Like so many others enduring 2020 I really wasn’t sure I wanted to read Adam Roberts’ It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of? but having just finished reading it at (ironically 11:59) this is a book that genuinely transcends its own title and relates a more optimistic view of any such impending apocalypse and looks at whether the end really is nigh.
From various portrayals of the apocalypse, ranging from religious myths, Zombies, climate change, technology, all have brought about their own version of the end of the world. Adam Roberts in It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of? consider each, individually, and weighs up whether their viability to really be a portent of the end times. Roberts’ knowledge of popular culture makes this an intriguing and thought-provoking book without taking the subject too seriously, which greatly helps the book achieve its purpose of looking at the end of the world but in an easy and accessible manner which becomes more intriguing with each page.
The subject for me is one I’ve looked at within my own studies (at university) and my own writing, so Roberts’ use of sources such as cinema, books and other media such as video games is one that appeals to me greatly. As a lover of old B-Movies and 1950s/60s science-fiction, the end of the world has been dealt with more times than I can even care to mention. Roberts’ own experience as a science-fiction writer and his knowledge of literature is certainly put to good use here.
However, with all the pop culture aside It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of? takes a very serious tone (and quite rightly) when it comes to climate change. While the rest of the book takes a lighter-hearted approach, climate change is certainly a very real event within our lives and something we can’t ignore just by turning off the television. Roberts’ compelling narrative of the subject kept me riveted to the end and serves as a reminder that we are often the source of our own destruction.
Whether ‘the end is nigh’ or in some distant future the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet, and It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of? reminds us all that our survival is reliant on fragile means and our greatest fear is fear of ourselves and our own personal extinction. Whether it be Armageddon, Zombies, killer machines or just the end of the Universe our time is limited, but as the Welsh band, Super Furry Animals say, “At least it’s not the end of the world”.
• It’s the End of the World: But What Are We Really Afraid Of? by Adam Roberts is published by Elliott and Thompson Books (£12.99). To order a copy go to eandtbooks.com