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8:51 am
Tue September 6, 2011

What's In Store: 3 Tales Of A Terrifying Future

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 8:53 pm

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

I think there's probably a point to which civilization will evolve, and then all the gas and water will run out and we'll spend the rest of eternity trying to get back to the awesome times when we had, you know, food to eat. I really hope I'm not alive when that turning point arrives, because it will be bad.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We leave you this hour with some dystopian visions of the future from novels. Writer Drew Magary grew up watching The Jetsons, that happy futuristic family living in a sky high apartment. Well, for our series, Three Books, Magary recommends three novels that present the future in a darker light.

DREW MAGARY, BYLINE: When I was a kid, I assumed that, in the future, things would get better and better and better 'til we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. I kind of counted on this happening, frankly, but I don't assume we'll just keep going up anymore.

I think there's probably a point to which civilization will evolve and then all of the gas and water will run out and we'll spend the rest of eternity trying to get back to the awesome times when we had, like, food to eat.

Anyway, here are three books that envision life on earth after that dreaded turning point. Starting with "World War Z" by Max Brooks. Yes, I'm aware that it's physiologically impossible for dead people to get up and start walking around and eating other people. And yet, you never know now, do you?

There isn't a person alive who has read this book that hasn't immediately started making mental plans for the coming zombie apocalypse. I belong to a generation that is constantly taunted by potential worldwide plagues like SARS and avian flu. None of those things have ended up killing us all, but honestly, it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.

We've kind of earned it, frankly. God will only accept so many "Real Housewives" franchises before he decides to swing karma the other way.

Richard Matheson's hero in "I Am Legend" experiences both the loss of his wife and of humanity. But just to make things a little more horrible, Matheson also puts him under constant siege from bloodthirsty vampires and that's a fun thing to consider in an age of rapidly dwindling natural resources.

Once we run out of the basics, we may find ourselves at each other's mercy, spending the rest of our lives hiding from one another and just trying to stay alive, never being allowed even the tiny luxury to sit down in peace and process our grief.

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher asked me to do a book report, so because I hated reading, I chose the novelization of "Robocop." This was not a real book. It was merely a product tie-in to one of the most violent films of the 1980s, but it had pages and a cover, which made it legit enough for me. I wound up getting a C.

I am now a published novelist and if that doesn't terrify you about our coming future, well, then you're a stronger person than I. So there you have it - three novels that clearly demonstrate our inevitable future downfall. When you're hoarding gas and roaming the countryside with a shotgun in 2031, don't say you weren't adequately warned.

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BLOCK: That's Drew Magary. His novel is a creepy futuristic thriller called "The Post Mortal." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.