Thursday, April 01, 2021

End of the World books, songs and movies and even some happy ones!

A roundup of fun and interesting news... plus music and flicks about that hoary-old topic that keeps fascinating... doomsday!

First something light. Coffee in Space: Politics with David Brin: Here's another podcast series to listen to... I've been giving a lot of these interviews. But if you haven't yet had enough of me ;-)!

Now how about analyzing war scenes from movies and TV shows, starting in a cool video with Admiral James Stavridis (ret.) and Elliot Ackerman (authors of 2034: A Novel of the Next World War) on Wired magazine. They have fun talking about what’s real and what is unlikely and a handful of different fascinating war movies from Doctor Strangelove to The Hunt for Red October.

Aaaaand a list of “50 great novels about apocalypse” includes some great, dire warnings.  Alas, there are far fewer novels that offer examples of hope. But yes, I’m high on the list.

See also: Best End of the World movies: 15 visions of the end times, including The Day After Tomorrow, I Am Legend, Independence Day. 

And...? A while back I opined a semi-random thought about end times. “You all know the song “It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Way fun... but I mean I mean jeez, most of the pop and political figures run-off in the lyrics are completely obscure now! Either R.E.M. or their heirs should do a new version every decade or they should license it! Seriously, it's a public trust by now! And... why the heck not?

(And Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" - again, should be updated at least every 10 years.) And yes, I’m “just sayin.”

Another apo-calypso is Genesis' "Land of Confusion". The delirious Reagan-era video they did with Spitting Image is *definitely* worth updating!

Also see: Apocamon: The Book of Revelation: The Final Judgment, posted online with wonderful illustrations by Patrick Farley!

Not enough doomsday for ya? Want more? Well then Contrary Brin Blogmunity member Yana offers this list:

Henry Burr - Last Night Was The End Of The World

Insane Clown Posse - Intro

DOA - Eve Of Destruction

Nick Cave - Red Right Hand

Smashing Pumpkins - Doomsday Clock

Arthur Brown - Prelude, Nightmare, Fanfare, Poem, Fire

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Hell

Ronald Reagan - We Begin Bombing In Five Minutes

Motorhead - Orgasmatron

Good Rats - Writing The Pages

Time Zone - World Destruction

David Bowie - Five Years

John R Butler - The Hand Of The Almighty

Bad Religion - New Dark Ages

Coven - One Tin Soldier

Sons Of Abraham & Savior - Testament

Bright Eyes - Four Winds

Jethro Tull - Protect and Survive

Pink Floyd - Two Suns In the Sunset

Rush - Prelude from 2112

The Merry Minuet by the Kingston Trio

 "Aftermath" by Don McLean

And Tom Lehrer's "We'll All Go Together When We Go."

Though Daniel Duffy says The best "end of the world song" is "Five Years" by David Bowie."

And AF Rey offers us  Christopher Cross' "I'm Too Old for This" from his 2011 album Doctor Faith. ‘The tune is so-so, but the lyrics caught my attention.’

The willful ignorance across the nation
The screaming yahoos that rage on every station
It makes me crazy and I'm too old for this

Full lyrics here, -- and the music here.

And another member of the Contrary Brin blog community (one of the oldest and best on the web) - Jon S. - says “I vote for Rush's "A Farewell To Kings".

When they turn the pages of history

When these days have passed long ago

Will they read of us with sadness

For the things that we let grow?

We turned our face from the castles in the distance,

Eyes cast down on the path of least resistance

Cities full of hatred, fear, and lies

Withered hopes and cruel, tormented eyes

Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise

Beating down the multitudes and scoffing at the wise...

Here's a listing of 22 Doomsday Songs, many mentioned above - with links to videos.

== Short takes on fims==

We enjoyed Zootopia, animated by Disney.

In the film – “The Space Between Us” -- a woman on a mission to colonize Mars discovers after takeoff that she is pregnant.  And sixteen years later the child comes to Earth. Having watched the preview, I must ask: (1) Do you share with me the impression that this is a direct steal from Heinlein’s “Stranger In A Strange Land”? Milking the melodrama potential and poisoning the well for that classic to be filmed, while offering up none of the interesting contents of RAH’s classic? Your thoughts?

2) Beware. This preview, like so many others nowadays, simply tells the entire story.  All of it. The entire film. Beginning to end, encapsulated. Why do they do stuff like that?

Speaking of Star Wars, here's an interesting comment someone posted.

The Peacemaker – staring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman – deliberately defies the “idiot plot,” by showing institutions, public officials and professionals behaving as sincere and effective adults.

See a beautiful and fun and impressive example of the synthesis between human-created art forms and AI algorithms, all propelled by music.

Finally, yes, a plug for my brand new book of insights... VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood!  Some chapters are from 20 years of articles and postings - ranging from Star Trek vs Wars to King Kong, to Brave New World to Orwell to Ender to Buffy to Avatar... and others are wholly original. And sure, McFarland is an academic press, so it ain't cheap.  All I can tell you is that you'll get more insights and laughs and "huh!" moments per nickel than anywhere else. And I'll make that a bet!


DP said...

Live version of Bowie's "Five Years"

DP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DP said...

Top 10 movies where the world actually ends:

10) Interstellar
9) Seeking a friend for the end of the world
8) Miracle mile
7) These final hours
6) The day after
5) This is the end
4) On the beach
3) Last night
2) Melancholia
1) Dr. Strangelove

Melancholia was the most unsettling.

Acacia H. said...

We Didn't Start the Fire revised? Like this 2020-specific version? :)

Acacia H.

Robert said...

Oddly, your Billy Joel link just takes me to YouTube's home page (

And the interesting comment about Star Wars just shows a blank page with nothing there. The URL is ( so it is obviously a JPEG of some kind, but it won't display…

Note: both links copied-and-pasted from your article by right-clicking on them and selecting Copy Link.)

Robert said...

On the topic of apocalyptic, I'm surprised you didn't mention Harry Turtledove's Alpha and Omega:

What would happen if the ancient prophecy of the End of Days came true? It is certainly the last thing Eric Katz, a secular archaeologist from Los Angeles, expects during what should be a routine dig in Jerusalem. But perhaps higher forces have something else in mind when a sign presaging the rising of the Third Temple is located in America, a dirty bomb is detonated in downtown Tel Aviv, and events conspire to place a team of archaeologists in the tunnels deep under the Temple Mount. There, Eric is witness to a discovery of such monumental proportions that nothing will ever be the same again

I mean, come on. You can't get much more apocalyptic than that! :-)

Jon S. said...

Another nuclear-war song:

"Christmas At Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic

Robert said...

For music, there's always these:

Or, if you want a whimper rather than a bang:

Tony Fisk said...

I've been suggesting an update to the "Age of Confusion" video since 2016.

Sting's "Russians" should be on the list (although it's more a meditation on the possibility.)

Apocalypses are, of course, a favourite theme of computer games.

"Everybody's Gone to the Rapture" isn't so much a game as a stroll around a gorgeously rendered English village and its surrounding countryside* while you piece together what caused everyone to vanish.** How such an unsettling scenario can result in such an ultimately boring game is a wonder.

A game with a similar aim (what happened?), but with a great story, and a lot more action, is "Horizon: Zero Dawn" (I mean, cybernetic dinosaurs? C'mon!)

Not so much end of the world as end of the community, "We Happy Few" is a case of "THX1138" meets "The Prisoner" meets "A Clockwork Orange" meets "In the Night Garden".*** The result is a bizarre tale of a very alternate Sixties, told with some very black humour.

*That is all you get to do, though. Critics have unkindly referred to Rapture as a 'walking simulator'.
** Thanos was unavailable for comment; being on a walking holiday.
*** I've always thought "In the Night Garden" to be a toddler form of "The Prisoner" anyway. It's the architecture, I think. That, and the Ninky-nonk. (Derek Jacobi's narration doesn't help dispel the impression ;-)

DP said...

For those who like their end of the world with a side order of existential despair:

"I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream"

"The Road"

"The Call of Cthulhu"

Der Oger said...

As for songs, I'd propose...
"I don't want to set the world on fire" by the Ink Spots;
and "Where have all the Flowers Gone" by Marlene Dietrich.

As for video games, no list would be complete without mentioning the Wasteland and Fallout Series. Honorable Mentions: The Last Of Us, Dying Light, Metro and Far Cry 5 New Dawn. There are also plenty of pen & paper rpg's dealing with the subject, such as Gamma World, The Morrow Project, and Degenesis. (What all games seem to have in common is to decide which band of crazed survivor cults you want to join.)

For Television, I'd recommend La Zona, a short Spanish series about a cop who tries to solve a murder mystery in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster.

DP said...

The best and most likely ecological end of the world, "The Sheep Look Up" by John Brunner:


NOT Drinking Water


Now Wash Your Hands
(Penalty for noncompliance $50)

Use product once only—maximum 1 hour


“Rumors that the sun is out at Santa Ynez are without foundation,” the radio said.

Here at home Senator Richard Howell (Rep., Col.) today launched a fierce attack on the quote chlorophyll addicts unquote who, he claims, are hamstringing American business, already staggering under the load of high unemployment and recession, by insisting that our manufacturers comply with regulations ignored by foreign competition. In Southern Italy rioting continues in many small towns formerly dependent on fishing. Meantime, dust storms in the Camargue . . .

. . . that the Army is using defoliants in Honduras to create fire-free zones. This charge has been strongly denied by the Pentagon. Asked to comment just prior to leaving for Hawaii, where he will convalesce for the next two or three weeks, Prexy said, quote, Well, if you can’t see them you can’t shoot them. End quote. Support has been growing for a bill which Senator Richard Howell will introduce at the earliest opportunity, forbidding the issue of a passport to any male between sixteen and sixty not in possession of a valid discharge certificate or medical exemption. Welcoming the proposal, a Pentagon spokesman today admitted that of the last class called for the draft more than one in three failed to report. Your steaks are going to cost you more. This warning was today issued by the Department of Agriculture. The price of animal fodder has quote taken off like a rocket unquote, following the mysterious . . .

The book is so eerily accurate it even has an idiot president who is a cross between Trump and W. The only thing missing is global warming, which wasn't on anyone's radar back in the 60s. HBO needs to redo this as an update mini-series.

This book and "Dune" (I was fascinated by the idea of transforming a wasteland planet into a paradise) inspired me to enter an environmental career.

Brunner also gave us the most accurate SF book ever "Stand on Zanzibar":,accurate%20predictions%20about%20the%20future.&text=Let%20me%20list%20some%20of,society%20in%20Stand%20on%20Zanzibar.

DP said...

The best recent addition to the end of the world sweepstakes is HBO's "Years and Years"

I wish HBO would do "Sheep Look Up".

Larry Hart said...

Lindsey Graham means this as a bad thing, but what he's threatening sounds like heaven to me:

"If H.R. 1 becomes law, ballot harvesting will be the law of the land. States will be run by the most liberal people in Washington. There'll be federally funded elections. Redistricting will be done by liberal Democrats. The Federal Election Commission will be partisan. If you think that's a good deal for corporate America and hard- working Americans, then you're crazy and you need to be fired. I think they all need to be asked tomorrow: Do you support H.R. 1, that's now pending before the Senate? Because if you do as a corporate CEO, you're destroying your shareholders' ability to thrive and survive."

matthew said...

The news that a Colony High sequel is on the way is very good news indeed.

Larry Hart said...

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began with the destruction of the earth. Probably not what we're looking for here, though.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

and "Where have all the Flowers Gone" by Marlene Dietrich.

Wow, that takes me back to my childhood.:)

On a similar note, and not as well known, Roger Whittaker's "Why?":

And will the grass be gone from underneath the sky?
Will the golden flower wither soon and die?
Will the fire burn out the land?
Will the sea fill up with sand?
Will the last word ever spoken be, "Why?"

* * *

Oh, and not quite "End of the world", but end of New York City, Billy Joel's "Miami 2017" also known as "I've Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway" is also a classic.

David Brin said...

Daniel thanks for that trip down memory lane with THE SHEEP LOOK UP. A fantastic book, almost as much so as SOZ and the SHOCKWAVE RIDER, during Brunner's "mirabilis" decade.

scidata said...

Of course there is the 'end of everything' genre. That's where the entire universe winks out of existence, is swapped out for another, or the protagonist/antagonist get transported back and forth. There's the TOS episode "The Alternative Factor" where Robert Brown was a last-minute fill-in for John Drew Barrymore (yes, her dad). There's Robert Sawyer's contribution to the "Charlie Jade" series. An oscillating Big Bang is the premise of Asimov's "The Last Question".

Pappenheimer said...

At least in "Childhood's End" some form of humanity survived, as part of an alien collective - Earth itself? Not so much.

Larry Hart said...


Of course there is the 'end of everything' genre. That's where the entire universe winks out of existence, is swapped out for another, or the protagonist/antagonist get transported back and forth.

The short story "The Nine Billion Names of God" comes to mind there.

Strictly speaking, HG Wells's novel (not the movie) The Time Machine is an end of the world thing. Not in the usual way, though. The book's sci-fi element doesn't cause the world to end prematurely. Rather, the time traveler proceeds on to the time at which the world does in fact end. He gets to watch.

We're so conditioned by later time travel stories--including the movies based on that novel--to think of time travel as bi-directional, but in the novel, the time traveler only moved in the forward direction. Which I find somewhat more plausible than travel backwards in time.

David Brin said...

onward to my take on John Boehner's masterpiece of excuse-making.



Lisa Hamilton said...

Tunes for the Apocalypse is an adoring, distinctive, carefully felt novel about men, ladies, and a Jo I didn't see this when perusing yet since their folks are . got me interest and I expected a colossal terrifying dramatization like the film "Infection". A cop, Elliot, opens the book at the site of the one of the initially known,