Thursday, August 20, 2015

Episode 58 - The End of the World as You Know It

Everyone loves zombies. Why? Because they're the disgusting, shuffling, brain-eating, undying corpses of your friends and family.

Wait--what? Let's start again.

Everyone loves an apocalypse. Why? Because the foundations of society crumple and instead of working at a ho-hum but decent job and raising a nice, mostly put-together family, you're forced to survive hostile terrain, insane machines, cataclysmic weather, incurable diseases, and unfathomably repulsive aliens.

Wait--again? Seriously, guys. Zombies? Invasions? Disaster? Why do we enjoy this stuff?

Let Nick and Tim help answer your questions as they analyze the appeal of post-apocalyptic stories in this episode of Derailed Trains of Thought. Then, because the world can't get enough death and destruction, they decide to brainstorm a few of their own "end of the world" scenarios for your enjoyment.

But don't be afraid. As long as you can jury-rig a car battery to operate your iPod so you can listen to your favorite podcast on storytelling, who cares if the world burns. Am I right?


Show Notes

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1 comment:

  1. I've been postponing my comments long enough...

    While the specifics of your "bug apocalypse" are unique, I have seen something like it already. It was an anime from the early 2000s called "Blue Gender." I didn't see every episode, but from what I can remember, it was about a young man who awakens from a cryogenic sleep to find out the Earth has been taken over by a race of giant insects. Most of the human survivors have departed to Second Earth, but they still perform military operations on Earth against the bugs. It reminds me a lot of "Starship Troopers" (the book) a lot, which might be why I enjoyed it. (Here's a link for more info:

    No love for "Mad Max"? How could you! It popularized post-apocalyptic in the modern era! In fact, for years those films were what came to people's minds when you mentioned that genre. I would argue, especially regarding the newest film, that there is substance to those movies--it's just really subtle and is often communicated visually and not verbally. Regardless, each movie is unique and has a different style (the first is an exploitation/cop revenge story; the second is a western; the third is '80s cheese; and the fourth is classier issue of "Heavy Metal" magazine). They're definitely worth watching, if only for their pop cultural impact.

    Not long before I listened to this episode, I heard another podcast, the Sci-Fi Christian, discuss the topic of post-apocalyptic fiction. One of the co-hosts--who, unfortunately, I think is a pretentious hipster--said he thought modern post-Cold War examples of the genre were inferior to those from the height of the Cold War because those authors lived with the fear of mutually-assured destruction. I thought that not only disregarded what authors were trying to do with the genre now, but I thought it was a flagrant disavowal of the threats in the world today (terrorism, a reviving Russia, etc.) We may not the looming threat of nuclear annihilation, but it hasn't vanished. Plus, there are other things that could lead to it. This isn't a "relatively safe" time like he said it was.

    Interestingly, the first example of post-apocalyptic fiction is nearly 200 years old. "The Last Man" by Mary Shelley--yes, the author of "Frankenstein"--published in 1826. According to Wikipedia, it was set on an Earth ravaged by a plague. It was excoriated by critics and faded into obscurity until the 1960s. Jack London also wrote such a book in 1912 called "The Scarlet Plague." Crazy, huh?

    As for an apocalypse were aliens abduct all the smart people...again, I've kinda seen that done. In the original "V" miniseries, the supposedly friendly aliens eventually blame Earth's problems on scientists in the hopes of turning the rest of humanity against them. It was meant to be a metaphor for the Nazis and Jews. Then in the satirical film "Idiocracy," a man of average intelligence by our standards wakes up 500 years in the future and finds out that society has been so dumbed down that he's now considered to be a genius. Not quite the same thing, but he does "save the world" from people's stupidity.

    That takes care of this episode!