Monday, October 5, 2015

When the Apocalypse Hits, Most of Us Are Useless


A couple of weeks ago I read this old sci-fi book The Disappearance by Philip Wylie.  It has a decent high concept:  one day in February at 4:05pm all the women disappear.  Actually it's like two universes are created, one where the women disappear and one where the men disappear.  (A similar idea was used more successfully in the comic book series Y the Last Man.)

The idea then is how the men cope vs. how the women cope.  Male society goes on pretty much the same except for a brief nuclear war that destroys Chicago and San Francisco and poisons Portland.  By contrast the female society basically turns to a Third World, with little electricity, technology, food, or clean water.  A cholera epidemic basically closes down Florida.  This is after most of the cities burn down because there's no one to fight fires--this was 1951.

There's a lot of rampant sexism on display, especially when the author talks about how women basically let men spoil them.  Ha ha ha.  As if women were the ones who were responsible for their domination by males.  So basically it's their own fault that their society went to shit.

To highlight this, the first American government of women is a bunch of bimbos who spend days debating what they should wear.  Because there are no capable political women like say Eleanor Roosevelt.  [eye roll]  The main female character works for them briefly as a translator when Russian women show up threatening war, until they're swayed by the bounties of American capitalism.  But she quits that and helping to organize relief in her hometown of Miami to stay home and mend dresses.  Because that other stuff is hard and she doesn't want people to think she's a lesbian or something. [more eye rolling]

Obvious sexism aside, it got me thinking that in any crisis most people of any stripe are useless.  I mean sure I'm a man but I have an accounting degree.  If there's a terrorist attack or nuclear war or zombie apocalypse what can I really contribute?  If the economy breaks down and there's no money, who needs accountants?  Or stockbrokers, ad execs, lawyers, or pretty much anyone in business?  Basically only people who have military/first responder experience, vocational training (like welding, machining, power plant operating, mining, etc.), or farming experience would really be much use in rebuilding the world.  The rest of us, male and female, will just stumble around living off the remains.  A man with a particular set of skills like Liam Neeson in Taken could pretty much take over the world.

So when the shit hits the fan, will you have any use to the remnants of society or not?  Probably not.


  1. That book sounds ridiculous. The author must have something against women.

    People are pretty good at adapting to different situations. Perhaps accountants can learn to hunt. I's either adapt or die and deep down most people want to survive.

  2. A world ruled only by men would be ruthless, brutal, and violent. Men lack compassion for others, and I think only women have the ability to change this quality in men. A world of men would enslave and murder the weak. Essentially, it would be hell on earth.

  3. Women have a whole different skill set than men. It would be a whole new ball game.



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