apparently dumped on this planet, alone. I have no tribe. And sports – Modern wargames where one tribe tries to kill the other tribe, and all the villagers turn out to watch the battles. Some of  the villagers get killed occasionally, but rarely do any of the warriors die. Peculiar way to fight battles.

And the way you love your guns and war… If you didn’t love them so much, they’d be gone. But people love war. They LOVE it. When 3D printers burst onto the scene just a few short months ago, what was the first thing someone made with one? A gun. That’s right. And they’re even easier to make now, completely plastic. Someone (or a lot of someones) find this important. I make jokes on Twitter about being a Viking and swinging my battleaxe, because, again like the Christmas lights, people find it amusing. And for the record, I don’t get Christmas lights either. So, favorite human pastimes include killing people, and cheering up the survivors with Christmas lights? You people are just weird.

The things people find important just baffle me. Like these big ugly houses they like to build


What the hell were they thinking? Well, they were thinking of themselves. For more on big ugly houses, there’s a whole series of posts about Big Ugly Houses in and around Walnut Creek, CA, an area I know from having lived there for almost ten years. Look for the one the writer dubbed “Xanadu.” It will make you shudder. It looks like a fortress from an alien world. I just hope it’s not from whatever alien world I’m from, because WOW would that would be embarrassing.

Celebrity worship. Why? Why do you fall all over yourselves to place on pedestals people who do and say horrible things? Or just useless stuff? If you’re going to worship other humans, why not scientists, philosophers, educators, crisis aid workers? Allow me to suggest one that I find particularly noteworthy. I’m posting it nearly full-sized to make it easier for you to read, so you don’t have to keep clicking:


A great man, a great thinker.

But, maybe I’m not entirely alone. I suspect the recent trend and popularity of dystopian, post-apocalyptic literature and movies are indicative of a general dissatisfaction with modern life. For me, it’s a possibility of a ‘reset’ button, to get away from the structure of society around banks and money, or power-mad egomaniacs with bombs, and maybe find a better way to organize society. I don’t know what that better way might be, as I am not the great thinker Dr. Sagan was, but with luck those who are might be able to lead us into a better future, one built on more compassionate foundations, and not about oppressing others to improve one’s own lot in life.

If you’re gonna dream, dream BIG, I always say. Back to writing.

Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, random thoughts, science fiction, writing

A Dismal Night

So I’m too cheesed off about the tree incident to concentrate on writing tonight, even on my post-apocalyptic tale, so I thought we could discuss PA and dystopian tales, and why we like them so much. This was inspired earlier today by a HuffPo article on the same topic (not tree trimming gone wrong – why we love dystopian stories).

The article talks about how dystopian stories are more honest, giving us raw, unvarnished truths about how ruthless we can be, and how damaging these horrific events can be to the people who have to suffer them.

Yes, there is all that. It’s good to see man’s inhumanity to man portrayed in an honest way, and instead of glorifying war. Better to show these atrocities in the way that people truly experience them, instead of making it seem like something desirable.

But for me, I think the biggest draw for dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories is the idea that at some point we’ll get a ‘reset’ button, that we’ll have a ‘do-over’ on the world. ‘Cause frankly, it’s a mess, and short of civilization crashing and having to rebuild from the ground up, nothing is going to change. Now, I have to add that were that situation to occur, I can more readily believe a scenario like David Brin wrote in “The Postman”,
or any of the “Mad Max” movies, “The Book of Eli”, “Waterworld” or something like the new show, “Revolution”

will arise to take our current society’s place. We are a vicious, predator species, and a couple more set-backs isn’t going to change that.


Sure, I think some people are kinder than others and anyone with any real smarts will see the value of cooperating with others, banding together to survive. But just as looting becomes the order of the day in any city during a blackout, there will always be those who exist only for themselves and will do anything to anyone to advance themselves, not unlike most politicians.

Even still, part of me would like the chance to reroute humanity’s path, and hope the next time around we’ll get it right. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll make a few better choices.

Posted in dystopia, Office Life, post-apocalypse, random thoughts, science fiction, Tarot, writing

Save Yourself

I know I’ve been very dull and nearly incommunicado lately, but my precious free time is going more to my stories than my blog. Here are the two opening paragraphs from the one that I’m most obsessed with lately, tentatively titled “Save Yourself; I’ll Hold Them Back” (thanks to My Chemical Romance):

Pistol gripped in his right hand, his coat open for easy access to the rest of his weapons he had strapped to various parts of his body, Gareth sat on the ground in front of the house with his back against the wall while Bernie slept on inside. The limited field of view in the company issue night-vision goggles annoyed him and he never used them. He did better with his eyes shut, listening for noises that didn’t belong, feeling the vibrations of approaching footsteps. Like a cat, he rose and stretched every few minutes to keep his muscles loose. He hoped the others had gotten his message but for now he and Bernie were on their own.

She hadn’t wanted him with her on this run, and had made it very clear before they left Chicago. She was the best surviving courier in the west, so when the company had sent Gareth to make the run with her, she wasn’t what could be called pleased. She’d packed her small duffle bag with extra ammunition, a few hand grenades, and her favorite handguns. The rifle, however, was never out of reach. She drove with it on the seat next to her, slept with it inches from her face. As she zipped the duffle bag closed she stopped and looked Gareth in the eye. “I can get to San Francisco faster on my own. I don’t need help.”

It’s a post-apocalyptic piece that I’ve been toying with for some time and really want to get finished.

Be that as it may, let’s keep to our weekly Tarot card drawing for some inspiration to survive another week, shall we? I’m going with a different deck this week, let me know if you prefer the other and the quotes. This is from the Power Deck by Lynn V. Andrews, with paintings by Rob Schouten. I got it in a box of assorted books and decks I bought off Ebay for a song. I believe it’s long out of print (copyright 1991).

This isn’t the prettiest card in the deck, but it’s the one I drew, so I am going with it. Must be something I’ll need this week.

At a time when I’m trying REALLY REALLY hard to fit in and adapt mentally to my job, I’m not sure how asserting my individuality is going to help. I’ve never been good at hive mentality.

Seize your power! Have a good week everyone.

Posted in books, cyberpunk, fantasy, film scores, movies, music, post-apocalypse, science fiction, science fiction, Steampunk, writing

How to get the little woman to try sci-fi

Well, I’ll tell ya.

I wrote this post at the urging of  a couple of guys who wanted suggestions of books and movies to try to interest their spouses in science fiction. So I thought, ok, it could be that many women have simply not been exposed to it, or are not aware of the range of science fiction styles that exist. Traditionally it has been the nearly exclusive domain of men, as writers and consumers. Not entirely, of course, although many people remain unaware of women’s contributions to and interest in the genre. Most famously, Alice B. Sheldon wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. to get her work noticed and accepted in the ol’ boy network. To the delight and amusement of sci-fi girls ever since, her work was deemed “ineluctably masculine” by Robert Silverberg. Anyway, point being, women have had a hard time being taken seriously in sci-fi, so you can understand how it can be off-putting to many women.

With that in mind, you must accept the fact that she may NEVER like sci-fi. You must. Accept it. Everyone has their own tastes, and just as you would no sooner read romance, it may be that she will never share your love of sci-fi. To each his or her own. It’s nice that you want to share, but allow for differences. Also, there are many flavors of sci-fi: military, hard, soft or social, cyberpunk, time travel, alternate history, apocalyptic, space western, and more. She may find some of these sub-genres appealing and not others.

However, that said, if she is open to giving it a try, allow me to suggest some of my personal faves in both books and movies that I think will appeal to women more than the military or ‘hard’ sci-fi. I happen to like most of it, but that’s me, not her. And you didn’t marry me. Your mistake, but we’ll let that slide.

Try to find out what she doesn’t like about any of the sci-fi you may have dragged her to in the past. Is she not interested in the attack sequences in BSG? Too much politics and intrigue and soldiers behaving badly? Skip the military. Was Avatar more of the same? I’m not even going to go into how much I hated that movie with its cardboard, two-dimensional stereotypical characters, not to mention the cultural strip-mining… OOPS. Well, anyway, I hated it but not because it featured military stuff. Maybe she doesn’t get Star Trek with all the talk of dilithium crystals, and warp nacelles, positronic matrices, venting warp plasma, rerouting control to the battle bridge… I love Trek, in all its incarnations, although TOS (The Original Series) is still probably my favorite. It was the chemistry between the main characters that made the show, much as the cast of “Firefly” inspired such a loyal (ok, rabid) following, of which I am one.

We aim to misbehave

So let’s dig back a little. One of my all-time favorite sci-fi movies was

Ice Pirates (1984)M8DICPI EC002

Yep. Love it. I think it was grossly underrated. The story had a real message, the characters were fun, there’s the romance between Jason (Robert Urich – be still my heart) and Princess Karina (Mary Crosby) which may help your wife/girlfriend/significant other ease into the rest of what’s happening. There’s some campy humor, villains, anti-heroes, swashbuckling pirates, froggy alien women, time travel.  What’s not to love about a movie with a character named Killjoy (John Matuszak)? This movie had it all. It’s lighter fare than Star Wars which preceded it.

Next up: Starman (1984)Starman

Oh, this is just too wonderful. Jeff Bridges plays the awkward but benevolent and curious alien who gives Karen Allen her heart’s desire.  It spawned a short-lived television series that sadly lacked the charm of the movie. In the movie you’re rooting for Starman to outrun the government agents chasing him as he tries to experience some earth culture (cherry pie being one of our good points). The humanity and relationship between Jenny and the Starman is what makes it go. But it makes you think. What would happen to an alien who came here to learn about us, and became the target of a manhunt by the government? What would you do? Help him, or turn him in? It received an Oscar nom.

Contact (1997)

Brilliant scientist Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) devotes her career to searching for extraterrestrial life, to the chagrin of her superior played icily by Tom Skerritt. Matthew McConaughey plays her sometime love interest/nemesis Palmer Joss. When she picks up a real signal from space, the government once again steps in and takes control, almost shutting her out of the process of making contact. In the end, she realizes her dream, but then has little support when no one believes her. Jodie Foster took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama. It won several other awards, including the Oscar for sound.

John Carter (2012)

Just go see it or rent it on Netflix when it becomes available. It’s fun, the chemistry between John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) and Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) is wonderful. I’ve talked to lots of ladies who loved it, so it’s not just me. The guys like it, too. I’ve heard from guys who saw it three times in the theater. It’s got some steampunk-y flying craft on Mars, which was fun. The story is not so convoluted that you can’t follow who’s who, and even though it’s based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ vision of Mars which is all wrong scientifically, it is humorous, visually arresting, has interesting sympathetic characters, and a great musical score by Michael Giacchino. OMG I love this movie, I’ve got the DVD on pre-order through Amazon, but it’s not out until June 5. Argh.

Don’t try to start off with Alien or Event Horizon or Mad Max. And hold off on the comic book characters. If she’s not into graphic novels and doesn’t already know and love the characters, most of the movies based on them are not going to help.

On to the books. As much as I love books like Neuromancer by William Gibson and Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, they’re not for everyone. Gibson in particular is not an easy read. He introduces a lot of tech and ideas and lingo, and there are a lot of threads and intrigue, a lot of layers to it. It’s not beach reading. It is also violent. Not the best choice to start someone off in the genre. Brilliant, but it’s heavy duty cyberpunk.

Instead, I suggest starting with something like Clifford D. Simak (I loved Way Station), Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Liebowitz, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, or Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber.

Just about anything by Ursula K. Le Guin (The Earthsea Trilogy might be more fantasy than sci-fi, but a great intro to her work. Just ignore that terrible SyFy channel movie based on it), Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” series, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels, Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake (although she has repeatedly denied the classification of sci-fi for her work). Maybe your wife doesn’t know women write sci-fi, as well as read it. Starting off with a book written by a woman might make it more palatable, less like a ‘boys club.’

So there are a few ideas run up the ol’ flagpole, see if anyone salutes. But honestly, unless she’s got some latent geek tendencies, it’s probably unreasonable to expect her to suddenly take an interest in space ships and ray guns. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, science fiction, science fiction, writing

Post-Rapture Reading Suggestions

I think we can all conclude that even if the Rapture occurs as predicted by Harold Camping, (where it says, “The End off [sic] the World,” I guess spelling doesn’t count in Heaven) I’m not going anywhere. Furthermore, I refuse. I’m holding out for Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, as any good Norsewoman would. Hand me that labrys, would you?

That said, those of us who are still going to be here (you know who you are) will still need something to read. So I started looking at post-apocalyptic books, you know, to get in the mood. I was mildly surprised to discover that post-apocalyptic lit dates back to the early 1800s, when Mary Shelley (yes, THAT Mary Shelley) wrote what is apparently the very first post-apocalyptic book all the way back in 1826. Overshadowed of course by her earlier more famous work,Frankenstein, The Last Man
is set in the year 2100, after some kind of plague has decimated the human race. The book was trashed in its day, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was revived.

In 1885, Richard Jefferies wrote After London: Wild England wherein an unspecified disaster of some sort wipes out most of the population and nature begins to reclaim the land.

Everyone is familiar with H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds from 1898 but unlike the movies the book is set in Victorian London. I remember how surprised I was when I first found that out, although I don’t know why I was surprised that Hollywood had moved the setting to the United States.

Another surprise was finding that Jack London had penned The Scarlet Plague in 1912. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2073, again, a mysterious plague nearly obliterates the human race. More a novella at only 86 pages, it is sadly out of print.

In 1909, E. M. Forster (better known for Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day, A Room With a View) gave us The Machine Stops.

I admit I am surprised at so much dystopian, apocalyptic writing during this Victorian era. Was science advancing too quickly for comfort? The new era of mechanization also gave rise to the Arts and Crafts movement, and Art Nouveau. It must have seemed like the world was already out of control, and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 hadn’t even hit yet.

There has been more post-apocalyptic/dystopian literature written since the 1940s than I can shake a stick at, but it’s easy to see where that came from: World Wars, the Cold War, space race, and so on. Rather than try to list it all, I refer you to David Brin’s Facebook list (you don’t need to be a member to see this) of post-apocalyptic novels, including his own The Postman from 1985 (do not be deterred by the movie that was made of it). And if you are of a science-y bent, you can follow him on Twitter @DavidBrin1 .

I’m going to go sharpen my weapons now.