'Station Eleven' is a haunting tale of the apocalypse

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/18/station-eleven-is-a-haunti.html

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Shortly thereafter humanity loses its shit.

Roger That!

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I enjoyed the first part of the audiobook, the flight and escape. But once it time jumped into the future, the store just didn’t hold me. I’ll give it another try though.

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Co-signed, interesting book worth reading.

BUT, it struck me that it uses the same material scarcity tropes that almost all post-apocalyptic fiction uses that I’m not sure make sense. If there is a pandemic that wipes out 99% of humanity, the remaining folks (in the US, at least) will have all kinds of things to deal with, but a lack of stuff won’t be one of them. Everyone left would have enough warm clothes, quality tools, firearms, hunting/fishing equipment, camping supplies, and canned food to keep them in material comfort for decades.

Think of how much stuff is in every Cabela’s, every Walmart & its warehouse, every Home Depot, and every mega-mart, not to mention an average house. Yeah, the medicine & fuel would be serious issues, but nobody would be wearing rags and scrounging for weapons, that’s for sure.

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I haven’t read it, but while all the published reviews I’ve seen were good, all the personal reviews I’ve heard have been negative: The pandemic doesn’t make sense (although it is possible just that the characters don’t understand it) and rural communities where people know how to live off the land, don’t exist.

For those who have read it, is that unfair?

Even with most people gone consumable goods (like canned food) wouldn’t last all that long in a world without any significant amount of agriculture or distribution.

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One of my favorite books. Beautifully written. I recommend it often. I also recommend people read the no fear version of King Lear so they can get the connection.

Great writing. I also put it in that rare category of “SF books I’d give to my SF-hating mom, were she still alive.”
This list also includes The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

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But people would have the better part of a decade to sort out their food situation while the canned food & beans & MREs hold out. Nobody would be going hungry in that scenario for a long time, even if nobody bothered to grow food or hunt/fish.

Sure, everybody is going to miss fresh pineapple pretty quickly, but every man, woman, and child could be dressed in the highest-end outdoor clothing, have sixteen guns apiece, and have a mountain of MREs to fall back on for a looong time while trying to get other shit sorted.

We’ve got a lot of stuff in this country!

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With most of the people gone, would distribution really be the problem? At that point I see it as either fend for yourself or form up with like minded people who can fend together. Establishing trade would be further down the line.

I see @DrNobelDynamite 's point. Depending on the cataclysm if 90% of the population is wiped out the largest problem would be lack of medical supplies and disease, since nobody is planting the bodies and animals might be spreading things around (assuming animals made it through).

A cataclysm that would lead to scarcity is something that stops the wheels of production and distribution without wiping out people first. That’s when shit turns medieval.

I’ve been a fan of apocalyptic fiction and games for most of my life, however I’ve been distracted from them lately by the lead up to a real apocalypse.

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Gasoline would go bad long before a lot of edibles. Utilities like power and water would go offline almost immediately and then (obviously) frozen and refrigerated goodies. A “last of the ice cream” binge would be epic. Hooch, on the other hand, would last quite a while.

Canned and dried goods, and things like well-stored flour will last a very long time though. All that honey and fruit preserves on the shelves will outlast the people who have gotten sick of them. Bisquits, grain bars, and especially freeze-dried food packages will last edibly if not palatably almost forever.

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The book seemed to imply that the initial survivors escaped infection by avoiding contact with people who were spreading the virus during the initial outbreak, with the dense population centers hit hardest. So most people wouldn’t be in any position to go house-to-house gathering canned goods or other supplies for a long time, if ever.

Any such supplies would also be unevenly distributed among the remaining populace, and total social collapse isn’t exactly conducive to equitable sharing of resources.

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By the way, the e-book version is (like most at Amazon) DRM’d so it’s a rather short-lived consumable itself.

That’s why god made Calibre and the DRM removal plugin. Or someone else with a love for humanity.

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The people that were best equipped to understand it died before they could do anything about it. It was pretty quick and most of the worlds population was gone in less than a week. And we only get to hear about folks in one geographical area so maybe it is known in the rest of the world. Maybe only part of the world is infected. Folks just don’t know.

I read it a few years ago while Last Man on Earth was still in its second season…absolutely nothing is explained in that either. Seemed like a great comedic companion to the book. I believe the closest they came to saying what might have happened was that a man coming in from a plane from Russia was sick and started to infect everyone else. And that is it.

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I recognize this is a bit of a silly theoretical (i.e. nerdy) debate, but that stuff would still be there after that first breakdown you’re talking about. The down jackets, wool socks, waterproof boots, and knives would all be there for the taking whenever anyone wanted them, along with enough shovels, seeds, alcohol, bandages, and firearms to drown the remaining folks.

I’d be curious to see a post-apocalyptic book that rather than presuming this material scarcity where a guy in a ratty coat kills somebody for the last box of bullets, instead posits a world of some kinds of extreme material abundance that coexist with things like fuel and medicine scarcity, and how that would play out.

ETA: Earth Abides is probably the closest to what I’m talking about, and that twist on things was interesting as hell, I thought

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When your Kindle loses wifi and whatever their cellular service is all the books will be there until your battery dies. I keep my Kindle off line when not updating for a new book OTA. Sometimes, if I have books I do not want the library to take back, I update via USB.

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I figure it’s the copyright owners’ choice to not sell to me. There are other books and life is short (in my case, short enough that I’m conscious of what I can pass to my heirs. [1])

It would, however, be appreciated if the reviewers (esp. at BoingBoing of all places!) had the courtesy to tell us instead of making us dig the DRM status up ourselves.

[1] The house is full of books that date back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as well as modern ones. The idea of leaving some indeciperable files in forgotten formats really doesn’t seem right.

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I was OK with the pandemic not making sense, it being a book of fiction and all. The thing that bothered me is the final confrontation, which just kind of fell away after a big build up. Not satisfying.

Pandemic - Ebola. Entirely plausible.