As I’ve been reading Station Eleven, I find that the book very much reminds me of one of my favorite “end of the world” novels, World War Z. If you haven’t read it, WWZ is presented as an “oral history of the zombie war”, and is set some years after the zombie apocalypse has both come and gone. The book is a collection of interviews with various figures from the zombie war, from Presidents to soldiers to astronauts to housewives turned warriors, as well as everything in between.
What sets both WWZ and Station Eleven apart from other apocalypse stories is their focus on the day-to-day and reality rather than any grand “saving the world” narratives. It’s angle I find fascinating, as it is often overlooked in these kinds of stories. Whenever we see a zombie movie, or read an infection/disease story, we never stop to think about anything beyond what we are shown. Yes it can be exciting to read about scientists scrambling to find some sort of cure, but how often do we stop and wonder about what happens to any astronauts stranded on the International Space Station? Or how governments and societies would undergo monumental shifts in policies? Or even how art and culture would survive and change as the years go on. There are real people hidden in the pages of every apocalypse story, and I think that often goes overlooked.
At its core, Station Eleven isn’t about saving the world or bringing things back to the way they were, there’s no “chosen one” or miracle cure. It’s just a small melancholy story, about a small melancholy group of people, doing the best they can with what they can to keep the dream of the human spirit alive. There’s something so romantically admirable about that. What other stories are out there that we have missed, that have been left out of the grand apocalypse narratives?