Monday, June 07, 2021

"Bullet Points" - Wastelands: The New Apocalypse (Story 1)


This is the first in what may become a series of “Apocalypse Monday” posts featuring short stories from Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, each of which are set during or after an apocalyptic event. I’ve been a fan of, and have read, stories like these all my life, and I still love them as much as I did when I was a boy.  I’m also a huge fan of short stories, generally,  because short story anthologies allow me to sample and learn about so many writers I would otherwise never experience. So, this may quite possibly turn into the first 34-week, 34-part, book review I’ve ever written, one in which I feature every short story in the collection. 


Elizabeth Bear’s “Bullet Point,” the lead-off story in Wastelands, is told from the point of view of a young woman who believes she may be the last person on Earth…or at the very least, the last person in Las Vegas. The funny thing is that there are no dead, decaying bodies anywhere to be found, only empty homes, stranded automobiles, and all those empty casino/hotels the city is known for. If there was indeed a Rapture of some sort, our narrator seems to be the only one in town who didn’t make the cut. 


And then one day as she’s riding down the Strip on her bicycle, Isabella spots a guy on the street. She knows better than to get too close to him, but over time he wins her trust and convinces Isabella that he represents no threat to her safety. The two of them start living together even though Isabella senses that he needs her company more than she needs his — and that’s when his cracks begin to show.


So now, the question for you, the reader, to think about is this one: what would you do if the only other person left on Earth (as far as you know, anyway) is your total opposite in every core belief you hold about yourself, the ones that makes you, you? How much could you, would you, or should you tolerate from someone you can’t stand being around even if they may be the only other person left on the entire planet? 


Bottom Line: “Bullet Points” is an amusing tale about the end of the world in which the “last woman” on Earth and the “last man” on Earth turn out to be a bad match — and what happens next. The seventeen-page story was published for the first time in 2019’s Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, a collection of thirty-four short stories with apocalyptic themes written between 2013 and 2019. 



Elizabeth Bear, author of some thirty novels and over one hundred short stories is a Massachusetts-based writer who can claim the prestigious Hugo award among the awards she’s won.  

9 comments:

  1. I don't read a lot of short stories, but ones around an apocalyptic theme? I'd definitely read all of these. :D

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    1. I'm a big admirer of short story writers because I believe that they may just be more difficult to write than novellas and novels. Short story writers have to develop characters and make their impression in just a few pages...that must take a lot of discipline, and not all writers can do it. Stephen King, for instance, is, in my opinion, one of those writers whose work, the shorter it is, the better it is. I find his novels bloated and repetitive, but I enjoy his short stories and novellas a lot...especially his novellas.

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    2. I think good short stories are super hard to write! And I prefer King's novellas to his super long books, too. :) Though I did like The Stand.

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  2. I do read post apocalyptic novels and that short story has an intriguing theme.

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    1. It does, doesn't it? It's such an obvious theme for this kind of story that I'm surprised I haven't run into it before. That's probably what makes the story so much fun...one of those "why didn't I think of that" moments.

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  3. Uh oh! Last woman, last man, bad match? I'm really curious.

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    1. I love the simpleness of this premise and how it leaves the writer with so many ways to go with the story. I really am surprised I haven't run into this basic plot before.

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  4. Ooooh, this one looks awesome! I'm not much for short stories, but there are several authors in this anthology that I like. I'll definitely be checking it out.

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    1. I've read a couple of other stories in the collection now, and I like this one best of the three. Nothing wrong with the other two, but they take a more conventional approach. This one made me laugh, something that's pretty rare in this genre.

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