The Day After the End of the World

by Gail Z. Martin

What happens on the day after the world ends?

As in most apocalyptic scenarios, the “end of the world” doesn’t necessarily mean the planet has been blown into smithereens.  More likely, something has radically altered the climate, destroyed the power and communication grids, and sent governments careening into anarchy.  Whatever the cataclysm, it’s likely that large numbers of people are dead, medicine and medical facilities are scarce or non-existent, and social roles have completely broken down.  Transportation is dangerous or not possible.  Survivors are on their own to figure out how to get by.

In my new novel, Ice Forged, my characters face a post-apocalyptic medieval world where war has not only devastated the physical landscape and destroyed the social structure, it has made magic unusable.  That’s bad news for a culture that depended on magic in much the same way our culture relies on technology.

I’m fascinated by the people left alive to clean up the mess.  How do they pick up the pieces and go on? What decisions do they make regarding how to protect themselves, how to find food and shelter, and how to band together for support?  What elements of the culture do they try to preserve, and which do they allow to die?  What becomes of a culture’s art, religion and collected knowledge?

As I’ve worked through these questions in Ice Forged (and the manuscript for its sequel), it’s been an interesting journey to strip civilization down to its most basic essentials and then put myself in the boots of the survivors to determine what gets rebuilt—and what is allowed to remain rubbish.

When you’re free to re-make yourself once the strictures of class, family history and social convention are removed, who would you choose to be?  And if the only thing that matters if your ability to survive and protect your friends, would your past mistakes (or criminal record) still haunt you?

These questions are especially significant for my Ice Forged main characters, who have been exiled to a prison colony in the far north.  When Blaine McFadden, exiled for murder, comes to realize that he might be the only one who can put magic right again, he faces a series of decisions that go to the core of his being.  I’ve enjoyed putting him to that test, and finding out what drives my characters, what matters to them when they’ve lost everything, what keeps them moving forward.

You learn a lot about someone when you go through the apocalypse together.  And you learn even more when you have to decide what kind of civilization you’ll rebuild.  I hope you’ll join me for the adventure!

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 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:


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