TEOTWAWKI or “The End Of The World As We Know It” is a brand which has been traditionally applied to post-apocalyptic movies, games, and books. In such narratives, the story begins AFTER some cataclysmic event has forever altered life on Earth.
SHTF or “Shit Hits The Fan” stories are about, or take place DURING the cataclysmic event. (Most “patriot fiction” fits inside this genre.)
It occurred to me we’ve been throwing everything under the TEOTWAWKI umbrella (including my own latest novel). Because I review so much work in the genre, I have now made a SHTF category and moved all (I hope) the relevant posts into it, for ease and accuracy of navigation.
I’ve been consuming a lot of SHTF and TEOTWAWKI entertainment lately. Recently I’ve tossed two books aside before finishing them. That has prompted me to create a new category called “Pet Peeves,” and this is my first post to be categorized that way.
There are a few different tropes that often annoy me enough to quit watching or reading whatever incorporates them. As regular readers of Virtual Pulp can probably guess, left-wing propaganda is one of them (explaining why I rarely go to movies anymore, and never watch TV). Another nauseating trope is the obligatory “strong female character,” which in action/adventure manifests as the obligatory Amazon Superninja.
Another deal-breaker for me is excessive stupidity, in whatever form. Going back to TEOTWAWKI, this is why I didn’t get very far watching the Jericho series on Netflix. It started out with a lot of promise, but smacked me out of my suspension of disbelief too many times to even be engaged by the point where we discover the EMP was caused by the Right Wing Boogeyman (egads! What a surprise!).
I recently picked up a handful of books on free promotion, for my Kindle. One of them featured a rare (for the SHTF genre) protagonist: an extremely naive civilian suburbanite victim of normalcy bias. I know too many people like this guy in real life (throw a rock in North America, and you’ll hit one), and find them a real challenge to engage with on any meaningful level. Yet, for me, it was a unique storytelling perspective (and perhaps overdue), and I guessed he would have to wise up in order to survive.
The character did show signs of maturing over the course of several chapters, and I gritted my teeth through his Pollyana attitude/reactions. I even held my peace, with an eye-roll or two, at how cash was still accepted after the economy, infrastructure, and even government itself were all rendered moot.
Then I came to a scene in which the protag and his companions are waylayed by literal highway robbers. Our hero is armed. The villains are not. He has some supplies he and his pals will require to survive along their journey. The bad guys want to take it.
So he lets them take it, in an alleged compromise (they won’t rape the girl traveling with him).
You have to wonder why some people even have guns, if they’re unwilling to use them even in matters of survival. The sad part is, this character is all too real, and the “compromise” is too perfect a metaphor for how we’ve allowed our freedoms, our government, and our country to be “compromised” away from us. Real life and its stupid people are more than enough, thank-you. This story and character is too much stupidity for something I read voluntarily and sacrifice time for.
The population has been so relentlessly conditioned that it’s hard to escape from the malignant sodomiphilic echo chamber even in indie fiction.
Another book in the genre was also from a suburbanite perspective. There were some trace amounts of the “all men are rapists” attitude in this one, but it wasn’t so “in your face” as to make it unreadable. I had finished reading about 90% of the book before the author sucker-punched me by revealing a character as homosexual.
The reaction to this by one of the main characters was how all reasonable, “open-minded” people are supposed to react: immediate support, equal or surpassing what a “straight” individual should get. Just in case there are still some dirty brains still out there, the efforts to wash them are ubiquitous and never-ending.
No thanks. Pass. I have no interest in reading the remaining 10%.
THE ROAD/JOURNEY PLOT
This really should have been pondered long ago, but only lately has it really become a point of fascination to me that 95-99% of post-apocalyptic tales depict a journey of the protagonist. Most often, the journey is taken in order to reunite with family.
On the one hand, this makes a lot of sense. When the SHTF a lot of people will be separated from loved ones by varying distances. They’ll be away on a business trip, or at the office, grocery store, etc., when disaster strikes. So it’s a valid plot.
It’s also a grossly overused plot. So overused that I’m now rethinking a few sequels to False Flag, and a zombie parody I had in mind.
That’s all for now. Happy weekend.