Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ending the World

Natural disasters are pretty frequent--although only a few times are they (supposedly) strong enough to affect the entire world. 2012 is only one of many films covering a supposed disaster on a global scale, and the causes may be both manmade and natural. 

Right now I am revising--and hopefully soon polishing--a book covering a modern-day Noah's ark story, inspired by the midwestern flooding that occurred a few years ago (a town just south of where I lived in Kansas was completely flooded--I know, I saw the aerial photographs). Is it the disaster I have always found most intriguing? Not really, but I find it intriguing at the moment (which is why I am writing about it). Flash Forward deals with an entirely different global event--yet these are only two examples. 

I'd like to turn it over to all of you, though, keeping in mind films and series like these--or books like Z for Zachariah and On the Beach, and my brother-in-law's new book Lightfall, which was just released last Friday (you can find it through Amazon, I think):

What natural and/or man-made disaster do you find most compelling? What event do you believe would most deeply affect you? 

I look forward to your responses... but don't let it all depress you. (And don't answer if it does depress you.)


  1. I think the Black Death plague was the most significant disaster in terms of lives lost but to me the one natural disaster that truly could affect the world would be a major volcanic sustained eruption.

    I have no clue as to which natural disaster would have the greatest impact upon me personally. I suppose the one that left me behind while taking all them that are closest to me away.

  2. I don't really get into "end of days" scenarios as a general rule.

    Cataclysmic events, however, are easy to postulate. The easiest, of course, is a radiation or even heat event for the Sun. We're protected from much (not all) of solar radiation with our unique magnetic/radiation exoatmosphere, but and event of a particular magnitude could eradicate most life on the planet. It could happen without warning. A short term event might leave a few (miners/submariners/etc. untouched). A long term event probably would not.

    Ditto for a "deep impact" kind of event. We all assume we can see these coming (comets, near earth asteroids), but, if something came from outside our system that was conveniently visible with a sloughing layer of ice, we might never see it coming.

    Then, of course, there are the ones we do ourselves. I'm glad I don't worry about nuclear holocaust any more.

  3. Steph covered my point of veiw.

    1. Deep impact
    2. sun flares
    3. Super Volcano

    those are my top three, and all would effect me the same by leaving me and the whole world dead...

  4. What would the difference be in the impact if we knew it was coming or didn't know? Why is it that so many films show people who have various levels of "knowing"?

  5. It's a great question, Shakespeare, and I even have an answer. The answer is, because the dynamics of how people react to impending doom is what's interesting. If you kill everything and no one's left, what's the movie/book about?

    It's one reason why there aren't dozens of movies about Hiroshima or the Boxing day tsunami vs. a dozen or so movies about the Titanic or Pearl Harbor (both of which had at least hints of what was to come).

    I pointed out we can't necessarily see an earth ending meteor because people are always talking about what we would "do" - truth is, there are several scenarios where no one will have any opportunity to "do" anything. You don't see those in movies because otherwise the movie's really short. Even Noah's Ark stories go nowhere if no one knows the flood is coming.

    It's only when the story is focused on the possibility the aftermath (with the assumption that someone would survive) that unplanned disaster is found in fiction. But reality often comes with no warning as many in Indonesia learned a few years ago.