Soft Apocalypse

by wjw on March 21, 2011

My sometime student Will McIntosh (Taos Toolbox 2008) has published his first novel, and it’s a very fine work indeed.

Soft Apocalypse— the very title of which introduces a useful idea into science fiction— is what happens when your civilization starts to crumble and then just keeps on crumbling.  There’s no bang, there’s no war, there’s no great dramatic moment when the cities burn, there are no armies of zombies, there’s just a slow and steady erosion of everything that makes your society work.

The military can’t help, because there’s no one to fight.  The politicians can’t help, because what’s happening isn’t political.   Ordinary people can’t help, because what’s happening isn’t ordinary.

What ordinary people can do is try to hang onto their humanity as long as they can.  And that’s what this book is about.

You all should read it.  This is a catastrophe that’s anything but cozy.

And— if I may interrupt this commercial interruption for another commercial interruption— I should point out that this year’s Taos Toolbox still has a few places left.  So if you want a two-week experience in the New Mexico mountains in which you will obsess over writing fiction to a dangerous degree amid scenes of natural splendor— the very same experience which Will McIntosh, the newly-published writer had a few years back, you might just consider applying for this year.  Cuz you never know what insight may put you over the top, and it might even be one of mine.

Pat Mathews March 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Ah. This sounds interesting. So your Taos Toolbox student has been following the news for the last two decades, then. If he’s young enough, he’s probably never known a society in any other condition, except through period novels and history books. It would be interesting to see what he makes of it and how he gets the world out of it.

TJIC March 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm


(Btw, this is sort of the plot of the original Mad Max movie, as I understand it – shit just starts falling apart)

Rebecca March 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Interesting premise and a very eye-catching title.

I’d apply, but I don’t think your classes would benefit from someone lugging an infant along. 🙂 (Although “how to write amid distractions” might be a useful topic for a lot of us.) I’ll set myself a reminder for next year.

DensityDuck March 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

No Kindle? No money.

wjw March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Night Shade does their ebooks through Baen, and Baen will get a Kindle edition out sooner or later. Or at least that’s how it seemed to work with me.

Dave Bishop March 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

I’m expecting a ‘soft apocalypse’ to commence in the UK very soon. You see it all began when we exchanged progress for economic growth …

Steven Richards April 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Soft Apocalypse is a deeply racist book, pointlessly dividing good and bad characters along strict racial lines.

It’s also quite “class-ist”, everyone with assets is evil but the poor are relentlessly noble. While this is a common media narrative, in my experience life is much more complicated than that.

It also is full of media-narrative technical baloney.

I hate to see writers tarnished by an overdose of one-sided political bogus-conventional-narrative.

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