Monday, June 13, 2011

When The Lights Go Out

I must admit... I have a slight fascination with the prospect of technology failing around the world either instantly or in a short span of time. The first apocalyptic book I read that gripped me was The Stand by Stephen King
I couldn't have been more than ten or eleven years old. My parents rarely monitored what I read. I think that stems from my father not being much of a reader beyond fishing, hunting and golfing magazines and my mother being illiterate until she was around thirty. I suspect they were just thrilled that I read anything at all.

In my novel, The Rise of Magick (samples at link), I explore similar themes. I saw a landscape of destruction where power-hungry elves lived in Central Park, humans were nomadic and the use of technology may be punishable by death. This world was broad, filled with monsters and magic had seeped into the places technology no longer occupied.

I actually spend a good deal of time pondering what would happen to the average person if the lights went out for a month or a year. How many people would know what to do? I talk with friends about such scenarios and it always ends up painting a grim picture for most people. Seriously... Think about how life would change if you had to provide your own food, water, shelter and heat. Nothing at the flip of a switch or the turning of a knob. No regular deliveries of food to the local supermarket. Wal-Mart is gone....

My father made sure I was equipped for any such event. His was not so much a paranoia of the world ending as it was that some foreign power would invade and we would be forced to live like our ancestors in the woods. He made sure I knew how to hunt, fish, and build shelters. By the time I was eight or nine I could skin, gut and butcher a whitetail deer. I used sharp, hooked knives almost as long as my arm. Blood seeped in under my nails and stayed there for days. The rusty tang of blood was not an unfamiliar scent in our home.
He also taught me what plants and bugs could be eaten and how to get fresh water or filter what was available. He, in essence, taught me to survive if the lights went out.

Thinking of the world imploding is kind of scary, isn't it? I know it freaks me out. But I think that's the fun of it all. The same thrill I got from watching scary movies as a kid bubbles up to the surface and I can feel my pulse quicken. When I think about it, I see a world of possibilities for stories to be told and translated. 
We also have the advantage of thinking, "Yeah but that's not really going to happen." So we can keep a safe distance from it. Take a moment and ask yourself what you would do if you got out of bed tomorrow and the lights didn't work. Then a few days pass and you realize they aren't coming back on any time soon. How would you feed your family? Yourself? What happens when the toilet no longer flushes and the TP is all gone?

Now that all of that fear is bubbling around and I asked questions that most of us avoid... Take a breath. Smile. Look to the skies and say thanks for having the security and life you know. Now think how fun it would be to slip into that world and poke around for a bit. I do it in many stories. I love many books like this. If you are interested, let me know. Either email me or post below and I will respond with some suggestions.

Until next time.... READ!

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