Six Concepts for the End of the World
A navigational aid to the apocalypse.
Steve Beard's Six Concepts for the End of the World mixes scientific research with experimental fiction to produce a manual for the apocalypse. The author examines six disciplines—technology, sociology, geography, psychology, theology and narratology—and for each one creates a fictional scenario that both reflects and energizes the research, all under the guiding light of the philosopher Paul Virilio's theories. This approach allows Beard to create one surprising idea after another: Hollywood viewed as a research and development lab for the end times, a first-person account of a UFO abduction, a blog on the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight 370, a voice-over for an imaginary film by a doomsday cult member.
Highly original in both form and content, the book surprises and delights in its scope. The approach is multidisciplinary and multidirectional, and Beard's exploration ranges over many areas and themes, always bringing distinctive insights to bear. Six Concepts for the End of the World is an expertly guided tour through the author's imagination, and toward the end of the world.
To say that Beard is number one in a field of one is ridiculous: he digs the soil and plants the field anew as you read the book, word by word, idea by idea. His merging of fact and fiction teases new understandings from the most basic of human fears: how will this story come to an end? But in his hands the final days are seen not as a vision of despair, but as the last and greatest adventure of the imagination.
Jeff Noon, author of A Man of Shadows, The Body Library, and Vurt
Paul Virilio once wittily claimed that the apocalypse was a 'concept without a future.' Steve Beard's Six Concepts for the End of the World just as wittily undermines this assertion by using Virilio against himself to generate multiple apocalyptic scenarios. The result is a sharp tragicomic work of absurdity and insight – indeed of absurdity hiding in plain sight.
Ryan Bishop, Professor of Global Arts and Politics, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton