I was looking through some of my old posts and noticed a brief commentary on the time leading up to the last election that I called “October Surprise” (link) and thought that I would revisit the topic four years later. After all, we are coming up on another big election and will likely see widespread civil unrest regardless of the results. So far, this year has played out as a slow motion work of apocalyptic fiction. The pandemic has really shown some of the problems associated with the globalization of civilization and we are starting to see some cracks. While COVID-19 does not seem to be nearly as deadly as some of the fictional viruses that we have reviewed here on this site such as in Brushfire Plague by R.P. Ruggiero or George Stewart’s Earth Abides it is certainly causing widespread disruption.
I feel like I’ve read this book before. It starts off a bit slow with a novel virus that sweeps the world. What the virus lacks in widespread lethality, it makes up for in its contagion and its ability to disrupt and divide people around the world. Naturally, the protagonist in this story is ex-special forces. He starts out on team “hoaxer” but he starts to take it more seriously when one of his friends dies from the virus. Eventually, he decides to retreat with his family to their isolated and well stocked bug out location just before the shit hits the fan. Economies subsequently collapse under the strain of endless shutdowns and restrictions. Civil unrest ensues. Blame is passed around between already hostile superpowers. Of course, a world war erupts. Sure it starts off conventionally, but eventually it escalates to the use of nukes. We have plenty of variables to provide twists and turns along the way to impending doom. Heck, maybe we could even have some follow-up post apocalypse stories exploring the “aftermath”. Maybe even a short romantic episode between characters to maintain the attention of a wider audience demographic. Throw in some religious fanatics, a few sociopaths and it’s a winner!
Anyway, as the line between apocalyptic fiction and reality blurs in the coming months, many of us will maintain our normalcy bias, insisting that the worst case scenario is impossible. No doubt, these same people would have considered the prospect of mandatory face masks in public during a pandemic pure fear mongering. How many of these people now have face masks hanging from their rear view mirror for their short stops to the drug store or post office? As if a dirty, virus covered cloth mask that has been used for months has any remaining protective qualities. Judging from the way that people have reacted to COVID-19 both on a macro and micro level, I have very serious doubts about our prospects for long term survival (like I didn’t have enough doubts already!).
To anyone reading this I wish you the very best of luck in the coming months/years. I would love to have an opportunity to come back here four years from now to reflect on my paranoid world ending fears and the next October surprise. In the meantime, I hope to make a few posts about some apocalyptic fiction books that I have completed recently. Do something for your “just in case” plan today. You might be really happy someday that you planned ahead for bad scenarios no matter how unlikely you feel they might come to fruition.