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(two people watching a mushroom cloud) This is probably our very last chance to check our Klout scores.

You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly.

You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly. published on No Comments on You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly.

I was a baby in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, a young child when Nixon floated Madman Theory, a high school student when I first learned just how many nuclear weapons there were in the world, and a university student when Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative threatened to destabilize the nuclear balance… and my first full-time job was with a pro-disarmament NGO.

Funny that I don’t often think about the threat of global nuclear war as a formative influence in my life. (Maybe kids today will be a little more self-aware, and able to see how the prospect of catastrophic climate change shaped their lives.) But there’s no question it was.

One happy side effect is that it means I find end-of-the-world scenarios intriguing, and that led me to read The Last Policeman trilogy. (That wording looks weird, but less so than “the The Last Policeman trilogy.”) Humanity discovers the Earth is about to get shmucked by a comet, and the three novels trace the six months before impact, as seen through the eyes of a police detective who insists on solving crimes even though, dude, comet.

It’s terrific, and if you like really good procedurals plus a dose of impending doom, wow, is this the series for you.

And while it isn’t apocalyptic, I’m excited as hell for October 6 and the release of Ancillary Mercy, the final novel in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy. This is wildly inventive stuff that raises some fascinating questions about identity and what it means to be alive… when it isn’t diving into nerve-gnawing suspense and gripping action, with a protagonist unlike any I’ve ever encountered.

If I had time to read just one last book before the world ended (and couldn’t spend the time with Alex and the kids because, I don’t know, I was in another city, and all the planes were grounded and communications were down — try not to overthink this, Rob), this would be the one.

Got some recommendations of your own? Just published a haunting trilogy set in the waning hours of civilization’s twilight? Plug away in the comments.

(flying lizards eat a fleeing populace. One person tells another) So far, the new normal sucks.

A brighter tomorrow

A brighter tomorrow published on No Comments on A brighter tomorrow

When it came to hope for the future, I was raised on a mixed diet: the optimism of Star Trek and Isaac Asimov, and the stark threat of nuclear holocaust.

And since then, I’ve been whipsawed between the threat of ecological catastrophe, pandemic flu, peak oil, fundamentalism, and global economic collapse; and promising things like renewable energy and the outbreak of pro-democracy movements.

One thing that’s been firmly planted on the hope side of those scales is the Internet. Ever since I first clicked on a hyperlink, I’ve been seized with the net’s ability to connect people, creativity and ideas across the limitations of national boundaries, geographical distance, language, class, religion and even open warfare.

And I don’t think it’s worth severely compromising that ability just to preserve a dying business model… even one that helped to bring those Star Trek episodes to me. I say this as a cartoonist who gets pretty wistful reading about the days when there were loads of high-paying (or just “paying”) markets for cartoons and freelance writers. I’d love that.

I just love the free and open Internet more.

But where are my manners? Here, have some of the last tinned peas on the planet.

But where are my manners? Here, have some of the last tinned peas on the planet. published on No Comments on But where are my manners? Here, have some of the last tinned peas on the planet.

I know that Robert McKee says character is only really revealed under pressure. But I’d like to think that we’re basically the same people whether we’re mingling at a cocktail party or fighting off hordes of the undead with only a plastic coat hanger and a loofah. “Oh, you must meet the Hendersons. They just became zombies, too!”