Lauren Sargent

Tsunamis, Pandemics and Bots, Oh My!

This week found me being fully initiated into the world of Science Fiction and Apocalyptic media. First off, I watched the cheesy and plot hole-ridden TV special, End Day. It was an easy to digest series that followed repetitions of the same day culminating in a different disaster hitting the earth but I fixated on all the particulars that weren’t up to par in my mind. Specifically, I was hung up on how not every situation was the literal end of the world. The large tsunami wave hitting the east coast and even the meteors striking earth were terrifying concepts but only struck certain parts of the earth, leaving chaos in their wake but plenty of people to recover, rebuild and adapt. I expected the series to show complete apocalyptic wreckage but some of the situations seemed more like large scale “natural” disasters that could be survived by much of the human race. On that note of surviving, I also fixated on the scientist character that somehow managed to escape death and terror in nearly every situation by getting stuck in a cab or missing his flight. If only traffic was that beneficial in real life. During the show, I found myself wondering how I would fare in the different situations and planning out how I’d spend my last day on earth. I’d honestly be tempted to run but after thinking about it realistically, I would probably not take the warning of a tsunami or meteors too seriously. When I see disasters on the news, I tend to think ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘it’ll pass’. Perhaps I will pay more care when I see warnings in the future but I worry that I would panic over nothing and that may cost me in the end.

On to my experiences with apocalyptic and science/futuristic fiction. I am admittedly not well versed in either world aside from a few favorites that I’ve enjoyed so the Routledge article was pretty much all new information to me. I knew that industrialization had contributed to the birth of these genres but I understood a lot more. I find it really interesting how progress breeds fear and often pessimism in literature and society in general, purely because it means the destruction of a previous way of life. It made sense, especially when thinking about today’s world and the narratives that fill our minds. Black Mirror, for example, really harps on the idea of technology and progress consuming our lives in an overwhelmingly negative way. While reality may be very close to that, it also exaggerates the fear and destruction that may come. Black Mirror is hyperbolic but formulaic science fiction in my eyes, mixed with some apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes.

I also got my first taste of a science fiction infused post-apocalyptic book. These genres often go hand and hand but both were really present in the excerpt of Sea of Rust that I read. I have an affinity for robots and the concepts of Artificial Intelligence so I was drawn to this book immediately. It takes place in a time after humans have been eliminated by a robot uprising and the world consists of individual bots struggling to survive against a hive mind super-AI that consumes the memories of bots who give themselves up to it. Because the main character is a robot, they are meant to have limited emotions and they continually insist upon their lack of care and feeling. However, it’s hard not to see the morals, mercy and regret that they exhibit as emotions and pure humanity despite their programming and metallic shell. Despite this confusion I have to reconcile while reading the narrative from the main character’s view, I am definitely interested in continuing. The world building in the first few chapters I read is heavy but I think it’s necessary and illustrates an interesting world of humanlike robots versus oppressor robots.  I have a good feeling that now that the necessary info is out of the way, the rest of the book will be intense and full of robot shenanigans, which I look forward to.



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