Then, finally, we saw the Weinstein Company logo, the Columbia logo, and seven minutes of pure unfiltered pleasure began. I think it’s safe to say there is no movie in production right now that I want to see more than this one, and this may have made the wait harder, not easier.
“Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.”—George Orwell, who would have been 109 today, in the 1946 gem “Why I Write” (via explore-blog)
This is the short story that inspired the horror game of the same name. Basically a computer takes over all of the world, and only a few people are alive. The computer tortures them, and it gets to be pretty bad.
Walker’s spectacular debut begins thusly: “We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it. We did not sense, at first, the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin… On the sixth of October, the experts went public. This, of course, is the day we all remember. There’d been a change, they said, a slowing, and that’s what we called it from then on: the slowing.” Of course, as the earth’s rotation grows slower still, heading towards an uncertain apocalypse, 11-year-old Julia still has to deal with all the equally world-ending mundanities of adolescence.
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus
In Marcus’ most recent novel, language has become toxic. At first, the sound of children’s voices beings to make adults sick, but as the strange plague develops, any communication at all, even their own, even facial expressions, makes adults suffer unbearable pain and begin to waste away. As you might expect, all interaction effectively stops, except for a rabid amount of casual sex, everyone looking away from each other. Towards the end of the novel, the protagonist despairs, “Without language my inner life, if such a phrase indicates anything anymore, was merely anecdotal, heresay. It was not even that. It was the noisings one might detect if a microphone were held against a stone in the woods.” Bleak, indeed.
The Greatwinter Series by Sean McMullen
In these novels, a group of scientists recreate an ancient and extinct species of whale Jurassic Park-style, from its recently discovered DNA, a project that seriously, seriously backfires. As it turns out, the whale species had telepathic powers, which they use to punish the humans who have so hurt their brethren. They feel and copy feelings of longing from one of the scientists, and then translate these into a telepathic, emotional “call” that causes almost all the humans in the world to walk into the ocean and drown themselves. Lots of other stuff is happening too, but: whales, you guys. Telepathic whales.
Dust by Charles R. Pellegrino
“They’re dead, I tell you! All the fungus gnats are dead!” And that’s a bad thing. In this bizarre novel, all of the insect species on Earth begin to go extinct, and their absence wreaks havoc on the planet’s ecosystem, the disaster moving steadily up the food chain until enormous mites are devouring every living thing in their path. You might just think twice before pulling out the flyswatter next time.
The Wind from Nowhere by J.G. Ballard
Ballard’s first novel is a seriously weird one — at first, there’s just a stiff breeze, but every day it gets stronger. The breezes become winds become gales become hurricanes become unearthly forces that threaten to blow every living thing off the planet.
The Snow by Adam Roberts
You think the winds are bad? Try a never-ending snowfall that smothers the earth, covering even the highest buildings and accumulating more and more until the snow is miles thick around the planet. The only way to survive is to constantly stay on the snow’s surface — everyone who fails to do so is buried alive.
Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Another baffling catalyst is “The Change” — a mysterious and seemingly spontaneous worldwide shift that alters the physical laws of the world so that electricity, gunpowder, and other forms of technology suddenly stop functioning, and modern civilization follows right on their heels.
Blindness by José Saramago
This novel is about exactly what it sounds like — blindness sweeps an unnamed city, causing a complete breakdown of society. It’s sort of amazing to consider how something as relatively common as blindness (more common than aliens or flesh-eating bacteria, anyway) can destroy so much if applied to a community on a grand scale.
Sleepless by Charlie Huston
Similarly, Huston’s Sleepless imagines a world racked by a plague of insomnia that slowly unravels society. We think that would probably be even worse than widespread blindness.
Vanishing Point by Michaela Roessner
This novel’s apocalyptic event is bizarre for it’s simple lack of explanation (and stands in for the many post-apocalyptic novels who skirt this very issue). One day, 90% of the world’s population disappears. No apparent reason. 29 years later, scientists are still searching for answers to explain the Vanishing, their findings a whole new physics that are just as bizarre as the mysterious catastrophe.
“Sheer egoism… Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.”—On his 109th birthday today, revisiting George Orwell’s Why I Write. (via explore-blog)
“But ambition is like a poison and a gift tangled together and it makes you leave and leave and leave again, leave places, leave people, leave your whole life. Ambition and something else that I don’t know how to name but it’s what I share my house with, the house of my body, ambition and something that is ruthless and cruel and says only, ever, Is that a good story, and if the answer is no it says Move on. The best we can hope for is to be good enough to justify how brutal we are. The summer after I graduated I had no idea what I was in for or what I had started, no idea where that move would take me, no idea that I would come out the other end transformed. Not a butterfly but a vulture or maybe on my better days a bird of prey. When you are a woman or a girl or female no one says to you Look, artists who are great take without asking and take and take and do not apologize because when you are a woman or a girl or female the only thing you are supposed to take is a lot of other people’s shit. No one says to you Be sure you are strong enough to take and not apologize and keep going when the taking leaves you nothing to go back to. Be sure you are strong enough to steal and live alone with what you’ve chosen to make yours.”—
thinking a lot about artists and writers and ambition and the question of “what kind of writer do I want to be” (thanks Kieron) and leaving places and people behind. thinking about whether I create my own loneliness more than I think I do (and I’m not feeling terribly lonely right at this moment; vacation alone with strangers did exactly what I hoped it would do and reminded me how much I do like my own company).
this hit home for me. not because I am the type of ambition monster who burns through people exactly but because I have always been willing to be the one who leaves. the one who walks away. the one who says no, go away, get out of my life, or just turns her back and goes.