There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.
In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”