Sunday, December 23, 2012

Absolute Write Blog Chain - End of the World

The Mayan Apocalypse has come and gone. The Fiscal Cliff is still looming. The ocean levels are rising, species are going extinct at ever faster rates, giant asteroids are flying right past. The world is always about to end, but here we still are.

The theme for this month's Absolute Write Blog Chain is the end of the world. Read the rest of the gang's take on the theme by following the links below. Since I don't actually think the world is ending, I thought I'd take a look at why so many other people seem to think it is (or hope it is, or at least write about it happening).

The end of days is a popular theme in stories, and clearly captures the imagination of the public. From Ragnarok to Revelation to Armageddon, cultures have been talking about how things will end since the beginning. I think it's a projection of humanity onto the physical universe. We all die, therefore the world must die at some point as well. When we look at the world dying we can abstract from our own mortality and view death as something less personal and in a way less frightening. It goes back to the idea that we like to be scared in theory while still feeling safe in reality.

The end of the world is also a very dramatic landscape. However it's going to end, it will definitely create conflict. Most stories include the idea that somehow we might be able to prevent it. That if we try hard enough, are smart enough or pure of heart, that the hero can ultimately find a way to save us all. We like to believe that perhaps we, ourselves, will be able to cheat death. That we can indeed live on for a perpetual future. A happy thought.

Imminent doom is also a great way to introduce tension into a story, a tension that reaches every character. We learn more about people when they're put under pressure, it condenses the time it takes for transformation to happen. In short, it creates a crucible that reduces people to their core. That's a great thing for a story, and the ability to cover large arcs in a short time is a boon for writers. So we'll continue to see the end of the world in any of its many forms being used as literary devices. And we'll enjoy the vicarious thrill as we sit safe in our homes and watch the storm blowing outside the window.

Me, myself, I believe the world will end. It's literally just a matter of time. If nothing else, the sun will expand and swallow our planet in a few billion years. More likely, an asteroid strike large enough to wipe out life as we know it will hit our planet before then. I expect I'll be long gone before anything of the like happens. Humanity will hopefully have spread and will survive. But I'm sure it will be very exciting for those who try to live through it. Good luck to y'all.

Participants and posts:
orion_mk3: (link to post)
dolores haze - (link to post)
randi.lee - (link to post)
writingismypassion - (link to post)
bmadsen - (link to post)
Ralph Pines - (link to post)
AllieKat - (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes - (link to post)
katci13 - (link to post)
Angyl78 - (link to post)
pyrosama - (link to post)
Araenvo - (link to post)
CJ Michaels - (link to post)
SuzanneSeese - (link to post)
gell214 - (link to post)
SRHowen - (link to post)
meowzbark - (link to post)
Aheïla - (link to post)


  1. I love the apocalyptic theme almost as I love the post-apocalyptic theme. Unbelievably, I'm an optimist. *grin*

  2. Funny I thought I commented on this already. I'm all for the sun burning out...I'm a big fan of life and would appreciate being allowed to live it for the next 60 years or so, ha ha

  3. Excellent post! This was my favorite line: "We all die, therefore the world must die at some point as well." I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I love your writing style.

  4. I believe robots will have taken over by then. I really wanted to be part of that, but I think I too will be long gone when it happens.


  5. An engaging read--well-written. Plenty of thought provoking themes to consider as well. What a great mystery, this thing we call life. The beginning and the end of our world and universe gives much to ponder.