So I've started the editing process for Scylla and Charybdis - which has involved, if you've been watching my Facebook feed, making lists upon lists to keep on hand for reference - and I made a realization.
I like to write about the apocalypse.
Or not the apocalypse itself, actually: what I like to write about is the era when the initial upheaval has passed, humanity has found ways to adapt and thrive, and nothing will ever be the same again - but people still look back and romanticize the past.
That's the backstory of Scylla and Charybdis. It's also, in a very different way, the backstory of Surgeburnt. In both cases, the destructive event is (comparatively) recent history: 110 years in Scylla and Charybdis and 90 in Surgeburnt. In the former case, I very specifically wanted the last people who would clearly remember what had happened to be dead and gone.
But this is also Undertaking Chances, my zombie novella, though the apocalypse is much closer - a matter of months - and the recovery incomplete.
I think that's the question that intrigues me: how do you get back to normal? What does normal look like when the rules have changed? I think I'm less interested in the survival and adaptation of individuals in the moment than the long-term systems that develop. (Which is maybe why I'm still stubbornly watching The Walking Dead - they've reached that phase where they recognize the need to put down roots and build. Far more interesting than the wandering-about.)
What happens to the old infrastructure? How does it get repurposed? What words and concepts - in language, in custom, in technology and the names of items - remain that once made perfect sense, but now are divorced from context? (I'm thinking of things like the phrase "roll up the windows" in a car, when we haven't had hand-cranks in years, or the fact that the Save icon in most computer programs looks like a tiny floppy disk.)
When everything changes, do we respond by trying to recapture the old, or by creating something new? Do we change our minds down the line? How reliable is nostalgia?
I grew up with such timing that I can clearly remember both the days before constant connectivity and the explosion of it, how excited we were. I remember the first time I saw a billboard with a web address on it and how much my family laughed. I remember the first camera phones and how everyone's reaction was, "What use is that? It won't catch on."
I remember saying, "Eh, by the time I need to text, there will be keyboards and I won't need to learn how to do it with the number pad." ... and I was right.
So because of this, I think, one of the elements I'm always interested in is taking that all-encompassing infrastructure and shattering it. How does society deal with broken links in that chain? Is constant connectivity too addictive to give up?
... all right, the fact that I'm a grumpy hermit might have something to do with my take on this aspect, too.
So: bring on the apocalypse! I have work to do.