SPOILERS FOR BOTH
“Some folks will say — okay, there are topics and subjects you can’t write about. Which is nonsense, obviously. Everything is the domain of fiction. Nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted. It must be, for fiction to maintain its teeth. Fiction only has meaning when everything is permissable. Rape and sexual assault is one such topic — some will say it’s off the table. Which again: it can’t be off the table. That’s a very good way to ensure silence around the subject, isn’t it? Saying you can’t speak about it in fiction is adjacent to saying you can’t speak about it for real, which is already a problem that doesn’t need worsening by made-up rules of fiction.
So, take that subject, and filter it through the lens of Game of Thrones and then Mad Max.”
SPOILERS HERE, TOO
“There’s a lot of whining about “message fiction” these days, which is bizarre because every story is a “message” story or it wouldn’t be a story. Asking for “stories without messages” makes me think this is code for a steady diet of inane reality TV shows that do actually have their own “message,” which is selling and reinforcing capitalism, ignorance, and the status quo. The reality is that every story is political, and the stories that stick with me best are incredibly and transparently so. There’s a reason we remember Animal Farm, and A Canticle for Leibowitz and 1984. There’s a reason I can’t stop thinking about Parable of the Sower. Post-apocalyptic stories have always had a lot to say about where we’re headed if we don’t right our wrongs. They warn us about our reliance on fossil fuels, our abuse of the environment and where it will lead us. They tell us about the inevitable future we are building by relying on war, and what our continued reliance on slavery as an economic system means to our humanity. Post-apocalypse stories simply do not exist without politics.”
“In 2015, the apocalypses have become ground level: uglier, dirtier, more personal. There’s no more sudden, searing flash. Instead, we have the merciless grinds of pandemics, economic collapses, peak oil, peak water. Instead of exploding, of burning out in a perfect instant, we imagine devouring ourselves.”
“The nature of motherhood itself becomes The Only Ones’ overriding theme, and it’s where Dibbell shines the brightest. Inez and Ani settle into a semblance of a normal life, despite the secret that could destroy them both, and their relationship goes through all the standard stages: finding a good school, puberty, teenage rebellion. But it’s underpinned by the tragic truth that only Inez knows. When Ani goes through a typical childhood phase of mimicking everything Inez says, it eerily drives home the point that the two of them share the exact same genetic material, which raises even bigger questions: How much are we products of our parents versus products of our environment? Or is the fault in thinking that we’re products at all?”
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