Post-Pandemic SciFi is Here
After the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic settled in, I wondered how SciFi writers could have been so naive about our response to catastrophe in terms of corruption and collective stupidity on Earth. There is a certain idealism present in all those books and movies. You know how it goes; a political leader rises to the occasion and becomes a true hero by leading a team of experts who save the day while the public plays along and cooperates.
Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, movies like Contagion look like a joke.
Sure, we saw elements of that play out in the last two years of the actual pandemic. Still, we’ve also seen enormous amounts of ignorance, stupidity, plain selfishness, and of course, corruption on all levels of society, which is why the virus is still very much in circulation.
Can storytellers incorporate that into their plotlines, or will we be fed the same idealistic narrative all over again?
Wait no more; the time has come when the first post-pandemic books are beginning to hit the shelves.
I preordered Sea of Tranquility when it was first announced, and at the time, I had no idea what it would be about. Once an author gains my trust, I like to keep myself ignorant of their future work.
(minor spoilers ahead)
In part, this book is about a pandemic, too, although it is so much more. But the pandemic part hit me the most because it is — in a barely disguised way — an autobiographical narrative of a female author who wrote a book about a pandemic just before an actual one hit. Much like Emily St. John Mandel did, and so both of them, the real author and her mirrored character, had to answer endless strings of questions like “How does it feel like to experience this pandemic as someone who wrote a book about it?”
It was the whole pandemic thing that got me interested in her books in the first place. A year and a half into the Covid-19 crisis, I discovered Station Eleven and devoured it like a fresh baguette. It was one of those rare books that bypassed the idealism I described above and gave a true account of what the stakes are in a situation like this. For the first…