They call to me. The twists of dust as they rasp across the broken highways. The punishing sun as it beats down from a too-bright sky. The black Army boots. The black leather jackets. The wind-worn, hardened faces, squinting towards the horizon to assess the danger of the next deathly harbinger.
I can't remember exactly when my obsession with apocalyptic fiction began. I know that Terminator 2 has been my favorite movie since my family first popped in the home-recorded VHS tape, indelibly etching scenes of desert-living preppers unveiling hidden arsenals into the backwaters of my brain. The sprawling wastes of Tatooine found similar lodgings in all their weathered, heat-rippled glory. Though the gameplay ultimately proved too frustrating for me, the dystopian aesthetic of Fallout never fails to fill me with intense longing, tickling at my subconscious with bitter, heady promise like the smell of the day's first cup of coffee.
It's the same feeling I get when I think about California. Which is probably due in part to the sometimes stark, uninhabited nature of the landscape...
... and in part to the feelings the place evokes. Nostalgia for the tougher, realer, simpler times of my childhood. Memories of dusty relics stuck in the past, with modern conveniences coming only as worn hand-me-downs whose original uses are all but forgotten. Long afternoons spent blasting along meltingly hot tarmac past futuristic fins spinning lazily atop their spires, the acrid smell of catalytic converters well past their due-dates forcing itself into idle musings. Wake up, the senses scream together. Reality is here. Everything else was just a dream.
Don't get me wrong - I love the life that society as we know it makes possible. If I were to survive a world-ending disaster, I'd probably be miserable. I know, logically, that this sepia-toned, blasted, hero-filled future is nothing more than manufactured fiction that glosses over the more miserable facets of societal breakdown. And yet, these stories never fail to touch me on a deeper, more meaningful level than shiny spaceships or fey forests (much as I love them).
I don't know what it means, but I do know that watching Furiosa conquer the world made my heart ache. How about you? Do you dystopian futures? Or do you have your own strange attachment to a type of fictional universe? Share below!
Also, if you liked this, you'll love my Cracked article: 6 Odd Things Doomsday Preppers Stockpile (That Make Sense)