Saturday, June 04, 2005

Intro.../ Rating System

For most people, the concept of doom, apocalypse, holocaust, the potential end of civilization as we know it, isn't high on their thought radar screen... but maybe it should be. We probably can't eliminate all life on Earth, but we have the capacity to eliminate ourselves and several other species, and that should cause serious reflection.

I for one LIKE living here, so I certainly hope it doesn't happen and believe we MUST do whatever we can to prevent it from happening. Despite this blog's title I am NOT a person who believes that such catastrophe is inevitable, that Earth would better off with humans extinct (as one old guy once told me while I was canvassing for Sierra Club), or that some god will come save his favorites and leave the rest of us to roast. As far as the latter goes, I find salvationism an incredibly irresponsible, narcissistic concept that in fact fuels the threats we face and divides us when we need unity to deal with them.

This blog is a look at the literature, film, and other expressions of apocalypse (mostly books, fiction and otherwise). We'll summarize and look at how realistic the story is in the light of modern technology and scientific knowledge, how well the story is crafted as a piece of writing, etc., or, if non-fiction, how accurate and clearly-presented the science and/or political arguments are. We'll also occasionally look at real-world events that might have an impact on our chances of having or avoiding a holocaust.

One caveat: I will review almost anything, and have several dozen books already, but have no interest in financially supporting fundamentalist ministries, so I will NOT buy books published by such ministries. If you already have an interest in this subject, I bet you can guess some of the ones I'm referring to -- the Left Behind series, for example. If someone wants to send them to me free, I'll read them, but I won't pay for them.

I'm doing this because, although there are several good apocalypse-related sites online (see some of them in my links list, and I welcome others), I've seen very few that do more than rank or briefly mention the books/films they list. Not here. I hope to spark some discussion of the concepts these tales contain and how they might help us find a way out of the mess we're in...

It finally occurred to me you might want some explanation of the rating system, so here it is. All reviews are rated 0 to 5 stars as follows:
0 = Unbelievable dreck with no redeeming qualities. Has to be REALLY bad to earn this one; I can't think of anything I've read in years that does.
* = Don't bother. Fundamentally flawed in numerous ways.
** = Fair. Its problems outweigh its good points.
*** = Good. Interesting and well-presented story and characters outweigh whatever flaws it has.
**** = Excellent. Strong characters and plot; plausible science (even if speculative) and psychology; realistic, etc.
***** = Masterpiece of the genre. Not just a great apocalypse story, but a great tale of humanity, fact or fiction, with some unique quality that stands out.

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