It’s the End of the World

It's the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of?

Title: It’s the End of the World

Writer: Adam Roberts

Publishing House: Elliot & Thompson

Date of Publication: August 27th 2020

Rating: 5 stars

‘’We are all mortal, and we will all die. One way of understanding our fascination with the end of the world is that such stories project our personal meeting onto the world. Just as we will each die, so the whole world will die at some point.’’

Doomsday, Ragnarok, Judgement Day. We may name it differently but the result is the same. We are terrified and fascinated by the end of the world. A concept (or a reality?) that has inspired glorious myths and legends, paintings, songs, novels and films. Whether we view it under a religious, scientific or cultural microscope, we love talking about the end of the world that mirrors our own terror in the face of the inevitable.

‘’If a person can die, so can a people. If a life can end, so can a world. And so we speculate.’’

Adam Roberts has written a fascinating book, rich in wit, spirited narration and utmost respect for every religion, culture and tradition. Writers, take heed! This is how you engage your readers without resorting to cringy smart-ass comments. He breaks down the various ways in which the end of the world has inspired cultural icons and convictions and the times when this ‘’end’’ look quite tangible throughout History. The Apocalypse of St. John (gloriously kick-ass read) with the Four Horsemen (always loved them…), the wrath of the gods and Ragnarok of Norse culture.

‘’For the great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand.’’

               Revelation 6:12 – 17

What can be more terrifying? The fact that the God (gods) we believe in is so angry with the mess we’ve made that he decides to deal with us once and for all or that we, ourselves, with or actions, our choices, our vices and greed are bound to be done with through climate change, our surest means to commit suicide? We don’t need zombies/aliens/robots/ plagues/viruses/ angry supernatural beings. All our wars, all our decisions for profit and dubious fame are enough to cost lives, to destroy the environment. To end the world.

‘’What, if by day or night, a devil were to sneak in upon you, during your moment of loneliest loneliness and say to you : ‘’This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will be compelled to live again, and again, and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every moment of suffering and every joy and every thought and lament and everything, whether small or great, you will return to as you live, all in the same succession and order – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and this moment and your meeting here with me, myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again – and you with it, you mote of dust!’’

       Friedrich Nietzche, The Gay Science

‘’What matters is not that we will lose, but how we lose – and that we go down fighting. It degrades one’s dignity, according to Norse culture, to whine about suffering or reverses. They are inevitable. What matters is not that they happen, but how much defiance we can face them with, both in life and in death.’’

Many thanks to Alison Menzies, and Elliott & Thompson for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.