My war was cold. I grew up waiting for the cold war to heat up. It never did. There were some tense moments when Castro invited the Russians to his island with their atomic bombs, and President Kennedy said, “Go home.” They went.
In the meantime, I prepared for the cold war to go hot by hiding under my desk at school and every Saturday watching movies filled with mutants, fallout, and radiated wastelands. Those movies gave my bad dreams and ignited my imagination.
My generation invented dystopian, futuristic, end-of-times storytelling. Godzilla wasn’t just a big lizard; he was also a metaphor for rampaging, worldwide destruction. Not to mention, he made a few bucks in the movies.
I grew up thinking about fallout shelters and mutant monsters.
And now I write “Prepper” fiction, among other genres. It’s a sub genre of fiction falling under science fiction but without the ray guns. It’s a category of action adventure with a futuristic theme but without the space aliens. It’s a kind of speculative writing but without the zombies. Humans are the zombies.
Prepper fiction is a realistic, what-if, survival story. Pat Frank’s “Alas Babylon” written in the 1950’s, dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear war and set in Florida was a national best seller and is a classic example of the genre. Doomsday possibilities include: solar flares, EMP attacks, financial collapse, nuclear warfare, invasion, pandemic, ecological disasters, and the list goes on . . .
Prepper fiction is an exercise in imagination.
Prepper fiction can be frightening.
Prepper fiction examines the collapse and re-formation of societal constructs.
Prepper fiction deals with preparations for “doomsday” scenarios or the lack thereof . . .
I’ve had people say to me that my books gave them bad dreams. At first, I was horrified and thought, “Oh no. What have I done?” But then, on future examination, I thought, after rubbing my hands together in glee, “Oh my! What have I done?!!”
Prepper fiction is not your momma’s cotton candy romance, although romance in a doomsday setting can be much more intense and realistic than an average love story. Sex and pregnancy become a life and death theme without modern medicine.
In a prepper novel, life becomes an exercise in imagination filled with “what if” questions.
What if there’s no electric? What if I can’t refrigerate my food? What if I can’t buy gas? What if there’s no money?
How would I find clean, drinking water? How do I stay clean? Preserve food? Stitch a wound? Set a bone? Pickle a cucumber? Keep bugs off? Have safe sex? Stay human and hopeful?
Prepper fiction is action/adventure set in a realistic apocalyptic collapse of civilization that some people will be prepared for but most will not.
It can be scary, intense, and upsetting. It can also get readers to think . . . and maybe, just maybe . . . prepare.
Linda (Bunker Babe) Zern