Mike's Reviews > Soft Apocalypse

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh
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May 22, 11

bookshelves: post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, speculative-fiction, technology, hugo-award-winner
Read on May 22, 2011

In 1925, T.S. Eliot published his poem "The Hollow Men." The final lines are probably the most quoted from his poetry:

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

It is impossible to read "Soft Apocalypse" without recalling that stanza. It is 2023 and world civilization is crumbling. Our protagonists are a tribe of nomadic young people, dissolute, impoverished, and having no destination worthy of reaching.

Will McIntosh never presents us with a clear reason for the collapse of society just as Cormac McCarthy never revealed the circumstances that set his father and son pair on "The Road." Just accept the fact that whatever happened it was really, really bad.

I'm not saying that McIntosh is a writer to be easily dismissed. His short stories have brought him acclaim beginning in 2003. His story "Bridesicle" won the Hugo for best short story in 2010. "Soft Apocalypse" originally appeared as a short story and was well received. Perhaps McIntosh should have chosen another tale to debut in novel length.

McIntosh received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Georgia in 1990. Another short story is slated for feature film release this year. I'll be watching for more of McIntosh's work in the future. I wish I could say I enjoyed his debut novel more. The three star rating is a stretch. The novel deserves better than a two. However, without attempting to insert any spoilers, McIntosh has written a tale of resignation, acceptance and surrender--just not my cup of tea.

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