After the End of the Whole Mess:
Isolation and Confinement in American Narratives of the Apocalypse
Theories abound on how the world might end. From polar shifts and seismic events to zombie plagues and climate crises, speculative storytellers have taken inspiration from the subject of the apocalypse. In this essay, Daniel Powell investigates the economic and social messages these stories communicate within the American narrative tradition.
In his introduction to the collection Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, editor John Joseph Adams defines the peak era for post-apocalyptic storytelling as the years between the conclusion of World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Adams writes about the lull in popularity of post-apocalyptic fiction in the 1990s and the renewed interest in the subgenre whose high point is marked by Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007.
His assessment makes sense. The four decades Adams identifies are among the most turbulent in this country's history. The 1950s saw a re-imagining of the American domestic ideal as families fled the country's urban centers, relocating to cheaper housing in suburbia. This exodus from the city, which fractured the paradigm of living and working in the same general area, was the catalyst for our country's umbilical dependence on the automobile, a circumstance that persists in 2010.
The 1960s bore witness to the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War as well as the dark atomic specter of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The suburban utopian ideal gained strong cultural momentum, and the shopping mall, a concept that had begun to take root in the mid-1950s, exploded in the 1960s, laying the foundation for a culture that has come to define itself through such whimsical phrases as “retail therapy” and “shopaholic.”
There were fuel shortages in the 1970s and heightened hand-wringing over climate change, though in that decade the worry focused on the possibility of entering another ice age, not of a ruinous warming of the earth's environment. Public health scares and environmental disasters, such as the contamination of groundwater in the Love Canal region of Niagara Falls, New York, captivated the public consciousness on the topics of our impact on the earth and each other.
The 1980s were home to marked volatility in the stock market (the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by almost 23 percent in one afternoon in October 1987) and expanding gaps between America's economic classes. The explosion of the AIDS virus cast a pall over the global community, and America was not immune. Paranoia about such obligatory social activities as shaking hands altered, for many years, how we viewed one another.
The fecundity of these events provided a genesis for such important texts as Pat Frank's Alas Babylon and Stephen King's The Stand. These events provided inspiration for such iconic films as Planet of the Apes (1968) and The Warriors (1979).
And all of these things happened under the ever-present shroud of the threat of nuclear annihilation. In an interview King recently gave on Salon.com, the author was asked which major catastrophe would have the greatest impact on human civilization. King, whose works have returned time and again to the post-apocalyptic subgenre, responded:
Nuclear weapons. No doubt about it. There are days when I get up and say, I cannot believe, I cannot fucking believe that it's been more than fifty years since one of those things got popped on an actual population. There are too many out there. One will get away, or someone will make one from spare parts and put it in a knapsack or blow it in Bombay or New York or San Francisco. (Marks)
King's pessimism on the threat posed by nuclear weapons isn't the only contemporary worry. From avian flu to global warming, there's no shortage of grist for the mill when it comes to topics for stories of the apocalypse in 2009.
But what happened in the interim? What happened in the 1990s?
Well, with the exception of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, peace happened. Economic prosperity reigned during Bill Clinton's term as president. The stock market surged throughout much of the decade (though the collapse of the dot.com sector did lead to isolated financial misery in the last two years of the decade).
But, generally speaking, things were good.
So let's return to Adams's question: Why the renewed interest?
Why have stories like Paolo Bacigalupi's “Pump Six” and Mary Rickert's “Bread and Bombs” struck such a resonant chord with readers? Why have films like The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Land of the Dead (2005) kindled serious economic and environmental scrutiny in the sphere of public discourse (Lovgren, DeGiglio-Bellemare)?
The answer lies, as it often does in American culture, with the marketplace.
On November 30, 1998, a scene of chaos and conflict unfolded on the streets of Seattle, Washington. Not unlike depictions of the end times in contemporary fiction, Seattle's impressive skyline was obscured by the smoke of impromptu fires and “tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades” (Hansen 763) as riot police tried to break up a protest of more than fifty thousand citizens concerned with the consequences of economic globalization. With anarchists (the so-called Black Bloc) smashing store windows and setting fires in buildings, the protests devolved into millions of dollars in lost holiday revenues and damaged properties for downtown merchants.
On that day, protesters levied their own form of judgment on “Nike Town . . . and other hated symbols of global capitalism” (Hansen 763). This movement, a resistance to a global marketplace whose immensity in scope has had incalculable consequences
- both for the good and bad of the cultures it's impacted - provides an appropriate response to Adams's question.
The answer rests in our understanding of the term “American” as it applies to our cultural definition. It's a definition founded in a history governed by a restless ethic of expansion and exploration. This is a western ideal, and one through which many citizens define beauty through the scope, size, and perfection of their homes, properties, and material possessions.
On one hand, Adams acknowledges the redemptive power of these apocalyptic narratives, writing that they fulfill “our taste for adventure, the thrill of discovery, the desire for a new frontier” (2).
But many American narratives of the apocalypse do more than just thrill us
- they scare us. They scare us with a vision of worlds in which natural resources are scarce and good people are in even shorter supply. They illustrate apocalyptic visions of confinement
- a stark challenge to our perceived right to unchecked mobility. Films like The Day After Tomorrow (2004) take things that Americans consider a birthright
- like the ability to drive obnoxiously inefficient vehicles - and castigate us for not changing our ways.
What follows is an analysis of American narratives of the apocalypse. The stories analyzed in this essay capture the spirit of apocalyptic storytelling over the last six decades, with an emphasis on fiction and film created in the last thirty years. These stories, as is typical in all rich bodies of literature, are varied in their approach to narrative structure, tone and voice, and content and theme. But they share a few similarities in that they frequently communicate a form of economic punishment for their beleaguered protagonists, as if to say that when the apocalypse comes, it comes not for us but for our things and our way of life. It comes for our ability to drink clean water without fear of becoming ill and shop in malls without being accosted by the dirty or deranged.
Of course, it's common for cultures to develop stories about the end times. Most of these stories engage in the “how” as opposed to the “why,” and are often cautionary in nature. They reflect religious ideologies. They seek to quantify, through predicted dates and specific occurrences, how the end will come. In doing so, they seek to impart some sense of control (or perceived control) by those whose lives will be impacted by the pending apocalypse.
A viral marketing ploy for the latest film in the post-apocalyptic genre, Roland Emmerich's 2012 goes so far as to create a mock scientific website, lending false credence to a popular alarmist theory that the Mayans have accurately predicted that the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012 (Sony Pictures). One of the more interesting messages delivered in the trailer, however, comes in the literal representation of the horrors visited on the earth. Scenes of great beauty are juxtaposed with images of the destruction of urban America. The pristine peaks of the Himalayas, and the austere monastery at the top of one mountain, are engulfed by the raging waters of a tsunami. This is directly contrasted with a sequence of a huge tidal wave pushing the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier onto the White House. The impact of the two symbols colliding in the latter sequence tells the audience, in no uncertain terms, that our military might and our political leadership don't stand a chance. On another level, though, the economic implications of the collision of objects can't be overlooked: the aircraft carrier symbolizes both technological superiority and sheer size, while the White House is an example of this country's appreciation for opulence and artifice.
The film has proven very popular, grossing over $65 million in opening-weekend revenues. And it's not just the Sony Company that is speculating on this particular story of the apocalypse. A quick Google search turns up dozens of discussions related to the theory that severe global environmental catastrophes will lead to the end of the world on that date. One of the more popular “scientific” explanations for why the Mayans were correct in their predictions is recounted at the website Survive 2012 by Robert Bast (www.survive2012.com). Under the subheading “insurance policy,” Bast outlines the rationale for the existence of his website:
I have no idea if something bad will happen in 2012 or not. Nobody really knows. Most homeowners have fire insurance, even though they do not expect their house to ever burn. They have it because losing their home and contents would be devastating, and insurance is quite cheap. The human species does not have an insurance policy that covers a global cataclysm in 2012. Until governments, organisations [sic] or high-worth individuals make an effort, my intention is to do the best I can, because at least 1 person out of 6 billion people should make an effort.
How pervasive is the alarmism? In his article “The Final Days,” New York Times Magazine writer Benjamin Anastas takes the pulse of the country:
Steven from Arizona - a caller on Coast to Coast AM late one night in February
- had slipped into a future reality and caught a glimpse of the devastation that was coming when the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupted. James in Omaha, on the other hand, was worried about the likelihood of a magnetic pole shift, while Rod from Edmonton had recently spoken to a member of the Canadian Parliament about the global-warming crisis and couldn't believe what he had heard.
“We're coming to an end time beyond anything that anybody has ever imagined,” Rod said with a trembling urgency. “The scientists right now, they're not even studying the real causes. The Kyoto treaty and CO2 have nothing to do with anything.”
Coast to Coast AM is an overnight radio show devoted to what its weekday host, George Noory, calls “the unusual mysteries of the world and the universe.” Broadcast out of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and carried nationwide on more than five hundred stations as well as the XM Radio satellite network, “Coast to Coast AM” is by far the highest-rated radio program in the country once the lights go out. The guest in the wee hours that February morning was Lawrence E. Joseph, the author of Apocalypse 2012
- billed as “a scientific investigation into civilization's end” - and he came on the air to tell the story of how the ancient Maya looked into the stars and predicted catastrophic changes to the earth, all pegged to the end date of an historical cycle on one of their calendars, Dec. 21, 2012.
“My motto tonight,” Noory intoned at the beginning of the program, “is be prepared, not scared.” What followed was a graphic recitation of disaster scenarios for 2012, including hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by solar storms, cracks forming in the earth's magnetic field and mass extinctions brought on by nuclear winter.
Whether the end results from a cataclysmic polar shift or collision with an asteroid, as is the premise of such Hollywood blockbusters as Deep Impact (1998) and Armageddon (1998), the consequences for Americans, at least within the boundaries of speculative storytelling, are almost always economic. From the consequences of personal confinement to the restrictions of a life without immediate access to an enormous accumulation of goods, these stories communicate that the end of capitalism would, for all intents and purposes, also spell the end of purposeful living.
I think one of humanity's finer collective traits is our social nature. From the foundational building block of the individual family to the collective identity of New York City, America's largest metropolis, the idea of community is one of our most sacred national ideals. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many of our most visceral and emotionally challenging stories of the end times revolve around the dissolution of community, in all its forms. Often, the impact of the dissolution is made all the more compelling because of the economic toll levied on these social structures.
J. G. Ballard's 1975 novel High Rise offers a caustic look at how technology can paradoxically catalyze human devolution. While not a distinctly “American” narrative (Ballard was a citizen of the UK), the titular building in which the story takes place does typify that ubiquitous specimen of urban Americana: the skyscraper. Ballard's prose
- spare, unflinching, and urgent - plumbs the depths of human depravity found deep in apocalyptic isolation. The first passage in the novel sets the narrative's tone, stating: “Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months” (7). By establishing context early, Ballard then takes the audience on a trip into madness that is all the more revolting in just how quickly this feat of devolution is accomplished. The irony in his tale is that a utopian ideal of progress
- a plush high rise replete with a supermarket, school, swimming pools, daycare, and a health spa
- is subverted into class warfare as the technology in the building rapidly fails. The high rise itself is a symbol of “making it” (that famed “deluxe apartment in the sky” of The Jeffersons fame) to the top rungs of the socioeconomic ladder; however, the genteel quickly slide into chaos and barbarism as their tools fail them, reverting back to a hunter-gatherer approach to accumulating resources. Paranoia reigns as particular floors in the building become hostile zones. Seemingly civilized tenants forsake their families and move from sexual conquest to sexual conquest.
It's a chilling indictment on the notion that, if the spoils of our financial success fail us, then we too are lost. Ballard's fiction returns to these ideals time and again, surfacing in such stories as “The Ultimate City” and “The Terminal Beach.” These stories articulate what editor Lynn M. Zott calls:
an emphasis on inner space as the most relevant frontier to be explored in contemporary science fiction [which has] influenced other authors and helped to revolutionize and deepen a form once marked by a proclivity for outer space, aliens, and interplanetary warfare. The inner space he chronicles lies between the external world of reality and internal world of the psyche. Ballard's characters interact with an Earth made irrational and bizarre by environmental degradation, media intrusion, and perversity. (1)
Indeed, Ballard's High Rise is more interested in how individuals behave when isolated from their financial resources than in any contrived threat from outside our known experience. High Rise communicates a certain yearning for cultural simplicity, but the message is also that we should be wary of sliding too far. The story stands as an allegory for striking a balance between the things we own and the things that come to own us.
Apocalyptic visions of isolation and confinement permeate the subgenre. Stephen King's 1980 novella The Mist, in which a government research project gone awry opens a door into another world, unleashing a creeping fog laden with murderous supernatural creatures, has a number of cautionary themes about the breakdown of culture through isolation. That the story's protagonists find themselves barricaded in a contemporary supermarket is an ironic plot development. King's assertion here is that, even inside our most sanitary and comfortable spaces, we're still vulnerable.
The story is both an indictment on nuclear testing and an excoriation of formal religion. On the former, David, our first-person narrator, in discussing the storm that brought the mist to this isolated region of northern Maine, casually surmises, “some people had dragged out that old chestnut about the long-range results of the fifties A-bomb tests again. That, and of course, the end of the world. The oldest chestnut of them all” (King 24). This offhand remark foreshadows the coming of the mist, which serves not as overt punishment (at least not for those who avoid its deadly shroud) but as a more insidious, covert form of punishment. These are Americans
- mostly stock characters thrown together in a combustible amalgamation of socioeconomic and political diversity
- and they're restricted from unchecked mobility.
Add to that vexing confinement the proselytizing of Mrs. Carmody, who stands in as the personification of a fallacious interpretation of the Bible, and you get an unpleasant vision of the end times, indeed. Early in their confinement, Carmody is a veritable fountain of bloody Bible verses on the apocalypse; as her influence grows among the paranoid survivors, she escalates the rhetoric to demanding a human sacrifice to placate the mist. Her followers build to a fever pitch in their attempt to carry out her desperate plan, but Carmody is instead shot by Ollie Weeks, the market's assistant manager
- allowing for the narrative's smallest bit of proactive redemption as David takes his son and a few other survivors on a quest to find civilization.
“The Mist,” not unlike George Romero's zombie-apocalypse films Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Land of the Dead (2005), levels an overt economic criticism in its use of setting and dialogue. While Romero's groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead (1968) runs its course in rural America, the influential director's sequel is a direct attack on the more corrosive aspects of capitalism. The story features a band of survivors who barricade themselves in an abandoned shopping mall. Outside the walls of the artificial public square that is the shopping mall, an environment cultural critic Naomi Klein has come to label “the antithesis of public space” (Viner), there exists a population of brain-hungry zombies, all lurching toward the place they were once happiest. Consider the following exchange:
Francine: What are they doing? Why do they come here?
Stephen: Some kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives. (Dawn of the Dead)
It's this sense of understanding the “zombifying power of commodity fetishism” (Harper) that drives the story's satirically apocalyptic message about the evils of consumption. In an important scene, the film's central characters go on a virtual shopping spree, taking goods at will from the mall's various shops. This “instant and celebratory gratification” (Harper) is initially cathartic for the trapped survivors, but as the apocalyptic confinement grows increasingly difficult to bear, it prompts Francine to remark that the mall is “so bright and neatly wrapped you don't see that it's a prison too” (Dawn of the Dead).
Romero's message on the evils of consumption as a roadmap to meaningful human experience is most apparent in his 2005 film Land of the Dead. In reshaping the mall culture of Dawn of the Dead (1975) toward heightened economic exclusivity in the creation of Fiddler's Green, a gated high-rise with anti-zombie defenses, Romero elevates the message beyond a mere indictment on the evils of consumption. The implications of this new world
- one in which strict economic lines of demarcation are equated with self-preservation
- are that the poor “normals” are less than human. They're merely fodder for the “other” that is the zombie horde, a shambling mob that Romero is clearly rooting for in this film. Indeed, the film “offers a very important statement on the reality of ‘lockdown America,' with its gated communities, its stark class divisions, and its racial demarcations” (DeGiglio-Bellemar). There's a sense of irony in the fact that the zombie horde, which is beginning to reason and think (a zombie cultural awakening, essentially), exemplifies the American ideals of mobility and freedom. For the rich, sequestered in the opulent Fiddler's Green, their confinement ultimately exacerbates their death. Their inability to flee the marauding zombies, led by Eugene Clark's “Big Daddy” character, is a direct outcome of their confinement.
This approach to depicting confinement extends, on larger scales, to whole cities and even to our sense of cultural continuity. In Escape from New York (1981), we see a literal wall erected around Manhattan. Set in 1997 in the wake of World War III, the country's financial center has been transformed into a maximum-security prison in an effort to reduce the country's 400 percent increase in crime. The criticism of unchecked financial exuberance here is, as in the Romero films, overt. Writer and director John Carpenter equates the financial shenanigans of Wall Street bankers and brokers to the acts of hardened criminals. The cultural criticism inherent in this film is further driven home in the fact that, just as the zombie horde is meant to illustrate social change in the Romero films, the president of the United States (Donald Pleasence) must be rescued by an irascible convict in Escape from New York (Kurt Russell as “Snake” Plisskin).
Russell's portrayal of the criminal Plisskin, who stands to win his pardon for successfully rescuing the president (in the process restoring his right to mobility), is a performance often lauded by critics for its strong anti-hero qualities. By confining Manhattan and juxtaposing the savior with the scoundrel, Carpenter is demanding that his audience analyze their perceptions of morality in American culture.
The messages inherent in apocalyptic confinement extend beyond the boundaries of the field of speculative fiction. Kristen Thompson, in her book Apocalyptic Dread, applies the framework of apocalyptic confinement to David Fincher's 1995 mystery Se7en:
Through its bleak portrait of a metropolis beset by random, arbitrary, and endless violence and apathy, Se7en suggests the complete absence of a future. Instead, the film is set in a perpetual present tense, understood in terms of serial, repetitive trauma. Without markers of time or place, Fincher's city is allegorically both nowhere and everywhere, prompting our own spectatorial anxiety. At the same time, through a stylistic homage to forties' architecture, its neo-noir mise-en-scčne visually recycles the past. Either way, Se7en's metropolis brackets any sense of future possibility, and exemplifies dread's ambivalence and fear of the future. (105)
Thompson's assertion here is that we enter our own cultural fall from grace when we stop caring about community. The hallmarks of social custom break down without these “markers of time or place,” relegating both the film's characters and, by extension, its audience to a state of existentialism
- another form of apocalyptic confinement. Indeed, this sense of nihilism is exacerbated by Se7en's message that the city, as a cultural entity, is “trapped within an endless temporal loop of stasis and repetition, in which corruption, violence and sin recur day after day, revealing a world of apathy, cynicism, and hopelessness in which there is no sense of a future” (Thompson 108).
A similar sense of cultural aimlessness is articulated in Joyce Carol Oates's 1966 story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Oates's depiction of the protagonist Connie, a shallow innocent on the cusp of womanhood, mirrors her view of Americana at a cultural crossroads. Of Connie, Oates writes that “she was fifteen and she had a quick nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors, or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right” (186). The contrast between Connie, who represents the youth of a shifting cultural landscape, and her mother, is starkly drawn: “Her mother had been pretty once too, if you could believe those old snapshots in the album, but now her looks were gone and that was why she was always after Connie” (186). The generational comparison then extends, symbolically, to an evaluation of social gathering places. Connie's penchant for hanging out at shopping centers, so she and her friends “could walk through the stores or go to a movie” (187), is a direct criticism of the sort of vapid, short-term answers that the marketplace provides on the keys to achieving happiness. Connie believes that, in order to become a woman, she must leverage her sexuality in a way that instills her with power, so she goes to the marketplace, essentially advertising herself. In this story's case, her introduction to the marketplace delivers her into the clutches of Arnold Friend, a symbolic representation of the temptations that mark a damaging entry into the adult experience.
This sense of transience and superficiality as byproducts of the marketplace is born of American ideals that took root in the 1950s. As Richard Sennett notes in his text The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism,
The classic American suburb was a bedroom community; in the last generation a different kind of suburb has arisen, more economically independent of the urban core, but not really town or village either; a place springs into life with the wave of a developer's wand, flourishes, and begins to decay all within a generation. Such communities are not empty of sociability or neighborliness, but no one in them becomes a long-term witness to another person's life. (20 - 21)
The implications of assertions such as those by Sennett and Thompson, and articulated in narratives like “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and Se7en, is that there is no true sense of “community” as it applies to life in contemporary America. These narratives and scholarly explications point to a crisis in the cultural environment, a sort of apocalyptic nihilism or social disconnect, which renders those it affects as isolated, confined, and alone.
This sense of isolation is best articulated in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Though not physically confined by the unnamed atrocities that have rendered the world both a dead and dying place, the story's protagonists, a man and his son, are burdened by a type of social isolation. In a world “populated by ‘men who would eat your children in front of your eyes' and looters who look like ‘shoppers in the commissaries of hell'” (Jones), a father must instill upon his son an ethic of civility in the discordant environment of the end times. An important motif McCarthy repeatedly visits is the notion that the man and his son are stewards of the fire of humanity
- that within themselves is the seed of goodness that elevates man to the top rung of the social ladder. The isolation in The Road, then, is manifested by the disassociation of basic human decency and the pressing biological urges to survive.
In one telling scene, the man and his son stumble across a group of imprisoned humans, some missing limbs, in the root cellar of an old farmhouse. After narrowly making their escape the boy asks, in characteristic youthful curiosity, why the people were shackled in the dark. When his father tells him that it was for food, the boy asks simply if they would ever eat another human being. When the father replies that they wouldn't, the two clear a huge narrative hurdle in the text. Life is filled with standards, and individuals must choose. Throughout the text, the man and the boy move together, in their simple interactions, codependence, and genuine love for each other, traveling away from apocalyptic confinement and toward a cultural solidity. While not a hopeful text, McCarthy's text ends hopefully, in the simple act of an accomplished goal and the passage of a sense of morality from one generation to the next.
As the hallmark of all good literature, apocalyptic storytelling provides us a lens through which to glimpse the human condition
- to act as voyeur into the lives of others. In ways both subtle and profound, these narratives duly deliver on the promise of the definition of the term “apocalypse,” which, roughly translated from the Greek language, means “lifting of the veil.” They thrill us with their explanations of survival and humble us with their messages of human persistence; they also serve as cautionary tales. From a wholly American perspective, these narratives speak to a future of confinement and isolation
- across physical, social, and mental thresholds. In doing so, these tales reinforce what it means to cherish community, personal mobility, and human connection.
Florida State College
Anastas, Benjamin. “The Final Days.” New York Times Magazine. 01 July 2007. Web. 17 Aug. 2009.
Ballard, J. G. High Rise. New York: Holt, 1975. Print.
Bast, Robert. Survive 2012. 2000 - 2009. Web. 17 Aug. 2009.
Dawn of the Dead. Dir. George Romero. Perf. David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross. Arrow Films, 2004. DVD.
DeGiglio-Bellemare, Mario. “Film Review: Land of the Dead.” Journal of Religion and Film 9.2 (Oct. 2005): n.p. Web. 12 Aug. 2009.
Escape from New York. Dir. John Carpenter. Perf. Kurt Russell, Lee Van Clef, Ernest Borgnine, and Donald Pleasence. MGM, 2003. DVD.
Hansen, Brian. “Globalization Backlash.” CQ Researcher 11.33 (2001): 761 - 84. Web. 12 Aug. 2009.
Harper, Stephen. “Zombies, Malls and the Consumerism Debate: George Romero's Dawn of the Dead.” Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture 1.2 (2002): n.p. Web. 20 Aug. 2009.
Jones, Malcolm. “On the Lost Highway.” Rev. of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Newsweek 148.14 (2006). Web. 20 Aug. 2009.
King, Stephen. “The Mist.” In Skeleton Crew. New York: Putnam: 1985. 21 - 134. Print.
Lovgren, Stefan. “‘Day After Tomorrow' Ice Age ‘Impossible,' Researcher Says.” National Geographic News. 27 May 2004. Web. 12 Aug. 2009.
Marks, John. “Stephen King's God Trip.” Salon.com. 23 Oct. 2008. Web. 13 Aug. 2009.
Masci, David. “The New Millennium.” CQ Researcher 9.39 (1999): 889 - 904. Web. 12 Aug. 2009.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. Knopf: 2006. Print.
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” In Literature. Ed. Daniel W. Powell. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 186 - 200. Print.
Sennett, Richard. The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Print.
Sony Pictures. 2012. Dir. By Roland Emmerich. Promotional trailer. 2009. Web. 17 Aug. 2009.
Thompson, Kristen Moana. Apocalyptic Dread. State University of New York Press, 2007. Web. 20 Aug. 2009.
Viner, Katharine. “Hand-to-Brand Combat: A Profile of Naomi Klein.” Common Dreams. 23 Sep. 2000. Originally published in The Guardian. Web. 19 Aug. 2009.
Zott, Lynn M., ed. “J(ames) G(raham) Ballard.” Short Story Criticism 53 (2002): 1 - 133. Web. 19 Aug. 2009.
Daniel Powell teaches English composition, film criticism, and American literature at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He writes speculative fiction and is an avid outdoorsman and long-distance runner. He enjoys fishing the tidal creeks and marshes of Duval County from atop his kayak, and he shares a small home near Florida's Intracoastal Waterway with his wife, Jeanne, and his daughter, Lyla. His web journal on speculative storytelling can be read at danielwpowell.blogspot.com.