I love post-apocalyptic stories. But you know what I love more than post-apocalyptic stories? Pre-apocalyptic stories. I personally don’t believe the world is destined to suffer some sort of sudden, apocalyptic cataclysm. I think the end will happen gradually, over generations, as we witness the further deterioration of society and the slow decay of our once beautiful planet into a toxic, heat-blasted wasteland, until no one is left to mourn our species and lament our centuries of greed and missteps and miscalculations.
So hey, something to look forward to. In the meantime, let’s read (and write) some stories.
I distinctly remember thinking, around the time Ben H. Winters’ novel The Last Policeman was released, that we need more stories that take place during the last days of humanity, when we all know it’s coming. How would people react in that situation? And while you read a story like The Last Policeman, you can’t help but ask yourself: “What would I do during Earth’s final days?”
I’d probably still write. And that’s what endears the character of Hank Palace to me. He keeps going, solving murders, helping people out. Why? It’s how he’s wired. He continues to thread his way through the violence and debauchery of the final days. Or rather, the final months, as the event in the book, the one everyone knows is coming, is still six months away as The Last Policeman opens. If our world is ever going to come to a sudden end, I hope we don’t have that much warning. I hate waiting.
But why would I still write if the world was ending? Why does Hank Palace continue to solve crimes? “You’re like an alien,” one character says to Hank Palace. “You’re like, from another planet.” For Hank’s motivations, you’ll have to read the book. As for my own, well, I simply enjoy it. You go have your orgies and your benders. I’ll stay home with my wife and my cats and my laptop, thank you very much.
The Last Policeman is the first in a trilogy, and I definitely recommend checking out all three. Even though you already know how they’re going to end.
Or do you?
See you next time (or will I?).