3 of 5 stars.
This tale explores the actions and motivations of people in the face of a slow but sure demise. All of the remaining survivors of the enclave are artists in some capacity providing a perspective skewed toward expression, representation, and performance.
Amid a vague, spreading apocalypse dubbed “the ruin” in which everything on land and the surface of water blackens to ashes and growing swaths of sky and sea blank out to black, Dale and his wife Lois are summoned to a surviving wealthy enclave of artists by Dale’s best friend Stan. Dale, a not-wealthy, mediocre poet, and Lois do not initially fit into the endless debauchery of the end-times in which booze, drugs, and promiscuous sex entertain the masses before and after the midnight suicide of each night’s successive host. Movie directors, poets, novelists, sculptors and painters all take their turn.
Even Stan’s trophy wife thinks nothing of allowing her 9-y.o. daughter to attend this endless stream of macabre performance art. The ethics and morals morph amid ongoing contemplation of the role of art and artists in society as the ruin creeps ever closer . . .
“The End of the End of Everything” appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015 edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Tor.com, April 23, 2014.
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