Review: “Chislehurst Messiah” by Lauren Beukes

1 of 5 stars.

“The End has come” but this story does not seem sure how or why that is. We know the seas turn to blood, birds fall dead from the sky, a “plague of flying ants” hits, and most people over the age of 20 have died quickly of some agonizing hemorrhagic disease. From this I take away that this is a fantasy rather than a sci-fi apocalypse, which is fine.

The protagonist, and only character we really get to see, stands for nothing and struck me as not only unlikable and unsympathetic, but also unrealistic. We follow this 30-something privileged snob as he barricades himself into his condo only leaving to raid nearby condos as he waits for the rioting and urban warfare outside to settle down. He has nothing but snarky thoughts for the people whose corpses litter his protected community. Though he knew these people in life, he thinks nothing of them or anyone else.

What he does care about is brand names that carry a little cache. Despite the end of society. He’s that shallow. Probably because of his membership in his elitist class. We get it. We are presented with nothing more than a caricature of a rich man who thinks everyone else who has survived is a social parasite. Unfortunately, this makes the ending all too predictable taking away the last hope that this story has something more to say.

This story is included in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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