Critical Mass is my go at a post-apocalyptic story. I’ve always kind of liked that genre – that is until it got taken over by zombies and other forms of the undead. The earliest and probably still best of the P-A genre has to be Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz”. I re-read this book, first published in the 1950’s, just before starting Critical Mass and it influenced me greatly. I decided to make an homage to one of the all-time great SciFi books. See farther down for all the references.
Critical Mass is about a commune on a river island in Nebraska that survived a horrible plague. It’s become a refuge of information in a world that has fallen into a new dark age. It’s charismatic founder does his best to hold onto the scientific knowledge he so reveres, but reality knocks at the door with greater and more disturbing regularity, creating a crisis in the commune that is the central plotline. This story is completely outside the world of many of my stories. There aren’t any aliens, and nobody comes from another planet to save the commune members. They’re on their own, and have to make very hard choices to ensure their survival.
Themes of the practical verses the ideal, and the proper use of available technology drive the story. The central human conflict is the same as the conflict between the two choices the commune has for protecting itself.
The link to this story is here
Here are all the references to “Leibowitz” in Critical Mass
1. The concept of the Simplification, here turned into a religion.
2. “Leibowitz” author Walter Miller’s name is used for the military commander in the story.
3. The first section of “Leibowitz” takes place in an abbey and focuses on a monk, Francis Gerard. I use that name for one of my main characters.
4. The leader of the abbey in “Leibowitz” is Brother Arkos. In Critical Mass I use that name for Dr. Arkos, the charismatic founder of the commune.
Thanks to Bewildering Stories for giving me a voice by publishing my work!