What if the next crisis to hit the headlines brings an end to the world as we know it? It’s a mind-bending thing to contemplate, but it’s what our own Emily St. John Mandel tackles in Station Eleven, which made it up to the final five of last year’s National Book Awards. On a new episode of The Takeaway, Emily talks about the novel, exploring what’s left when civilization withers away. You could also read our interview with Emily about the book.
“Any reasonably skilled novelist can evoke on the page the texture of memory, drawing the reader into the half-remembered, the blurred edges, the nervous nostalgia, the meandering associations across time and geography. In contrast, flashbacks on screen tend always to be clumsy beasts, announcing their arrival with unwanted fanfare and knocked-over furniture. Why is this?” Kazuo Ishiguro on film, and other novelists’ second-favorite art forms.
What’s the deal with all the fake birds animated into fantasy and sci-fi films these days? According to Brian Thill, these digital flocks “aren’t just there to make the unreal scenes feel a bit more real” but are rather signifiers of “our oldest and most common metaphor for freedom.” What to make of their ability to evade disaster or succumb to it, however, is another story entirely.
Recommended reading: Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy, writes for The Atlantic about the “surreal journey” of publishing three novels in one year. Pair with VanderMeer’s Millions interview with Richard House.