It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Doomer fiction. I'm fascinated by the possible scenarios dreamed up by these imaginative artists, and I'm usually sucked right into the story. I love supposing what I would do in the characters' situations.
Like in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, would I just opt out, like the mother, or would I struggle to find something - anything - to feed my son and myself, while hiding from other people who decide not to struggle looking for old canned goods and just take the easy way by eating the other survivors. That book gave me nightmares, because there was no solution. The Earth was destroyed and nothing was growing. We never knew what happen, but it seemed to have been man-made.
But in the end, there was hope, but things were never going to be as they were ....
In Larry Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer the world is destroyed by a comet hitting the earth, and it's chaos. There are the usual characters: the unwilling hero; the weak, ineffectual female wholly dependent on the stronger men; the cannibals .... One group figures things out, though, and end up getting control of a nuclear power plant, and voila! The World As We Knew It redux. The end of that one saddened me, because no one learned anything. They didn't learn how to live better than we had been and didn't care to learn. They didn't want to be plunged back into the dark ages, which always seems the concern in most of the Doomer novels.
Which was what made Michael Bunker's The Wick Omnibus: The Complete Collection so very interesting ... and different. In fact, regarding the dark ages, and a potential return there to, he points out that, while Medieval cities were pretty horrible, Medieval life outside the cities, in villages where people lived unmolested (and he points out that the unmolested part is what's important), people could live just as long as people do today - even without all of our modern amenities. In short, modern life has not increased our potential for longevity, because people lived to ripe OLD ages even back when there were no flush toilets or a pill for every ailment.
The story in W1CK was engaging, as were the characters, and I found that I did care about them. I even enjoyed the omniscient narrator. The writing was wonderful, because Bunker is clearly well-read and interspersed in the action were some wonderful allusions to some fantastic writers and their works.
Additionally, throughout, the narrator would interject little factoids about our world society that pointed out how very fragile and dependent all of our systems are. It wouldn't take much for it all to simply crumble.
This book is a warning bell, a what-could-happen-if-we-don't-pay-attention. It starts out with a couple of natural disasters that really throw things into a tailspin, and while Bunker throws in an EMP attack, too, to really make things dicey, the fact is, as he points out in the beginning, a couple of natural disasters hitting too close together, could put this world in a very bad place. Our society is teetering on a very steep ledge and it wouldn't take much to plunge us into the abyss.
But if we're smart and if we're ready to live life differently, it won't be a hardship. We don't just have to survive. We can thrive.