Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Disasters for Fun

Posted by hyperpat on July 23, 2006

There’s a certain element in all of us, I think, that revels in the second hand delights of disasters. Certainly not first hand – oh, no, that would mean actually having to experience all the nasty things that go along with disasters, like pain, loss of loved ones, seeing the work of years wiped away in moments, and the daunting task of having to rebuild. But we love to read about such happenings as they happen to someone else.

And there are writers aplenty who have given us some great disasters to look forward to. Scared about the possibility of a meteor or comet hitting the Earth and wiping everything out? Try Larry Niven’s and Jerry Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer. Blow up the planet by accident? There’s Eugene Burdick’s and Harvey Wheeler’s Fail Safe. Or let’s just hollow out the planet’s core till everything collapses, courtesy of a black hole – David Brin’s Earth. And then there are some books that look at what things are like long after the disaster occurred. Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz looks at the world over a thousand year span after a nuclear holocaust, while Edgar Pangborn’s Davy is a Huck Finn set in partially drowned New England.

All of these books are excellent reading, well written and with some very cogent things to say about things that matter to all of us. And this small listing only scratches the surface of a veritable library of books that delve into those times when things just don’t go right. And just perhaps, reading these will allow us to make better preparations for the future, and possibly know what to avoid to prevent these nightmare scenarios from actually happening.

2 Responses to “Disasters for Fun”

  1. I do love A Canticle for Leibowitz, marvellous book. Other ‘disaster’ books well worth reading include Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (the disaster happened some time ago in this one) and Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – vastly underrated, probably due to the schlocky film.

  2. hyperpat said

    I read Riddley Walker about a year ago, and thought that while the constructed language was intriguing and well done, the basic plot was fairly typical (for SF). John Wyndham (John Beynon Harris) is someone that I went through many, many years ago. While his Day of the Triffids is good, and The Midwich Cuckoos is the one most people are familiar with, I think his best work was Chocky.

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