Friday, October 15, 2021

Love in the Time of Pandemics

Emere Necromancer by Iga Oliwiak on Art Station

Fantasy Fiction fulfils a variety of purposes. It can entertain and inspire us, stimulate and awaken us. It can also teach, offering examples of how we, as a species, respond to life-threatening conflict and challenges.

It's best not to let the elements of fantasy fool you. Most writers of this genre are constantly exploreing real-world issues in contemporary ways.

Take pandemics, for example.

In the current state of the world, it's a good time to look at SF/Fantasy stories with contagions at their core. I'm particularly interested today in books that explore how disease influences our core relationships. Here are a few favorite examples.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

In this novel, zombie boy meets rebel girl and the very act awakens the cure. Here 'zombies' are those afflicted with a disease, one that threatens the entire human population.

First as his (zombie boy's) captive, then his reluctant guest, Julie (rebel girl) is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn't want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight. 

This book is a great read that doesn't shy away from a unique combination of humor, horror and human behavior in a time of dystopia.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

In David Arnold's The Electric Kingdom, the world is toast. It's not clear right away why, but the story hints toward a lab, a spill, a terrible mistake. 

This full-blown dystopia is on my 'must read' list. I loved the voices, the storytelling, the weaving of the different POVs... Two were in 3rd person and one in 1st. Very clever. 

The environment and stress of survival make for a grim backdrop -- the pandemic has basically won after all -- but there are these kids, with big hearts and so much hope. It shows how much that, no matter what happens, we reset and keep on living. 

While we can...

A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

There are few obvious elements of fantasy in this novel but I included it for variety, and excellent storytelling. The mystery had me guessing right up to the end!

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

You might also like Kang's Toxic for a stronger Fantasy perspective.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

This story is thought-provoking, getting inside your head and staying there long after you put it down.

Set in the days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

If you want to experience the death throes of a civilization on the brink, and still feel the warmth and resistance of love, this is it.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

This book is creepy, on the edge of horror for sure, with a story that centres on an epidemic that forces a severe social distancing... one more extreme than ever imagined.  

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. . . but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children's trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Netflix has turned this into a series and Malerman's Bird Box #2 came out in 2020. 

Now it's your turn. What's your favorite pandemic novel. I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


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Kim Falconer, writing YA Fantasy as A K Wilder, is the author of Crown of Bonesbook #1 in the Amassia Series. The sequel, Curse of Shadowsis due for release in June 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

You can Throw the Bones, read your monthly horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site or just drop a comment to chat. See you there!

1 comment:

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