B is for Books

Posted by : | April 2, 2014

manuscripts do not burn

The piece of apocalyptic fiction that really hit me, to do with books at least, was Fahrenheit 451.

Imagine a world where books aren’t welcome any more – where firemen destroy instead of saving.  Where you can be the only person to remember a book, and therefore be as valuable AS the book.

I remember it as a hazy afternoon, with my partner playing on the computer, and me lying on the floor, reading the book – pre-Kindle, so it was made all the more poignant by the fact that the book was pristine when bought, and four hours later, a bit tatty and dog-eared and falling apart (poor quality binding I guess).

Will books be valuable in the apocalypse?

The thing is, I now consume books on an impractical for the apocalypse device.  I’d need to rig solar panels or something (my heroine does exactly that in North), so paper books are going to become important.  If they’re not irradiated, virus ridden or otherwise destroyed….
I think that maybe not for 1st gen survivors, but increasingly, books, and what they represent (knowledge, a window to the past and escape) will become increasingly more important.  Knowledge will become currency, so taking a whole book with you might be one of the ways to pay your way into another society.

I think books will be valuable, post-apocalypse, though – and not just for content.  I guess the other reality we’ll have to face is that they’ll be fuel.  And as much as my heart is heavy at the idea of burning them or using them for other things, books will probably become rare because of our actions. And in some ways, that comes full circle, back to Farenheight 451.  Burning books.

So…what’s your favourite apocalyptic fiction book?  What do you think of 2nd gen survivors using them as currency?
Also, check back Sunday, for my flash fiction story talking about exactly this!

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 2, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    You make some excellent points. People would use books for fuel, but those that survive would become precious objects. They would offer a glimpse into the past.

    Fahrenheit 451 impacted me greatly when I first read it, and it’s been with me ever since.

    I’m a minion in Captain Alex’s Ninja Army, and you can find me here:

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  1. […] isn’t about how to sell books.  It’s actually an expansion on the whole ‘will books/medicine be currency’ thought […]

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