Unnamed Future depicts a soon-to-unfold society in which all political, cultural and personal differences are erased from humanity by giving every single person the same personality. Oddly enough, things don’t go well — at least not for our heroine, who rebels by experimenting with an illegal drug that provides her with something exotic and dangerous: a personality of her own.
As we lurch further and further into a future of danger, chaos and growing uncertainty, has the idea of post-apocalyptic fiction began to feel less and less fictional? And not just because of the continued threat of COVID, but also the panic and cultural upheaval that has accompanied it.
It doesn’t help matters that talk of an upcoming vaccine, far from quelling the political storm, has simply nudged the storm in a different direction, spurring on the rhetoric of anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and — surprise! — political opportunists.
Allow me to move the topic to a selfish place: What does all this mean to fiction writers?
If Amazon’s book charts are any indication, the pandemic’s deadly spread has been a boon to writers of viral apocalypse novels. Apparently, people like reading deadly fictional tales that mirror the real-file horror of our daily lives. Does this make sense?
It’s not usually the case that people like fiction that close to home. I’ve known a few war veterans in my life and none seemed eager to immerse themselves in the fictional accounts of violent conflict. Nor do most abuse survivors relish tales of violence and torture.
Maybe it’s different when the apocalypse is happening generally to the world, but not to you and your family or circle of friends.
It seems to me that people like fiction that hits close to home — but not too close.
What do you think?