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What’s the plural of apocalypse?

April 14, 2010

I don’t think there’s a viable word for the plural of apocalypse. Certainly not in English, and I would have to look up other languages. It’s probably not the kind of word you need to pluralize…

Unless you’re reading science fiction.

Over the past several years, I’ve been quite impressed with the caliber of plotting and writing going on in YA fiction. Particularly on the speculative fiction side. I can’t confirm it based on numbers off the top of my head, but I’m almost certain there’s more, and a better variety of speculative YA writing than there was when I was in the target demographic. I certainly don’t remember a dedicated shelf for it. And, because the writing is consistently good, I find myself browsing that shelf even now.

There’s one sub-genre I don’t appreciate. The apocalypse, or post-apocalyptic science fiction. Brr! Drop a bomb, have a natural disaster, build a shelter, be the last surviving humans warily building a settlement— and count me right out of reading it. I get that it makes a good adventure. Sometimes, I even like the adventure parts: a good mad scientist, a mystery, some chasing.

But… yow! Apocalyptic scenarios are scarier to me than almost anything else: murder mysteries; the ghostly or magical supernatural; the medical thrillers that would make me squeamish to watch if they were films.  The supernatural or sci-fi Big Bad threat is just fine. Demons and vampires, sure!

But forget the plagues or natural disasters! Scenes in movies where recognizable landmarks are partially decayed terrify me, completely and viscerally. Why is it always the Statue of Liberty getting exploded or revealed in the futuristic human wreckage?

I feel odd when called upon to review them. Just finished reading one from the YA pile. Epitaph Road, set in 2097, depicts a future when 97 percent of the planet’s males have been wiped out by some mysterious virus. Despite my fears and misgivings, I got into it. It’s  more of a science and medical thriller, with enough futuristic customs and gadgets to blunt the edges. In contrast, the graphic novel series Y: The Last Man, a favorite of my Dad’s— feels a little too scarily close for comfort.

Off to read something else from the review stash-a nice, comforting thriller about a serial killer,and as far as I can tell, faeries in New Zealand.

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