by Gail Z. Martin
My newest novel, Ice Forged, takes place in a post-apocalyptic medieval world. As the book cover proclaims, “Their world is ending: the adventure is just beginning.” With the Mayan Apocalypse so recently in memory as one of those “fake” end of the world scenarios, what does it take to survive when the world devolves into chaos?
Rule #1: It helps to be far away when the doomsday strike hits. My characters begin the book in exile in an arctic prison colony. Their colony is affected by the catastrophic loss of magic, but because of the colony’s primitive conditions, the effect of the catastrophe is lessened. In their case, exile to the end of the world ended up being “lucky”.
Rule #2: Make sure you know how to do important things without magic. In Ice Forged, people have gotten dependent on using small magic as a short cut for everything from healing sickness to making sure crops weren’t eaten by pests to holding stone fences together. When the magic fails, everything it was holding together fails, too. People who only know how to do things with the help of magic are stuck. Their “power grid” has gone down, and they don’t have back-up.
Rule #3: Have people who will watch your back. Our myth of the totally independent person is only possible because of the largely invisible, massive infrastructure that enables us to pretend we’re doing everything ourselves. When that infrastructure fails, you find out very quickly that the people who survive do so as a team. Cut-throat individualism only works on reality TV—had “Survivor” been real, the ones who made it would have been the ones who banded together. In Ice Forged, friendships and alliances make a life-or-death difference.
Rule #4: Challenge the defeatists. Just because civilization as you know it has been shattered doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It might be possible to reverse or at least limit the damage, unless you sink into depression and drink all the remaining brandy. Even a slim chance can give survivors the will to transcend the devastation. In Ice Forged, the idea that it might be possible to restore the magic takes my characters from their icy (but relatively safe) prison home back to a kingdom that exiled them, against all odds.
Rule #5: Accept that the end of the world changes people. Some lie down and die. Some go mad. Others find a new purpose for life, and courage they never knew they had. In Ice Forged, the exiles find out what they’re made of—and what they’ll risk—to start over.
There you have it: my rules for surviving the end of the world. Feel free to print out this list and tape it to the inside of your pantry door, so that you have it handy for the next doomsday prediction. Then gather your friends in a remote location, and get ready to hit the restart button.
Gail Z. Martin’s newest book, Ice Forged: Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), launched in January 2013. Gail is also the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books). For more about Gail’s books and short stories, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com. Be sure to “like” Gail’s Winter Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin, and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads.
Read an excerpt from Ice Forged here: http://a.pgtb.me/JvGzTt