On Writing: Choosing the Apocalypse
By Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Pictured: An Orb from the bestselling scifi novel—ORBS
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about why I think Americans are obsessed with the apocalypse. But I never explained why I am—and I never explained why I choose to write in this genre.
I’ll start with the “ever since I was a kid,” cliché. Because honestly, my fascination with the apocalypse started when I was about 8. There’s no denying the fact my Friday night routine was nerdy. It started with a trip to Toy’s R Us for the newest Star Wars figurine. From there my parents would take me to Great Midwestern Café for a Tuna Salad Croissant. And finally I would lay on the carpet in front of our modest television and watch The X-Files. Mulder and Scully were my idols. Man oh man, I was in heaven.
I plowed through every Michael Crichton book I could get my hands on in the summer of 1992 and watched an alien burst through Ripley’s chest in Alien 3.
When I reached high school I watched and re-watched the Terminator. The idea of artificial intelligence terrified me. So what did I do? I stayed up late way too many nights reading S.M Stirling’s take on the Terminator universe.
In college I found myself oddly addicted to Lost.
There were hundreds of other movies, television shows and books I devoured by the time I started writing, but these I recall the most vividly.
Today I’m not just a fan of the genre, I’m an author writing exclusively about how life could end as we know it. But just recently I found myself wondering why—why do I find this subject matter to be so captivating?
As I sit here and write this I think it has to do with several factors. I believe the 100 Ways to Die show is an exaggeration, and not because it illustrates too many ways to die. I think it should include MORE. Over the years I have watched the Earth get destroyed by super volcanoes, solar storms, asteroids, global warming and seen the human race eradicated by aliens, super bugs, artificial intelligence, nuclear war and countless other things. My subconscious and conscious are both well connected with the various ways the apocalypse could arrive.
So why do I write these stories?
My main goal is to entertain readers. To help them escape from everyday life. But deep down, my goal is also to warn them. I may not be better prepared for the apocalypse because I know how it might arrive, but I know I will not be shocked when it does. Unless of course, I end up in an ORB. Then I will probably die laughing at the irony.