This is a reprint of the letter from the editor in Unwinnable Weekly Issue Forty-Four – check out the excerpts at the end of the post. You can buy Issue Forty-Four individually now, or purchase a one-month subscription to make sure you never miss an issue!
I have been trying (ow) to write this (ow) for hours, but carpal tunnel or writer’s cramp or arthritis or some jerk with a voodoo doll is (OW) making it difficult.
One more example of why I wouldn’t last ten minutes in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, I guess.
I suppose this means I have to keep it brief.
As has happened a few times in the past, we wound up with an accidental theme issue this week. Within, we discuss the horrors and hilarity and romance of the end of the world, just in time for the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that by nearly all accounts revolutionizes the action movie and leaves other post-apocalyptic stories in the irradiated dust.
First up, Joe DeMartino gives us nightmares by running down some truly awful ways the world could end without us having a hope of stopping it. Michael Edwards explains why the release of Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just good, it is necessary. I pick at the reasons the apocalypse hold such appeal in popular culture (and provide a lengthy apocalyptic bibliography). Kenneth Lucas gets amped for cars, Fury Road and the forthcoming Mad Max videogame game. Finally, Ed Coleman leaves us (literally?) on a weirdly positive note, explaining why he wouldn’t want survive the end of the world.
Special thanks to Aaron Lee Hawn for providing all the art for this issue. His desert landscapes are really something else. Make sure to check out his work (links in the credits at the end of the issue).
That’s it for me. Try to survive the weekend without setting off a nuke, OK?
Send your letters to email@example.com – I want to know how you like Fury Road. I’ll print the best of them.
Jersey City (ow), New Jersey
May 14, 2015
Most post-apocalyptic stories are, at their core, somewhat optimistic. The nukes have fallen, the zombies are rampaging and popular fashion tastes are trending toward skull necklaces and assless chaps, but somehow, life still exists – and may even be flourishing. A nuclear war doesn’t prevent humanity from returning to the stars in A Canticle for Liebowitz, nor does it stop nation-states from reforming in Fallout. Even the Mad Max films feature towns and the trappings of cultural development. If a little bit of life survives, they contend, it’ll only be a matter of time before we continue our grand march of progress.
“Bad Shit,” by Joe DeMartino
No one could have predicted how badly the world would need a new Mad Max film in 2015. There’s a point in the lives of those passionate about pop culture when it all clicks, when the urge to seek things out becomes an obsession. The door opens and inside is a feast laid out on a table. Some things agree with you and you want to consume more. Sometimes it’s delicious pizza from that fancy little spot downtown and sometimes it’s crap from Domino’s. Doesn’t matter. You still want more.
“Mad Max, Now More Than Ever,” by Michael Edwards
And yet, apocalyptic fiction is generally optimistic. Despite it all, there are survivors. There could be no story in a true extinction event. No, in stories and movies and games, the apocalypse is rarely an apocalypse at all. These are hopeful wishes in the face of devastating change: that we will persevere, that we will retain some semblance of the morality that defines our humanity, that we won’t just cease. It’s kind of funny, when you think about it.
“Eschatology,” by Stu Horvath
I love the Mad Max movies and the apocalyptic, dystopian landscape that infests them. What’s not to love? The movies have a young, pre-meltdown Mel Gibson playing the ultimate anti-hero (though it’s not until the second film, The Road Warrior, that he settles into that characterization). They have one of the baddest cars to grace the silver screen, the Interceptor, AKA the Ford Falcon XB Coupe – Australia’s answer to the Mustang. They also contain a cast of colorful villains that show up vivid against the desolate landscape.
“Riding in the Wasteland,” by Kenneth Lucas
It’s time to face facts everybody, the apocalypse is coming. I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow, but if Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that it is entirely plausible that it could happen tomorrow. Why wouldn’t the world blow up just because the Mayans couldn’t conceive of a date beyond December 21, 2012? I mean, statistically speaking, at some point the apocalypse just has to happen, which probably helps to explain our cultural obsession with the concept. We love watching entertainment about the aftermath of alien attacks, or ape/robot uprisings or the zombie-fication of everyone. I guess it’s fun to imagine what will happen the day after everything is completely fucked – or 28 days after everything is fucked, as it were. But this genre of entertainment always forces me to face a hard fact about myself. If the apocalypse arrives, I have absolutely no interest in participating in humanity’s survival.
“Surviving the Apocalypse? Fuck that Shit!” by Ed Coleman