The End of the World vs. The End of Civilization
Virtually every religion, society and culture has its version of the end of the world. Armageddon. Ragnarok. The Legend of the Five Suns. If the Mayans have their way, the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012. One myth has it that a pole shift will cause the continents to break away from the Earth’s core and fly into each other. Another myth posits a rogue planet called Nibiru is on a collision course with Earth. The Galactic Alignment, which last happened around 26,000 years ago, might expose us to unknow galactic radiation, or solar flares of unprecedented power might scorch the Earth making it uninhabitable.
None of these are particularly happy thoughts, but they sure make great fodder for movies. “12 Monkeys” used a lethal virus to end the world. “Dr. Strangelove” had us annihilate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust. “War of the Worlds” offered Martian invaders as the means of our demise. In “The Terminator” it was the machines that took over the world. In “I Am Legend” the cure for cancer becomes the agent of destruction.
Novels love the apocalypse too. Stephen King used a super-flu virus to wipe out humanity and set up the final conflict. “World War Z” posits the ever-popular zombie apocalypse. Nuclear war is the fait accompli for “A Canticle for Lebowitz.”
I love post-apocalyptic fiction, but I’ve noticed that much of it is set with a relatively short time after the fall. Denzel Washington’s epic action flick, “Book of Eli,” and the hit television series, “Revolution,” are both set within a generation of the civilization-ending event. Something in the back of my mind said, if something bad enough happened to end civilization as we know it, it’s probably gonna take longer than a generation or two to rebuild.
In my own novel, “The Scavengers,” I chose an enormous comet as the hammer of God. Mankind is literally bombed back into the Stone Age. The comet strike ushers in a new Dark Age that lasts at least a millennium. The action picks up perhaps 500 years after that. Civilization has reasserted itself. New people groups have risen, new governments, new religions. One thing that hasn’t changed is man’s thirst for knowledge and lust for power. The head of the religious order and the head of the civil order struggle for supremacy, and one must eventually bow the knee to the other.
If the world is still here after December 21, I’m going to start working on the sequel.
Mike Parker is an actor, writer, director, playwright & screenwriter. He holds a BA degree in Bible and Philosophy and served as an officer with the US Army’s elite commando force, the Green Berets.
As an actor he has appeared in regional and national television commercials, in music videos with popular artists such as 3 Doors Down, Garrett Hedlund and Due West, in the films , Season of Miracles and Redemption, and in the FX television series the PBS documentary, .
As a writer, more than 1000 of his articles, celebrity profiles, CD, book & theater reviews, and poetry have been published by national print and online periodicals. He has authored three successfully produced stage plays including recently adapted into an award-winning screenplay. He is a contributing author to the inspirational compilation, , (Multnomah) with Alice Gray, co-author of the business book, Shameless Self Promotion with Paula K. Parker and Torry Martin (WordCrafts Press), and provided commentary for the popular Bible-zine, (Thomas Nelson). He created and serves as managing editor for the online entertainment magazine, BuddyHollywood.com. The Scavengers is his first novel.
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