End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part 1 (The Bible through Y2K)

What’s news?

Some pretty big news, actually.  The picture I’ve included here is a shot of the newest addition to soon join the Dail family (trust me, there’s a baby there somewhere :)).  Having gone through IVF for our daughter, we are referring to this new one as our little Festivus miracle (Seinfeld anyone?)

On top of that good news, my daughter’s second birthday is this month.  While some days it seems like much longer than that, mostly I can’t believe she’s almost two.

So in honor of my children (and in hopes of a bright future provided to them by their writer father), I am putting The Imaginings on sale for 99 cents for the month of February.  Help me spread the word.

And if you feel so inclined, you might enjoy my post, Slowing Down: On the birth of my daughter.

What does the future hold?

Next Friday, I will finish what I start this week (wow, that sounds so final).  “End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part II (Oryx and Crake through Zombie stories)

But without further ado…

If you haven’t read my first ever blog post (Why do I like to write horror stories?)… well, I can’t blame you.  Coming in at about 1800 words, it was posted before I heard bloggers were supposed to be a little more brief.

But a theme I mention there (and in other posts) is that I grew up on the tail end of the Cold War.  As a child, I was pretty well convinced that any new day could bring nuclear annihilation.  I still remember the bombing drills we did in school.

That kind of stuff will scar a kid.  I’m no psychologist, but I think it explains why my generation is so well known for its embracing of extreme sports.  The world could end any second.  Why not try jumping off that skyscraper with a parachute?

I’m going to save a little of my possible explanations for next week, but for today I’ll just say that I think having grown a little older, that fear we grew up with has cultivated a healthy respect for stories that show civilization’s imminent destruction.  For me, it touches on something akin to other’s childhood monsters and boogeymen… something that could still be lurking just around the corner.

And there are some good stories that play on this fear/fascination.  I’m just going to list ten over the span of these two posts, so I look forward to your own comments and contributions.

Chronologically speaking, I’m going to start with The Holy Bible (don’t worry, I’ll get to 2012 in next week’s post, but it won’t address the Mayans so much as be an airing of my complaints about the 2009 movie).

So NOW without further ado…

THE HOLY BIBLE- This is kind of the granddaddy of scary stories, right?  Especially the Book of Revelation.  Are you kidding me?  I’ll be honest, I haven’t read it in years, and I didn’t have a strict religious upbringing, but there is some imagery in those pages that I will never forget.  This is God’s wrath after all, and just when the New Testament had painted Him not to be the vengeful pissed off God of the Old Testament.  Nothing like Christianity to put a little fear of the end of the world.  After all, no one wants to be “left behind.”

Orson Welles... almost as scary

MICHEL DE NOSTREDAME (NOSTRADAMUS 1503-1566)- Did anyone else see “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” about Nostradamus, hosted by a late-seventies Orson Welles?  Again, tail end of the cold war, and with everything else they were saying Nostradamus “predicted correctly,” when they started talking about the man with the blue turban who would start World War III, well, hello nightmares again.

Funny side note:  I saw this program again maybe eight years ago (actually probably pretty close.  It was probably re-aired in honor of Nostradamus’s 500th birthday).  Same version with Orson Welles, but they had changed some of the predictions that had lapsed since its original airing.  Or at least their interpretations of his predictions. Didn’t seem quite so scary this time around.

THE STAND (1978)-  Written by Stephen King.  I talk about this one a little more at my post, My Own Works Cited List: 10 books that have inspired me, if you’re curious.  It had it all.  A government conspiracy.  A super flu that spreads quicker than wildfire (and a terrifying chapter to illustrate this point).  And ultimately a showdown between Good and Evil.  And where does Evil set up camp?  In Las Vegas, of course.

THE TERMINATOR (1984)- Okay, I don’t hate to love this one.  It’s just plain awesome, and as a fan of the Hero’s Journey, it’s a great, entertaining study.  They even had a showing of it both years I went to the Maui Writer’s Retreat.  But it is certainly about the end of the world.  And it came out at the perfect time with the rise in computers we were seeing in this country.  What if they started thinking for themselves?  Had we ceded too much power to the gods of technology?  Had we opened Pandora’s Box?

Y2K- This gets into Fight Club type territory here, and I think is a nice segue from “The Terminator.”  What if our whole system of computerized numbers and counting just suddenly propelled us back to the year 1900?  I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.  Perhaps the best part for me was that I was living in Montana at the time.  And we were prepared.  Or at least my friends were.  Many of them were armed already for hunting.  I was in Missoula, but I knew some outdoor guides and outfitters up by the Flathead Lake who told me to come up there if things got crazy.

And I’ll admit, I kind of wish they did.  Granted, it would’ve been a major blow to my publishing aspirations, but there was a part of me that envisioned finding an old Underwood typewriter and become a bard of the new age.

I remember being at some good friends’ house as the countdown began.  There was a little bit of tension, but this particular crowd was actually a little more liberal, less gun-toting.  They were mostly positive thinking professionals, who had to think positive because most of their livelihoods depended on whether or not the power stayed on after 11:59:59 p.m.

There was a audible sigh of relief, followed quickly by laughter.  Then kissing.  Then more drinking.  At one point, my buddy Mike Guild said, “I should’ve stood over by the light switch and flicked the lights off at midnight when no one was looking.”

Yeah, that would’ve been sweet.  But it wasn’t the end of the world.

Not yet.

What do I want from you? 

Well, this is a two-part post, so there’s a possibility your suggestions might show up next week, but hell, start throwin’ ‘em out anyway.  Or any comments on my choices for this post.

And of course, don’t forget to check back next week for “End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part II (Oryx and Crake through Zombie stories).”

Finally, again, I’d hope you would help me spread the word about The Imaginings 99 cent sale for the month of February.

Please subscribe to this blog to receive posts via email or RSS feed (on the right hand column).  NO SPAM, I promise.

39 thoughts on “End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part 1 (The Bible through Y2K)

  1. Hi Paul, I wanted to hit LIKE and did not remember my password for wordpress! Congrats! I will be here next week! Sounds like life is good my friend. Love the ultrasound! I do not know the Seinfeld reference, but it was a show that made me laugh.
    Best always,

    1. Hey Catalina, thanks for stopping by and the kind words. Look forward to seeing you next week.

      Oh, and “Festivus” was George Costanza’s father’s made up holiday that took place around Christmas. “A Festivus for the rest of us.” 🙂

  2. Congratulations!! I can never see the baby in the ultrasound – or find Waldo either – but I am always tres excited to learn there is one!

    Great list today – I am a huge fan of the apocalypse-as-genre, from Buffy and Angel’s ongoing battles for the world to The Day After (teehee – remember that one?? Made-for-TV ’80s movies were the BEST), The Stand to the Zombie Movement (recently read “Feed” by Mira Grant – aka Seanan McGuire I believe – which was Stand-ish but in the blogosphere, very cool), to the new one I’m reading: Three Days to Never (which appears to have quantum theory meet neo-Nazis and threaten both the future AND the past – no small feat, that…). And I remember laughing about the Y2K thing – the laughter may have been due to the rent-out-our-favorite-bar New Year’s Eve party as much as the drama of it all tho… And I’m looking forward to next weeks’ continuation and your thoughts on Oryx & Crake – I’ve never been able to get into it, and am curious if this will be another Vonnegut moment for us… 😉

    1. Hey Jill, I’m going to have to rent The Day After. There was a movie from my childhood that I remember scarring me, and I think that’s the one.

      And how could I forget Buffy? More of a “threat of the end of the world,” I guess, than technically the end of the world.

      That does sound like some feat for Three Days to Never. Whew! I’ll have to check it out. And we may have a Vonnegut moment. Not that “Oryx and Crake” falls into my top list, but I found it interesting as far as the end of the world was concerned.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope all is well.

  3. Hi Paul,
    First off, and most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS!! Being the father of two children (I’ll be honest with you) for me, at least, was ten times harder than being the father of one. BUT, it is amazingly more rewarding, and I wouldn’t change a thing. My two boys are perfect, and they are a perfect fit together, too. So yeah, I am very pleased for you both, that’s fantastic news.
    As for end of the world stories, that’s a good list so far. I love The Stand, (it terrified me as a kid) and The Terminator (a time travel film that actually worked!) but I haven’t seen the Orson Welles narrated documentary.
    Will you be including On the Beach, by Neville Shute? I plan to review it at some point on my second blog Midnight Reads. For me it’s one of the best end of the world novels ever. Makes me cry every time I read it.
    Oryx and Crake, by the way, is fantastic too. I love Margaret Attwood.
    Look forward to reading more from you.

    1. Hey Ken, thanks for the kind/ominous words 🙂 I’ve heard that the second child is easier and harder (often from the same people). We’re definitely excited for a younger sibling for our daughter.

      I will be putting “On the Beach” on my TBR list. Not familiar with it, but I just looked it up. And I didn’t know you had a second blog. You’ll have to stop back and leave another link here.

      And I’ll look forward to seeing you back.

      1. ‘kind/ominous words’ LOL! Yeah, that’s why I always say ‘for me, at least’ as everyone is different and copes differently. You’ll probably find it a breeze!
        Link to the other blog http://midnightreads.co.uk/
        Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read The Screaming Mimi, then I hope my review will tempt you.
        Have a good weekend.

  4. Mega congratulations from me as well, Paul (and Mrs. Paul)!
    That’s wonderful.
    I also love end of the world stories. I’ve written a few. I think we like to dare ourselves to watch and read them because they are our worst nightmare ‘acted out.’ it’s kind of like doing something on a dare as a child.
    Many thought the world would end in 1000 A.D., other in 2000, later still the Mayan prediction of 2012.
    I think it’ll end eventually–the sun burns itself out or something along those lines.
    It’s just a fascinating topic–this end.
    Btw I think Revelations is fascinating. I always did.
    great post, Paul

    1. Carole, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      As of yet, I haven’t written any end of the world stories (although The Imaginings threatens the end of the world :))

      I agree that we are constantly under the threat of The End. But it will probably be something like the sun. Hopefully it’ll last a little longer.

      Thanks again.

  5. Just three things to add today:

    1. Congrats on the newbie, Paul! How exiting!

    2. We had a Y2K party at my house and one of my guests DID flick the lights. I recall the surge of adrenaline very well.

    3. And, dang, Arnold was hot back in the day!

    1. Hey Michelle, good to see you, and thanks for the kind words. That’s awesome that someone did actually flick the lights. I really wish he would’ve thought of it before.

      And Arnold was pretty good looking in Terminator. Not as bulky as “Conan,” but not too old yet, either 🙂

  6. Congrats my friend!!

    1. Thanks, Erik. Hope all is going well for you.

  7. Natalie Davis 02/03/2012 — 9:09 pm

    That was really good! I love this topic. The end of the world freaks me out. I don’t think I’ve even read Revelation the whole way through. I remember in Elementary watching movies on Hiroshima (sp?) and they showed the poor burned people. I was scarred for life. I don’t understand what the purpose of showing that was. It almost seems like the end of the world is coming soon the way things are with the economy and Iran, etc. We had to move to Hawaii from Utah just for my husband to find a job. (poor us) On my husband’s mission he and his companion were sitting at a hot dog stand and Orson Welle’s sat down by them. He said the them, “howdy, boys” and said “good hot dogs huh.” He then proceeded to chow down 5 of them. Ken said he was really fat. Back to the end of the world, we are going to try to get a food storage asap. If anything, just in case there is an earthquake here. And……congrats on the baby! Lucky! I’ve been trying to get prego with my second for over 3 years. How exciting, esp when the first was with IVF. I await the post next week! and I’m going to buy Imaginings. :())

    1. Natalie, some great comments (especially about Orson Welles. I can almost picture the scene. And yeah, he put on some pounds there at the end).

      Hmm. Food storage in Hawaii, eh? I may by paddling my little family over there if the end of the world comes 🙂

      And good luck with the second. We tried for probably three years before ending up going with IVF for our first. Funny how these things work.

  8. Happy Birthday to the birthday girl and congratulations for the forthcoming addition to the family.
    The end of the world can’t come until my beloved Cubbies look to win their first World Series since 1908. I have this vision of it being game 7 with the Cubs ahead and the sky rolls back like a scroll and I’m looking up, shouting: “Not yet, Lord! Three more outs!”


    1. Hey Jimmy, thanks for stopping by. For me, I only have personal goals I want to accomplish before the end of the world. Nice to see someone thinking about the bigger picture 🙂

      Hope it happens, my friend. My mom is a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago fan, so she might be there with you on this sentiment.

  9. The end of the world book I read most recently was Cell by Steven King. I finished it, but I don’t think it was as powerful as the more realistic sections of The Stand. I’m picky with my King though, because he’s capable of horror-god levels of awesomeness, and when he doesn’t quite make it there… well, sad me!

    Happy birthday to your first born, and welcome to your second!

    1. Hey Aniko, thanks for stopping by. Haven’t read “Cell.” It is hard to compete with The Stand. My wife, Jennifer, is reading The Dome currently. I think she’s enjoying it, but the cover touts that it’s some of his best work since The Stand. I wonder how many of his books they say that for.

      And thanks for your kind words. Hope you have a good weekend.

  10. Congrats, paul! My wife is bugging me for a third, so I’ll keep word of your little miracle to myself or she’ll get going again.

    My pick for a good apocalyptic book is The Four-gated City, by Doris Lessing. But it’s epically long so I don’t recommend it. Also, Earth, by David Brin, which is a little more positive.

    1. Mums the word, Mac. Considering at the other end of the spectrum, I have a stepdaughter graduating high school this year, I think this next one will be the last for us.

      As to your recommendations, I don’t mind epic, so long as it’s also engrossing. Will put them on the list. Much thanks for the suggestions.

  11. Quite a post, Paul!

    A lot of people talk about the fifties as being such a great time, but there were certainly a lot of bomb shelters and such being built, as you say. To go with the Mayan theory seems a bit far fetched to me as I find it difficult to accept the dogma from such a bunch of blood-letting folk. Their
    religious practices were so tinged with inhumanity that their scientific theories can not be accepted by me.

    I, too, love the Terminator movies. Arnold and Linda rocked in those.

    Blaze has written two end of world novellas. One involves Ghouls, and the other one is based on volcanic destruction. Gotta love the Ghoul one more though. New slant. 😀

    Happy birthday to the little one and congrats on the new child to come.


    1. Interesting point on the Mayans. I like that you disagree with them on principle. And why not? We pretty regularly dismiss the loonies who claim Nike-clad endings and the like. So why not the Mayans as well?

      And yup. The first two Terminators were both pretty stinkin’ good.

      Thanks for stopping by and your kind words. Hope you’re having a good weekend.

  12. Congratulations!
    It’s such a great surprise to see on your blog 🙂
    Best wishes to you and your family Paul–Happy Festivus!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Penelope. I debated putting it on the blog (and Jonathan just did a post which kind of addresses this), but figured most of my readers at this point are also at least acquaintances so why not?

      And it’s always nice to have more people thinking positive thoughts in our direction. We appreciate it.

      Happy Festivus right back at ya.

  13. “Granted, it would’ve been a major blow to my publishing aspirations, but there was a part of me that envisioned finding an old Underwood typewriter and become a bard of the new age.”

    This. And here I thought I was the only one hiding that apocalypse fantasy!

    1. Wouldn’t it be awesome? And when we weren’t using it to type, we could use it to fight off wild animals. Maybe we could all be part of a gang 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re having a good weekend.

  14. Congrats on your newest little addition!

    I love this list! I’m drawn to end of the world stories too. I guess it’s the chance (albeit through horrific tragedy) to be a hero, for a fresh start, to be a survivor with a group of people that usually wouldn’t have been thrown together in this way. I find these tales just as inspiring as they are terrifying.

    As a Walking Dead fan, I constantly worried that I am completely unprepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe I need a typewriter…too late to join your gang?

    1. Hey Steph, great to see you. Yes, there is definitely an element of inspiration… mostly (you’ll have to check back this Friday to see what I mean by that one).

      Also a big Walking Dead recent fan, and I’ll be talking about that on Friday, as well.

      You are welcome to join our gang. No flimsy fighting laptops for us!

  15. Congrats, Paul and family!
    My wife thinks I’m morbid for liking end of the world stories, but like you said, growing up at the end of the cold war, that was a major preoccupation as a kid.
    The World Made by Hand books by JH Kunstler are pretty good. More bucolic than horrific, they are still a good portrayal of what comes After.
    I’m so drawn to these themes that I’m writing a trilogy of novels. A novella that comprises the beginning of the first novel launched just this week for $.99: Brother’s Keeper. http://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Keeper-a-novella-ebook/dp/B0073WV30Y/.

    1. Hey Glen, fortunately my wife likes most of the same types of stories that I do. Other family members might wonder a little more about me, though (like her parents, perhaps:)).

      Thanks for leaving the link for your story. I’ll go check it out.

      1. My wife and I are basically opposites as far as the stories we like. She’s all about sweetness and happy endings, while I’m into gritty, grim tales. Somehow it works. Actually, when she reads one of my own stories for the first time, if she doesn’t really like it, that’s when I know I’m onto something.

  16. Ahh, love this series. Can relate to every entry. Obviously, we’ve discussed the Stand to death, and I think we both show signs of its influence. Stoked to see the Golden Parachute is out! I loved the original version, can’t wait to read this one.

    1. Yes, I think we have definitely talked about The Stand at length. And for good reason, eh? Someone else mentioned Swan Song. Have you read that one? I had forgotten about it, but might pick it up again. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Crap! I thought the world did end last May and I just missed the last train to paradise or was caught in a wonky limbo. That means some real people will be reading my novels anyway. As real as they get, I suppose.

    At any rate, my favorite end of the world novel goes to Kathryn Meyer Griffith for her masterpiece THE LAST VAMPIRE, put out by Damnation Books. I couldn’t put this novel down. She had me the entire way. Nothing else has even come close.


    1. Wow, that is a pretty rave review. I’ll definitely have to put it on the list. Thanks, my friend. And don’t worry, if you get left behind, you have a place to stay here 🙂

      1. This was a dynamite book!

        Hey: if everyone else is gone, we can read each others books. We would be #1 and #2 on the best selling charts.


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