Born Scott Michael Anderson and raised on a diverse diet of authors, ranging from J.R.R. Tolkien to Graham Greene, this week’s Prophet of Doom, uses his background in the CIA to craft memorably suspenseful tales of a post-apocalyptic conflict. Let’s now take a deeper dive into the work and mind of S.M. Anderson.
Copper: As a child, were there any books or movies that nudged you in the direction of apocalyptic fiction?
S.M: Having been a voracious reader since I can remember, I sort of feel that everything I’ve read or seen in terms of the post-apocalypse or dystopian calls back to the fact that I’m a child of the Cold War and grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when likelihood of nuclear armageddon was much more a part of everyday life than it is now. I actually think it’s more likely now than in the somewhat stable 2 great power system of the time – but I digress. . . In terms of books, “Swan Song” by Robert McCammon was seared into my memory. It’s a fantastic book. “The Earth Abides” – by George Stewart, and “I am Legend” by Richard Mattheson were both books I’ve re-read thirty years later and are every bit as good. I thought the Will Smith film was very well done.
But all that aside – the real reason I wrote “End of Summer” and the Seasons of Man series was that my wife likes dystopian fiction. I wanted to take a whirl at writing something that would interest her. My First series “The Eden Chronicles” was – or I guess is – straight up military/Sci-fi/portal world. She liked it, but it was so far removed from the stuff she generally reads I tried to do something different with “End of Summer.” Book three in that series releases in July 2022.
Copper: Most post-apocalyptic tales feature a danger from humans, from nature or from aliens. In your view, which of these threats are the most likely to bring down civilization?
S.M: Humans or Nature in my opinion. Nature just doesn’t care – it just is. For people that live in the shadow of a volcano, on a fault line or at an asteroid impact site – the stories we can tell are going to wind up being about the people anyway. Nature is just a backdrop, albeit a deadly one in many cases. Humans, even with all the wondrous things we can do – from putting a man on the moon, mapping the human genome or inventing the breakfast burrito – we are still capable and quite willing when pushed to act in ways that destroy the civilization we’ve built. I’ve always said, “good people” are capable of doing ANYTHING when it comes down to the basics of feeding and protecting your loved ones. I think that’s the central theme of my Seasons of Man series.
As for aliens, if they do come here, the simple fact that they are able to get here is going to mean they are so far ahead of us, they might view us as ants – or just well equipped primates. I find the stories of Earthlings fighting off invading space aliens fun to read – and maybe to write. Who knows the lengths I’d go to keep my access to breakfast burritos? But the central conceit of those stories is pure fantasy in my opinion.
Copper: Given your background in Intelligence, is there any particular book or movie that gets things particularly right as far as intelligence is concerned? Or are we all just getting it wrong?
S.M: Most of what is popular in the genre is well written and very entertaining but it bears little resemblance to the real-life intelligence world. The books that have stuck with me as being realistic are anything written by le Carre – “Russia House” is prime example but all his stuff is very good. “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” by Tom Clancy was good as well. Graham Greene wrote some incredible stuff during the Cold War to include “The Quiet American” which is a favorite of mine. Interestingly, in my opinion, some of the best fiction in the genre is tongue in cheek, farcical – Like the “Flashman” series or Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent.” Both are great reads and laugh out loud funny.
Copper: What one song would you hope survives the apocalypse for the sake of helping you maintain your sanity?
S.M: One song for the apocalypse? That’s a cruel question – my tastes are very eclectic depending on my mood. I could see myself going for a sad piece of country music; my dog died, my wife left me, aliens came and took all our Mexican food and beer kinda thing. In the end though, I’d want my classic rock – maybe Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” or some Metallica – “Whiskey in the Jar. I think I’d need a pick me-up.
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