The End is Nigh offers up end of the world nightmare scenarios by some of my favorite authors: Hugh Howey, Seanan McGuire, and Paolo Bacigalupi (among many others).
I’m usually not one to go in for anthologies. They can can be questionably curated, with only a few stories worth the price of entry. But this one is an exception; mostly because it has a secret. Many anthologies are one-and-done affairs, where you get a bite-sized chunk of a world, enough to get engaged, only to have it disappear quicker than an ice cube on a Florida sidewalk in July. But y’see that “Triptych” in the subtitle up there? That’s because this is just the first of three planned books, with the second, The End is Now detailing the “during” part of the impending apocalypses from the first book and the third, The End Has Come slogging through the aftermath.
It also helps that the aforementioned authors have crafted some of the most amazing “end of the world as we know it” scenarios that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading (and that’s before they ever contributed to this book).
I’ve spent a lot of time, probably more than is healthy, contemplating how worlds will end: ones in the fiction I read, in the stories I write, the one I live in. Maybe this is a conceit of coming up on my fourth decade; but I feel like the pace, of everything, has accelerated. We’re rushing ever-faster towards something without much consideration for what that end result will look like or how it will change us. When I was in college, studying T.S. Eliot like a good little Lit student, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock resonated with me for reasons that I didn’t fully understand. Now I do. It takes time to understand that poem, to see how a life can unravel and take a world, even just the one from your perspective, along with it.
The stories in The End is Nigh might not alleviate my apocalyptic jitters; but they at least let me know that I’m not alone in my morbid curiosity for how this all will end. I’m an author, after all, I like to know how a story wraps up. The idea of walking out before the end of the show irks me (“I grow old, I grow old,” after all).
If you’ve exhausted your throwaway summer reads and are looking for a fix that will give you that summer blockbuster “popcorn apocalypse” feel, along with a healthy dose of contemplation, then you can’t go wrong here. I know I can’t wait to see how these stories play out in the next book!