Sleeps With Monsters: Uplifting Post-apocalypses from Carrie Vaughn

The trend in post-apocalyptic fiction is usually for brutality and dog-eat-dog, for cruelty and nihilism. Rarely do you find quiet, practical, damn near domestic stories about life in the communities that have grown up in the aftermath of apocalypse, ones that have rebuilt themselves along sustainable lines, and maintained semi-decent medicine and the ability to manufacture contraceptives. Communities with social consciences and systems in place to keep them functional.

Carrie Vaughn’s Bannerless (2017, winner of the Philip K. Dick Award) and The Wild Dead (2018) are set in the towns of the Coast Road, communities that share an ethos and a style of co-operative government along the coast of what used to be California. People in Coast Road communities are organised into households, and households earn the right to bear and raise children by proving they can take care of them. Careful management of quotas of farming and production ensures ...