Hope in Progress

This post is a part of a series of articles about Cloudscape’s Life Finds A Way anthology. Visit the landing page for more information on the project.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

The inspiration behind Life Finds a Way can be 100% blamed on three factors: the echo chamber that is social media, the 2016 American election, and my own morbid sense of humour.

When you hear on a regular basis that the world is going to end, that life as we know it will be snuffed in nuclear fire, and that civilization will collapse, panic fatigue sets in. There’s no more care to offer and in the place where you can’t worry any more you start looking at the end of the world as a problem to be solved rather than an end in of itself. Should there be a disaster that would “end the world as we know it,” what can be done, what do I know about humanity?

If a Nuclear-Biological-Chemical attack were to happen there isn’t much that could be done from a survival perspective, I would either be dead immediately, dead soon, or sufficiently outside of range to survive. So that’s easy enough to think my way through. Then, as the scenarios line up, it really came to a simple answer: “I can adapt.” But what about society?

As a rule during disasters once everyone has got the panic out of their system people are cooperative. Sure, there might be looting and madness at first, but in the wake of such actions people will rise to become helpers, to make things better. In the face of disasters across the globe we have seen communities band together to help and support each other in times of crisis. Each time we adapt and overcome with the hope that next time, we will have a better strategy to respond to disaster. Homo sapiens strength as a species is our ability to cooperate with each other.

In light of this I ask: why don’t we see more stories like these in post-apocalyptic fiction?

Why don’t we see examples of humanity in the crucible of a disaster and act in a way that proves the misanthropes wrong? Why is it as soon as anarchy reigns everyone dresses up in S&M gear and starts acting like complete lunatics? Why does it have to be the popular narrative in post-apocalyptic fiction?

The easy answer is that it makes for good drama, this narrative model makes for readily identifiable antagonists, it shows everything at its worst so that protagonists can rise above and prove themselves golden amidst the tarnished peoples. But that puts the individual ahead of the community, focusing on making fellow human beings the prominent source of conflict when the environment is enough of a challenge that you’d think that people would band together. These stories say: “Humanity sucks in crisis,” and in dark days it feels like it supports the misanthropic theory that should the world end as we know it we’ll spend more time fighting each other than trying to rebuild.

I was having dark days, and I wanted to prove the cynics wrong, or at least put out something that denies this pessimistic belief that I felt I was drowning in. I wanted to tell stories of humanity rising above the obstacles that seem insurmountable, I wanted to show human ingenuity and human determination while still working in the post-apocalyptic genre. Most importantly, I wanted to prove to myself that this exploration is something people could use to remind themselves that humanity’s resilience doesn’t have to come from a place of misanthropy.

So I reached out to my dear friend Alina Pete and asked her: “What about post-apocalyptic stories around the theme of hope? What about stories that are set long after the crisis of the end of the world and are showing humanity adapting and improving? What about an anthology of these stories where we don’t limit the style of apocalypse so long as the creators can show humanity’s adaptation and growth?”

I knew we had something when the ideas were flowing like a wellspring, this has been confirmed by every creator we have talked to about this idea. I have seen that same sparkle in their eyes that demonstrates enthusiasm and passion. We want to tell stories of humanity at its best, despite circumstance. We want to explore how to look at an apocalypse as a problem to be solved. We want to remind people that creativity, resilience, and community are the strengths of humanity.

Because of this we named it “Life Finds a Way,”

Just because the world as we knew it is gone doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to end with it.

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