What science fiction and fantasy books don’t tell you about love
It’s 2012 and sources say an apocalypse is imminent. The masses are stockpiling food and supplies, learning hand-to-hand combat and machete skills (wait—maybe that’s just me), and converting their residences into safe houses. If you read science fiction and fantasy books or were one of the many who lined up to see The Hunger Games five times, you probably have some ideas of your own.
Thanks to modern technology, we can get apocalypse survival kits, zombie-annihilating weaponry and potable water systems online. Between The Walking Dead, Zombieland and The Sopranos, we’re overflowing with ideas for fulfilling our most basic needs, and there are hordes of books filled with guidelines and checklists for surviving the worst. There’s even Doomsday Preppers, a reality show that chronicles the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world.
Yet is anyone prepared for a whole new level of uncivilization? The lack of socializing alone will probably dehumanize those of us who survive. There won’t be any parties or clubs to go to, sports to watch or any forms of recreation aka debauchery for us to indulge in. At least I’ll never have to go to another bridal shower—that’s an unexpected perk never mentioned in science fiction and fantasy books, even the bestsellers.
More importantly, what will happen to our love lives? How will the single survivors meet people in the same boat? To survive as a species, we’ll have to procreate and that means dating—or at least hooking up. But I doubt that anyone will want to be a single parent in this dark and dangerous world, so it means either forgo sex and stay on the solo mission or only date with commitment in mind.
I’ve never read any fantasy and adventure novels that really prepare you for procreating in a post apocalypse world, let alone dating. If we’re going to do our part in propagating the species, we’ll probably need to lower our standards and have a strategy ready. We’ll have to change expectations, on both a physical and behavioral level—wining and dining will be a thing of the past and manners will fly out the window. No romantic dinner dates or weekend trips—no three date rule. In the kind of world painted in post apocalyptic books, every day is a grind, a constant battle to survive. Dating will be replaced with quickies performed in that rare stolen moment of privacy, after every other basic need is taken care of.
How will women navigate this new terrain—will the advice based on old school principles from crap like The Rules or Why Men Marry Bitches still apply? Should we still use protection, at least in the very beginning? Do we play hard to get or Miss Convenient-and-Super-Available? Since most post apocalyptic books don’t provide dating advice and there’s no proven how-to guide for end of the world relations, it looks like we’re on our own to figure this out. Or maybe we’ll figure out that it’s best to stay on our own.
In most fantasy and adventure books, the romance is a byproduct of the situation or stems from some old school crush. While film producers will invest millions in special effects to make aliens, zombie and natural disasters in movies seem real, the love relationships feel contrived and inauthentic. The heroes and heroines overcome insane odds to enjoy an overly romanticized affair that’s improbably immune to the stress, impending dangers and utter lack of personal hygiene we’ll be enduring on the regular at the end of the world. Love may be blind, but I have a feeling it also needs to be deaf, dumb and beyond unconditional to last in a post apocalypse world.