S. Elliot Brandis is a writer I came into contact with thanks to KBoards. I was immediately taken by his description for his debut novel, Irradiated (part one of The Tunnel Trilogy), and have been patiently waiting for the release of its follow-up, Degenerated. The good news is that the latter is now available, and both can be had for the uber-cheap introductory price of only 99c for a limited time. Two books for less than two bucks. Go buy them immediately! If you're wondering whether Irradiated may be up your alley or not, check out my review. If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I think it's a pretty safe purchase. The story is solid, and Elliot has a damn strong writing voice and a style I really dig. To top it off, those Jason Gurley covers are beauties. All in all, it's a top-notch package.
I'm really happy to have Elliot posting here today, so let's get on with it. Here's his article, "It's Not The End Of The World." Enjoy!
It's Not The End Of The World
Think of post-apocalyptic fiction, and what do you see? Zombies, bombs, disease, disaster, war? Maybe you see barren landscapes, or bones jutting from emaciated bodies. Whatever it is, I bet it’s unpleasant.
It would be easy to think, then, that post-apocalyptic fiction is about one thing: fear. Indeed, fear is deeply ingrained in the genre. Our stories tap into our fear of the future, of human nature, of what happens when it all goes wrong. However, fear is only half of the equation.
If you distil the genre down into core elements, what you’ll find are two competing emotions: fear and hope. They are the heart of the genre, it’s defining feature. The balance between the two changes, but the conflict between them is always there.
Consider The Walking Dead, in all of its guises. It taps into many of our fears. Our fear of dying, and of losing loved ones. Our fear of fellow man, and the darkness that may lay hidden deep in their hearts, waiting for a chance to surface. It also raises questions about ourselves. If you were pushed to the edge, would you still act in a way that’s moral? Or would you compromise your morals to save yourself and your family? What is more is more important? But, on the other hand, it’s also a show about hope. The hope that if we tough it out and try to work together—maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we can make a new start, forge new relationships, and persevere. The hope pushes us forward, through all the darkness.
Even the darkest works have this glimmer of hope. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is often described as bleak, perhaps even ‘hopeless’. But I disagree—there is hope. The man and his son are “carrying the fire”. He instils this idea in his son—they are amongst the last flickers of humanity, it’s final chance. Without this sliver of hope, as slim as it is, I doubt that the book would work. It is a trickle of oxygen in an otherwise suffocating world. And, as bad as that novel may make us feel, it also makes us think that perhaps, just perhaps, there is merit in our sheer doggedness.
So, we arrive to the title. Despite the name, post-apocalyptic fiction is not about the end of the world. It’s about our fight to prevent the end of the world. The conflict between hope and fear—the fundamentals of human existence—lay at its core. It’s about our will to survive.
And that’s what makes it so damn good.
S. Elliot Brandis is the author of Irradiated, the first novel in a trilogy. He lives in Brisbane, Australia, and often sets his stories there, too. He loves hearing from readers, and can be found at many locations across the internet.