Indiana Jones visited the Temple of Doom, but authors have written their stories in it for a long time. When I was a kid, I read books like Huxley’s Brave New Worldand Ape and Essence, Wells’ The Time Machine, Orwell’s 1984, Kornbluth’s Not This August, Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, and many other novels we call dystopian, apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic. For some readers, these books are depressing; for me and many others, they are warnings. Novels like the Christopher and Kornbluth books end with a bit of hope, though: some readers might want to slash their wrists, but their authors don’t let them—they are positive and often uplifting toward the end. Later books like Oryx and Crake and The Road follow the general tradition, but aren’t so uplifting.
Are all these books just warnings? No, they’re also good stories, some better than others—I’ll forego ranking them here—and hold a reader’s attention if s/he picks up such a book. Plots, characters, settings, and dialogue often shine, and readers are often participants because such stories make them think, “Could this really happen?”
I hope to add to this literary tradition once again with my new novel The Last Humans as I did with Survivors of the Chaos and some other books. The new story is a post-apocalyptic thriller. Foes of the U.S. have attacked the west coast of the U.S. with a bioengineered contagion that spreads around the world. The apocalypse kills billions—numbers so large that most survivors’ minds snap shut. One of only a few survivors, Penny Castro, ex-USN diver and L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, reacts differently. She fights back and creates a life for herself where death is the common denominator. On a forensic dive, she is interrupted. When she surfaces, she finds all her colleagues dead, so she has to battle starvation, thirst, and gangs of feral humans until she ends up in a USAF refugee camp.
Because of my reading habits as a kid, I’m attracted to this subgenre. My very first book, Full Medical, had dystopian elements, and Soldiers of God some post-apocalyptic ones. Rogue Planet considers a brutal theocracy, a theme all those classic thrillers never considered. I made them all more than just warnings too, novels that will entertain you, good reader, because they’re entertaining stories.
Current events have led to a resurgence in these kinds of books. The Great War, the Second World War, the Cold War, and other conflicts generate interest in them. Now climate change, genetic engineering, and political unrest are added to the mix. Democracy is being attacked in various parts of the globe, and famine, pestilence, and wars provide themes too.
Authors must have a sense of history to write these stories, but they also have to be good storytellers. The latter is a high hurdle to jump over. Am I up to the challenge? Time will tell.
Steven M. Moore Bio-
“Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series,” Rembrandt’s Angel,
The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan,
“Clones and Mutants Trilogy,” Soldiers of God,
“Chaos Chronicles Trilogy,” Rogue Planet,
More than Human: The Mensa Contagion,
“Mary Jo Melendez Mysteries,” The Secret Lab,
Pop Two Antacids and Have Some Java,
Fantastic Encores!, and Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape
Now available: The Chaos Chronicles Trilogy Collection, a bundle of sci-fi novels…
Coming soon from Carrick Publishing: the YA sci-fi mystery, The Secret Lab (2nd Ed), collaborating with A. B. Carolan