I wrote a non-fiction book about the apocalypse.
When I say those words out loud, people usually start slowly inching away from me. But let me explain: EIGTKE, aside from being possibly the most unwieldy acronym in history, is a book that details some of the recent close shaves that nearly ended the human race, the most likely (well, most likely and most dramatic) scenarios threatening us today, and the most pressing potential apocalypses of the near future. There have plenty of books about the mass extinctions of ancient history, far-flung theoretical doomsdays, or current worrying developments that could change life as you know it, but those books present a kind of comfort: They use the buffer of time, and the possibility of your own survival to keep you comfortable while they present their information. I don't want anybody comfortable. I want everybody laughing nervously, shifting in their chairs and casting sidelong glances at the people seated next to them, trying to gauge by their reactions how worried they should truly be.
To accomplish this, my criteria were simple: Everything in this book had to somehow apply to you, the reader, personally: Either it almost killed you, might kill you now, or will kill you in the relatively near future.
This is not about the extinction of the dinosaurs, the ice age, global warming, or the expansion of the sun billions of years from now; this is about the time in the '80s when a Russian colonel came fifteen seconds away from annihilating the entire world. This is about the 2,000-foot high tidal wave that could be coming your way in the next few years. This is about the pack-hunting, flesh-eating robots -- complete with the authority to kill on their own recognizance; no human approval needed -- that the US government has seriously just commissioned for development.
Now, what kind of twisted bastard wants to write a book like this? What's the agenda here? I'll say unequivocally that I am not an obsessed religious fundamentalist, a politically motivated fundraiser, or even a concerned scientist. I'm a comedy writer. This book is, first and foremost, intended to be funny. I fully expect my readers to laugh at the idea of continents burning and bio-engineered super-plagues ravaging society. And hopefully, with any luck, I will not just be selling this book to psychopaths. There is so much genuine fear-mongering in the world. Pundits and politicians scream at you all hours of the day, attempting to whip up some primal panic that they can capitalize on. Because, for reasons that I never quite understood, there seems to be little else in this world more profitable than triggering somebody's fight or flight reflex. If you can just manage to scare the crap out of a good chunk of people, you basically have free reign to fill your wallets with their money, and your bleachers with rabid devotees.
But hopefully, if you learn about these impending disasters in a vaguely humorous setting, they'll have a diminished impact when the dead-eyed news avatars start hyping it in all earnestness in your living room every night. In a perfect world, I would love for this book to be a primer on how to laugh in the face of death... because in the end, all the grim reaper really is, if you look at him in the right light, is a skinny bastard in his bathrobe waving farm-tools around.
Or if I fail in doing that, at the very least I want to get my piece of that sweet primal panic spending; life is cheap, and beer is getting expensive these days.