REVIEW: “Transcripts of Tapes Found Near The Depot, 06-45” by Laura Duerr

Review of Laura Duerr, “Transcripts of Tapes Found Near The Depot, 06-45”, Luna Station Quarterly 36 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

One often thinks of “post-apocalyptic fiction” as involving some sort of discrete apocalypse, a single event that separates history into “before” and “after”. Nuclear war, or an asteroid hitting the earth, or something like that. It’s easy to read stories like that as fiction, because people are bad at calculating the realistic odds of events like that actually happening.

But apocalypses can also be gradual things, things where there is no clear starting point, no clear moment where we can say “this is where things went wrong”. Global warming is one of those insidious apocalypses, and the likelihood is high that we’ve probably already past the moment where things first went wrong.

Which makes stories like Duerr’s — clearly in the post-apocalyptic genre, but where the apocalypse is a gradual, continuous event rather than a discrete one — hard to read, because they are a bit too much like truth and a bit too little like fiction. These tape transcripts are from our near future, and describe a world where the rivers have dried up, so there is no water left to power the generators, which means no power, which means no internet, but no one wants to go onto the internet anyway, because all the woe and horror drown out any useful information. They’re a mirror of a potential future, at least, and a scary future it is.