But seriously, it’s amazing.
One of my favorite sci-fi books in the world is Warren Hammond’s Tides of Maritinia. It’s futuristic, it’s real, it’s gritty, but it’s also human, and hopeful in a way that gave me ALL THE FEELS.
This book has some echoes of that novel in the scenes on Station Eleven, a world invented by one of the characters and serialized in a graphic novel, passed down through time. The comic is set in a post-apocalyptic world, deep in space. Meanwhile, on earth, the end has come. A flu has wiped out 99.9% of the population, and the 0.1% left standing is siloed, holed up in little pockets, eking out an existence without electricity or running water. We float between the pre and post-plague worlds. We shift between characters, viewing the events leading up to the apocalypse, various moments when the reality of the end hit home, and the days, weeks, months, years, decades following the plague. At first, all of these events and people seem separate, disparate even. But as we read, the connections begin to show – tenuous at first, and then stronger and stronger, until at the end we see the brilliant pattern that was painted all along.
I will admit, when I first started this book, I almost put it down. It begins before the plague, and at first, I felt like I had been lied to, like the premise I’d been sold on was false. But then, a couple dozen pages in, it began – the plague, the promise, the story. And while I’m not generally a fan of prologues, especially sneaky, unlabeled prologues masquerading as regular chapters – these ones are important. They matter – to both the long and the short conceit of the novel.
What I love most about this book is the absolute humanity of it. I found myself, and echoes of myself, and twisted fun-house-mirror reflections of myself in its pages. I won’t lie, I think about the end of the world more than is probably healthy. It’s one of my strange coping mechanisms. When things get really dark in my world, I think about the super-volcano under Yellowstone erupting and I feel… lighter. It reminds me that as important as we all think we are, as critical as we all think our choices are, it’s all going to end, and we will all be dust, and the people who were supposed to hold our memories will also be dust. And then a book like this comes along, and I see that there is another way to feel hope. Because… There is more to humanity than the petty, than the bickering and the politics and the endless, endless fear that keeps us apart when we should be coming together.
We are more alike than we are different.
I am also a you.
You are loved. And so are they.
This book is a beautiful enigma. Its layers encompass mystery, intrigue, compassion, depth, humanity in all of its paradoxical contrast.
It contains multitudes.