It’s a little beyond the usual scope of the blog, but I wanted to plug a fantastic book I just read, Mechanique. A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. Following a circus of mechanical freaks who wander across a post-apocalyptic landscape, Mechanique is a story about love and desire with a little magic and a lot of meandering thrown in for good measure. Like in pre-apocalyptic life, it turns out that in the Circus Tresaulti you can’t always get what you want, and what you want is often exactly what’s worst for you.
To try and put a more historical spin on this post, I should mention that imagining the end of the world has been in fashion for a long time, from the Apocalypse of John to the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These days, most apocalyptic stories are fairly literal-minded: Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse, which features a good cross-section of recent ills, includes several extended economic meltdowns, prion disease, bird flu, dirty bombs, and zombies (for a review that gives a taste of the book’s wonderful style, see Michael Dirda’s in the Washington Post).
Mechanique‘s is a distinctly low-tech apocalypse, aside from the allusions to a war that’s more akin to World War Two than any of our post-Hiroshima nightmares, and there’s no explanation for what leads humanity to give up.This is a book about characters, and the terrible things they can do to each other, rather than the precise reasons that the world ends. Does this mean that our greatest fear today is of having to serve in a circus of mechanical monsters? Probably not, but Mechanique still worth reading.
The author, Genevieve Valentine, blogs on fantasy, fiction, and bad movies at http://www.genevievevalentine.com/