Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If the fire dies, who would you want to hang out with.

One of my favourite books is by SM Stirling, an examination of what might happen if the "fire" goes out of the world, electricity, gunpowder, in fact anything that goes bang. The REASON I like it is it makes me see the world differently. That big rain recently? Imagine if you had to try and keep up all that infrastructure without power, or cars. How long would the roads last before they would simply disappear. You only have to see the grass beside the road grow a metre while it's still too wet to mow to realize that our ordered world needs a lot to keep it that way.

Now I could fool myself and think if the impossible happened and all the power went away that I'd be better off than most. By about one week I reckon. I have a cow and bees and chooks, but my garden is pretty poor and the fruit trees are a few years off truly producing and the tanks don't have gravity feed yet.

Stirling really looked at the way people reacted though. Some started little dictatorships. One group banded together and formed a clan. It truly was just pitching in and helping each other till things got back on keel. It only worked because of the attitudes of the people made it work. A different bunch trying the same thing might have torn themselves apart in a week. This is what I love about his writing, it makes a filter for your brain that can just drop in at unexpected times.

We've just come back from a weeks holiday at my parents beach shack at Curtis Island. It's a fibro open house and has solar power, tanks and home made solar hot water. It's not for everyone. There is bugger all privacy and you have to moderate your lifestyle for the resources. For the last six years a group of our mates have been joining us on and off for a week at The Island. I do all the cooking and we go fishing and play lots of cards. There is a mountain of washing up and little jobs but things just get done. There is no TV. A fair bit of drinking. But halfway through the week it struck me, if the fire died and I had to band together with a group of people, this would be them.

Unselfish, thoughtful, funny, willing to learn and always there when a job needed doing, that's the sort of people I'd want if my life depended on it. Luckily it doesn't, so we can still just go fishing, eat, play cards and drink beer.

- Lantanaland from my iPhone

Location:In Bed


  1. Ohhh that's so sweet. Yeah genuinely thoughtful people would make the best groups in an unpredictable world. Curtis crew aside however, I wonder in such a situation weather people would show some colours you never dreamed they had. You would certainly really get to know people for better or for worse. Give me predictability (and holidays on Curtis Island) any day.

  2. I'd be really bad in an apocalyptic scenario.

    I assume I'd be the stupid one who'd steal all the food then wander off into the dangerous night to get stabbed.

    It's really nice you have cool friends like that. I don't know anyone who'd want to hang out with me for a week without distractions of technology.

  3. Sure a nice post from you beeso! I think you are being too hard on yourself. you would at least be better off by two weeks!!

  4. If the fire dies, I get some magnets, and some coils of wire, and bring the f**king fire back. Or build some sort of rudimentary particle accelerator, I can't remember which is which

  5. If the fires die can we have Dr Yobbo in our camp please?

  6. Heh.

    D'you imagine I didn't think about this when I agreed to have kids?

    Within a day's travel hereabouts (on foot or by bicycle) I can source two blacksmiths, five or six doctors, any number of very functional farms and farmers, people who know how to work with horses (including heavy horses) and livestock of all sorts...

    This area is full of incredibly practical people who are only one generation removed from people who did this stuff for themselves. If the fire dies... well, it'll be inconvenient. I'll miss the Internet. But we'll eat, and the kids will grow up in health, with a future.

    Personally, I'd really like to have around me the people I bonded with at college. They're brilliant. But... film professors (and directors), software engineers, lawyers, town planners, novellists, operatic singers, anthropologists -- not necessarily the most practical to have on hand.

    Great at parties, though!

  7. You should have a look at the BBC series "Survivors". It's a remake of the 1970's series written by Terry Nation (Terry was the guy who created the Daleks.....) and is all about post apocalyptic society.