There Is No More Normal Anymore.

Samuel Carlton
23 min readFeb 9, 2021

Examining The Last Four Years As A Catalyst For An Unknown Future.

A Sound of Thunder.

“It fell to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes, and then big dominoes, and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time. Eckel’s mind whirled. It couldn’t change things. Killing one butterfly couldn’t be that important! Could it?” — Ray Bradbury, A Sound of Thunder.

As the final hours of November 8th, 2016 drew to a close and the first hours of the November 9th, 2016 dawned with anathema, an invisible echo rippled across time and space. If the United States citizens stood dumbstruck — or elated — at a vicious election-cycle’s final curtain call, they were even more divided to witness an ending that few expected. Instead of the election’s predicted outcome where the ‘chosen candidate’ would inevitably beat the ‘boorish outsider’ and carry the torch held by the outgoing Commander-In-Chief, the ‘outsider’ rode a wave of populist sentiment that had simmered in an economic and cultural pressure-cooker for the past several decades.

Despite winning the popular vote, the ‘outsider’ floated atop the electoral-college-safety-net; the same safety net that prevented George W. Bush’s first term from fizzling out almost twelve years prior. In the coming days, many political analysts would use terms like ‘economic anxiety,outdated polling models or even ‘collusion with Russia’ to try and explain the unexplainable. (Later studies would find that racial resentment ended up playing a larger part in the grand scheme of things).

On one side was a candidate some post-election commentators described as ‘flawed’ but possessed political experience both as a Senator and a Secretary of State. On the other side was a candidate who had spat in the face of every preconceived notion as to what a presidential candidate ‘should be’ or ‘should aspire to be’.

Possession the experience in running a company — but holding no political office — the ‘outsider’ treated the presidential debates, the interviews on television, and political rallies as if it were exactly that — television. With snappy one-liners, jokes, and stories fit to make the patricians foam at the mouth and the plebeians shriek with glee, what started out as a novelty-campaign — or even a punchline — soon turned into an unstoppable winter-storm. No ordinary storm, it sought to break free from the mortal coils of Earth’s limited season and traverse to the realm which knew no winter.

Not only would this storm bring a winter cold enough to turn the Lake of Fire into a Lake of Ice, a massive igloo-hotel could begin construction on the shoreline. All the demons and tortured souls in attendance would blink in confusion. Much like the concerned citizens of the United States — and of Earth — not even they would be able explain what happened.

If the political elites in Washington couldn’t believe the moment when the ‘Chosen One’ called the ‘Outsider’ to concede the election, they were not alone. Although some had predicted an upset based on their own cultural analytics, nobody would predicted just how soundly the electoral college would sweep her campaign under the rug. Middle America had dealt a crushing blow to the Coastal Elites not just in the Executive Branch but the Legislative as well. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate gained a Republican Majority. A Supreme Court justice was also set to be appointed once the transition of power took place.

But this time, it felt different.

It felt different not just due to the ‘Outsider’s frequent tweetstorms, penance to attack anyone and everyone for perceived slights, crude comments about women, policy-positions that were deemed financially irresponsible, conceptually ridiculous, or even impossible, knack for dunking on people and institutions that no ‘true-presidential-candidate’ would ever consider doing, praise for authoritarian leaders and policies and a policy platform that seem to change by whatever mood the outsider was currently in; it felt different because of how this ‘outsider’s’ self-inflicted tongue-torpedoes would sink any other political candidate when the rules were applied.

It felt different — primarily — because this ‘outsider’s’ campaign was launching these torpedoes and only seemed to get stronger as the press attempted to spin and redirect them back to the hull. As the torpedo impacts piled up, the submarine stood firm in the waters; it was as if crafted by a political-element as yet-undiscovered.

The submarine had destroyed all other pieces on the board and would now attempt to destroy the ‘chosen’ battleship. With this being the same ‘outsider’ submarine that had once claimed that ‘what was the good of having nuclear weapons if we didn’t use them?’ the battleship seemed poised to eek out a narrow victory.

That victory didn’t come.

On the morning of November 9th 2016, the hopes and dreams of all United States citizens turned into an emotional-revolving-door. As they slept in, prepared for school, showered for work, got their coffee, or made breakfast, the collective consciousness ran emotional roulette tables: Joy. Happiness. Laughter. Pride. Resentment. Fear. Anger. Sadness. Despair. Hope.

For some, the sun shined a little brighter as they began their morning commute. For others, the clouds hovered a little darker as they tried to put the Overton Window back together again. This was an America headed under a guise of leadership they hadn’t prepared for; regardless if they thought the guise was for good or for ill.

Regardless of who was where in the universe on that fateful day, the cogs of the universe buckled down in the day-to-day-machinations of political theater. The nation’s consciousness as to what was possible in the United States of America was headed for a carousel of discovery. Some characterized the election as a band-aid being ripped off a wound that only its most vulnerable citizens could experience.

Now everyone could see.

Perhaps ‘normal’ had only been an idea.

Perhaps ‘normal’ was crafted as a myth to let those in power stay in power and watch the rest of the nation struggle for scraps — or even a shot at the ‘American Dream’.

Above all else, one thing remained certain:

There is no more normal anymore.

The Sirens of Titan.

“There is room enough for an awful lot of people to be right about things and still not agree.” — Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan.

When the ‘Outsider’s’ cold and rainy inauguration day arrived in early 2017, the symbolism felt on the nose. Mother nature either wept tears of joy or sadness depending on how you interpreted the drizzle pouring from Washington D.C.’s overcast sky. During the inauguration pomp, circumstance, and speech detailing ‘American Carnage’, the nation watched from their television sets as the Washington insiders watched from their box-seats.

Barack and Michelle Obama looked prepared for the moment if not disappointed in the outcome. Bill and Hillary Clinton looked defeated yet respectful of the time-honored-transition of power transition. George W. Bush fumbled with trying to put on his rain poncho until giving up and putting it on like a towel; his wife Laura taking little notice — or choosing not to notice — and instead focusing on the bizarre scene in front of them.:

A famous real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-television-star was set to be in charge of the most powerful nation on Earth.

Despite being loathed by every single corporate-media-outlet in the country — save for Fox News who changed their tune when his primary victory appeared inevitable — he had conquered the unconquerable. He’d spat in the face of every preconceived notion of how a ‘United States President’ ‘should behave’ or convey their policy goals. As a candidate with no political experience — or filter — he was considered the ultimate ‘Outsider.’

A few pundits pointed out that Andrew Jackson was the last President to cultivate a populist persona on the same scale. Others argued this ‘Outsider’ drew better comparison to a Roosevelt replacing any ‘speak-soft-big-stick’ diplomacy with a cannon that always managed to find ammunition. In the 21st Century, exceptionally-rude or aggressive tweets from a candidate was thought to be considered a death knell for those who aspired to public office. To have a candidate openly campaign on how violent immigrants were hellbent on killing American citizens mirrored some uncomfortable historical — and contemporary — parallels.

If the ‘Outsider’ had managed to get elected while campaigning on these ideas, then what did this say about America’s values? How could a nation elect a black president only eight years prior then elect a President who openly campaigned on connecting fear towards certain racial and religious minorities? How could a nation legalize same-sex-marriage at the federal-level and then elect a vice-president who had opposed any kind of LGBTQ-solvent-policy for his entire career in his home state?

For the uninformed citizen, none of it made sense; it made the United States of America appear schizophrenic. It was as if there were two different groups of people who had wildly different ideas on how America should function not only at the fiscal level but at the cultural level as well. Caught between these two groups was a third group who didn’t necessarily believe in everything a particular party stood for but was at least willing to let their own principles — fiscal, social, religious, or cultural — guide them towards pushing a button at the voting booth.

Maybe their own interests led them to not show up at the voting booth at all.

Regardless of whatever reason they had three months prior— regardless if they even cared about the election or not — the deed was done. The die was cast and the rest of the world looked on in what many outlets described as shock or grudging acceptance. Other world-leaders offered congratulations or chose to offer a neutral tone that focused on economic outlooks.

As inauguration day passed and the days of the ‘Outsider’s administration slowly crept upon a nation waiting for a verdict on how to feel, some words of wisdom emerged from the shattered plains of normalcy. A few tenants sailing about in a turbulent sea of political analysis offered a message of hope for those who worried:

Let’s just wait and see. Perhaps it won’t be as crazy as everyone thinks. Congress and the Supreme Court will keep him in check. His cabinet will run like a regular Republican cabinet and we won’t know the difference.

After all, this is the United States of America.

Whatever parallels to autocracy that hysterics are shrieking can’t happen here …right…

In fact, what could happen here?

…what’s even the worst that could happen?

A Fire Upon The Deep.

“Sometimes terror and pain are not the best levers; deception, when it works, is the most elegant and least expensive manipulation of all.” — Vernon Vinge, A Fire Upon The Deep.

Within the first 100 days of his presidency, Donald Trump signed 24 executive orders — the most made by any sitting president since the days of World War II. With the courts struggling to uphold — or challenge — certain orders like the ones pertaining to placing immigration from certain Muslim-faith-majority-nations on hold, the small protests at the nation’s biggest airports were nothing compared to the mass-marches the day after the inauguration. Dubbed the 2017 Women’s March, it wasn’t just a referendum against the verbiage the President had used to describe certain women during his campaign; it was a referendum against the very idea of his presidency.

Even if close to half the nation approved of his job performance thus far the other half was mad enough to take to the streets. Celebrities and politicians made impassioned speeches. People waved signs. Rabbles were roused. This cat-and-mouse game between the Trump administration setting the policy-parameters for the next four years and various groups of people voicing their disapproval came to define 2017.

The boiling point arrived in August.

When state governments began to consider the removal of certain Confederate monuments after the shooting in Charlestown, South Carolina the farthest reaches of the right aisle decided to organize a rally to show their agitation. The skirmishes by pro-monument and anti-monument protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in multiple injuries and the death of a young woman by the name of Heather Heyer. After claiming there were ‘very fine people…on both sides,” (which irked journalists and onlookers regardless of assigned context) the President finally gave a press conference where he condemned their ideology. The outrage — not only from the left but even from some who identified as traditional conservatives — continued to flourish into 2018.

Between the family-separation-policy at the border, the disbandment and reorganization of the pandemic team that Obama had assembled in 2015, general chaos and finger-pointing in regards to the ongoing Russian-interference-investigation and other multitudes of subjects to write about, any façade of lingering normalcy started to crumble. If a family separation policy could pretend to masquerade as normal in a country that was founded by immigrants desiring religious freedom (and freedom from the British Empire’s taxation policies but that’s a whole new article) then how could it profess to be a nation that embodied “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

While some argued that crossing the border illegally was a crime and criminals deserve their punishments, others pointed out that not all families affected were trying to illegally cross. Others still pointed to the punishment as uncomfortably close to some of the descriptions of genocide found in the Geneva Convention. While the policy was reversed and condemned elsewhere, a persistent thought remained…

…could this become the new normal?

Snow Crash.

“Most countries are static, all they need to do is keep having babies. But America’s like this big, old, clanking, smoking machine that just lumbers across the landscape, scooping up and eating everything in sight.” — Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash.

To try and list every notable peculiarity or irregularity of Donald Trump’s would risk exhausting the archives from the Library of Babel if it was ever built.

Alas, the real meat of this article lies not in the construction of an architectural/philosophical conundrum but in the lack of construction of an architectural present. I.E. What exactly led to up all of this open posturing and where exactly was all of this posturing going?

You do not have to look much farther than the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, any of the eugenics experiments conducted in North Carolina, the Trail of Tears, the internment camps used to hold Japanese Citizens after the Pear Harbor bombing, or the various foreign-elections our government has dipped its toes into — mostly in the name of stopping certain ideologies from gaining a foothold in neighboring countries — to see a history defined by moral failings of all stars and stripes. What separated this administration from others is how the ugliness danced in full display instead of hiding behind a veneer of ‘American Ideals’ or ‘goodwill towards men.’

2019 would be defined by the Democratic Primary allowing a host of candidates to take their shot at dethroning the return-to-status-quo-frontrunner, Joe Biden. After a tumultuous string of debates throughout the Summer and Fall — and a seesawing of poll numbers — it appeared the race would come down to former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

As the year closed, rumblings on news outlets and social media told of a strange new virus popping up in Wuhan, China. Footage in December depicted patients crowding hospital lobbies — many of them struggling to breathe. On December 30th, a conversation between doctors in the Wuhan area was leaked online. They involved the words: “Wash your hands! Facemasks! Gloves!”

How prescient indeed…

The Mote in God’s Eye.

“Nitwit ideas are for emergencies. You use them when you’ve got nothing else to try. If they work, they go in the Book. Otherwise, you follow the Book, which is largely a collection of nitwit ideas that worked.” — Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye.

The first week of January was marked by the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the threat of war between the United States and Iran. After Iran responded with a missile-assault on United States military bases located in Iraq, the accidental shooting of an innocent passenger jet — Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 — seemed to temporarily freeze the boiling point. Any eyes looking towards war began to return their attention to either the Democratic Primary or the escalating virus crisis in China.

Then came the Wuhan lockdown.

In an unprecedented measure that sent shockwaves around the geopolitical sphere, other nations watched in awe as China issued a lockdown on January 23rd for the city of Wuhan and the surrounding areas. Teams of cleaners marched through the empty streets and sprayed disinfectant wherever possible. Leaked videos and text messages showed more doctors and people dying after infection. If the SARS pandemic in 2003 had taken a leisurely walk, then SARS-COVID-2 (soon to be labeled Covid-19) was sprinting towards an unprecedented moment in modern history.

By February, even if people around the United States weren’t paying attention to the growing crisis in China or the wildfires ravaging Australia there was still enough action during the tail end of the Democratic Primary to wean their attention away. As the first Coronavirus cases in the United States began to crop up in Seattle and other areas, the President of the United States offered his reassurance in late February:

“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens, nobody really knows.”

For a brief time, it looked like Bernie Sanders’ candidacy was a snowball that couldn’t be stopped after he notched wins in Iowa (popular), New Hampshire (electoral), and Nevada (electoral). When Senator Jim Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden before the South Carolina Primary — and the other moderates dropped out to endorse him as well— it sealed a Super Tuesday avalanche that swung the nomination in favor of the former Vice President.

Biden’s Super Tuesday win stole the spotlight for only a second; nationwide lockdowns and stay-at-home-orders would soon commence. On March 13th, the President finally called a state of emergency for COVID-19. State governors began to issue stay-and-home-orders. Some issued mask mandates. Others did not.

What followed was a panic of stock — both of toilet paper and the market.

As non-essential businesses, restaurants, places of worship, schools, universities, and other public venues closed, the market entered a freefall not seen since the crash of 1987. The largest point-drop in the market’s history arrived with the second-largest percentage drop in the market’s history (in terms of share). A mass rush at grocery stores across America saw toiletries, cleaning products, and food all leave the shelves almost as quick as they arrived.

It was as if the science-fiction worlds witnessed in films and books had come roost after laying their ideas-inside-of-eggs decades ago.

Panic, fear, terror, confusion, and the eventual politicization of masks all became talking points over the next two months. It’s been estimated that anywhere 20 million to 40 million people faced unemployment as related to the shutdown. To make matters worse, videos pouring in from Italy and news stories pouring in from Iran started to show a virus that was affecting everyone; extra danger skewed towards older populations and those with co-morbidities. The halls of patients on ventilators started to haunt those who watched from the outside.

Swan Song.

“Josh was beginning to believe the whole thing was like professional wrestling: the superpowers put on their masks and stomped around, roaring threats and swinging wildly at each other, but it was a game of macho, strutting bluff.” — Robert McCamon, Swan Song.

Aside from a halt on student loan payments and a moratorium on evictions — in certain circumstances — Congress managed to pass a $1,200 stimulus check for each American worker. Ignoring the fact that other countries had provided monthly wages and extra stimulus options for those most affected by the virus the stimulus check was packaged with what some saw as one of the largest transfers of wealth upward in the history of the country.

Those who remained unemployed definitely had monthly bills well above $1200. Even if the check was welcome it most certainly wasn’t enough; in light of the economic devastation — and the rising amount of deaths — it almost felt like a slap in the face. Even as the months went by and Congress tried to negotiate on another deal, people watched a government stuffed with ineptitude — and even apathy — try to pass another round of checks to its working citizens.

Decades of political ideologies ranging from ‘government being the economic solution’ to ‘government being the economic problem’ came to a head during a health, economic, and social crisis not seen since the 1917–1918 influenza pandemic a little over a century ago. The ravages of that pandemic were mostly a result of having come before modern medicine and machines revolutionized the human race’s understanding of disease. In spite of at least understanding that masks, social distancing, and public closures would stop the spread, our medicinal abilities to fight the virus were diminished.

As the governments in other first-world countries provided more economic relief over several months to its most-affected citizenswho also had the benefit of knowing an extended stay in the hospital wouldn’t bankrupt them — made the domestic crisis even more embarrassing. For almost three months, the rise in coronavirus cases, deaths, applications for unemployment (which got bottlenecked due to the system unable to meet demand) the festering hurt, confusion, anger, and fear that many Americans were experiencing was ready to boil over the surface.

All it needed was a spark to start the fire…

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

“To see an almost certain horrible death — you know how crowds all sit at the edge of their seats, praying subconsciously for a spectacular accident — and then to be whisked away from it so suddenly — brought to the edge of tragedy, and then to have their better natures win out, showing them how much nicer they always knew they were — that was a supreme thrill.” — Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

By the time the George Floyd Protests had fallen down from their zenith and the month of June slow-rolled into a sweltering July and August, at least 14,000 people had been arrested and over a billion dollars in property damage had been lost. Between protesters skirmishing with police officers, citywide curfews banning people from evening activities, and another national conversation around police brutality and disproportionate responses against black victims, it was another firestorm in a long line of protest-riots caused by police actions.

What had been seen in Los Angeles after Rodney King, Ferguson after Michael Brown, Baltimore after Freddie Grey, or even other places in decades prior (such as the riots which permeated 1968) was now exacerbated by a national crisis that was hitting America’s black communities the hardest. People around the world watched the largest protest-marches in United States history unfold with anger, calls-for-action, mass-destruction, and looting.

Some of the violence and looting was related to the protests.

Some was simply done as an opportunity to create chaos; to get revenge on an establishment that had turned a blind eye to the suffering of Black Americans even decades after the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement.

Some was done for their own selfish gain.

What followed was the largest protest-gone-haywire in United States history — a protest spurned by economic and social boiling points. Images of police officers and protestors clashing soon had debates spiraling from newsroom-media to social-media. Black Lives Matter was met with Blue Lives Matter and the pandemic coverage soon moved into a whirlwind of race-relation-coverage. But to some, it was one and the same: the very reasons that the United States had failed to address the poor relations between police officers and African-American communities were the same reasons it had failed to properly address the pandemic.

America’s failure to properly account for the sins of its past may as well go hand in hand with its refusal to offer health care for it’s citizens. If one glances into history, it makes sense — a nation that threw a fit over taxes on consumable goods would likely throw a fit over taxes on healthcare. But for a nation that has still long pretended that casual racism — and racially-motivated-hate-crimes — are isolated occurrences after the Civil Rights Movement is to pretend that the United States is also not willing to bankrupt its own citizens for breaking a leg — or catching a disease — at an inopportune time.

The amount of posturing by government officials on topics like healthcare, race-relations, or income inequality — and the indifference from those in power to do anything meaningful about it — may as well be culturally linked. The Coronavirus pandemic has also acted as a litmus test for how a country’s medical infrastructure can hold against unexpected agents. The staggering military and economic might of the United States has struggled in the face of a for-profit-healthcare system and an economy-driven culture that places the value of human life as directly correlated with income-tax-brackets

It is foolish to expect the same country that doesn’t offer universal healthcare, higher education, sick leave, parental leave, or any other mark of social welfare to be able to respond quickly to a public health crisis…

…if it even believes it’s a crisis at all.

Lucifer’s Hammer.

“Hopeless causes are the only ones worth fighting for. The fight for the taxpayer is the most hopeless of them all.” — Larry Niven, Lucifer’s Hammer.

The election season came and went as an afterthought pushed to the forefront. With the job loss, economic uncertainty, death, and suffering the year entailed, it was almost a slap in the face to realize ‘oh yeah, we’ve got a election season this year too don’t we?” Between the ‘debates’ that were rightly called out as some of the worst— or most pointless — that had ever been moderated, many political analysts, journalists, scholars, and historians gave warnings that Trump would either try to overturn the election results if a loss occurred or even attempt a coup d’état.

A higher amount of mail-in-ballots and early voting compared to years earlier gave people the idea that election interference would already be underway. If Trump was ahead by election night, there was still a chance Biden would pull out ahead due to larger amounts in urban areas being counted last. The day arrived with much anticipation and fervor — regardless of aisle.

November 3rd dawned with a sense of finality of purpose.

For both sides, it felt like an all-or-nothing scenario.

Win or lose.

Do or die.


The day passed and they started to tally the votes by evening. As midnight approached, the election was too close to call. The Rust Belt was propping Trump up so far but Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia still had votes to count in areas considered to be Democrat strongholds. The country waited for the ultimatum to be issued.

The lunch hour on November 4th soon arrived. Then mid-day. And with it, the final votes.

Biden was soon declared the winner.

As the morning of November 5th ticked by, Trump and his admin tried to foment discontent with both the results and the process. The following weeks resulted in multiple judges giving assurance that the election results were reliable and other organized groups trying to sow doubt that ‘the fix was in.’

As the media outlets started to report the news, the underbelly of the Trump admin was already making its moves in response. After spending weeks trying to dispute the election results, several key officials at the Pentagon were let go from their positions. These men were replaced by ones who had open sworn their fealty to Trump for years. On December 18th, Trump announced that there would be a ‘March To Save America Rally!” on January 6th…a date that suspiciously coincided with the date the votes from the Electoral College were counted.

An unprecedented moment in modern American politics was about to begin.

The Year of The Flood.

“How easy it is, treachery. You just slide into it.” — Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood.

What President Trump had declared to be a ‘March To Save America!’ rally only days after the Electoral College had voted on December 18th, January 6th was significant because it was the day where Congress would meet to count the votes of the Electoral College; the gathering also functioning as a ceremonial lynchpin for the ‘peaceful transition of power.’ With the Vice President, Representatives, and Senators in the Chamber doing their due diligence, the ‘March To Save America!’ rally grew boisterous with the speeches provided by Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and even President Trump himself. Some may have come to simply show their fervor while others — bearing items such as a makeshift-gallows and zip-ties — had violence on their minds.

As the mob outside circled the capitol and grew more violent, the lack of a police presence bewildered the journalists and reporters who had started to air the footage on live television. The Vice President and Congressional officials taken to a secure location, the mob eventually broke windows, opened the entrance-doors and started to parade through the hallways. The few police officers stationed inside loosely fought back against the insurgence. One of them — a man by the name of Brian Sicknick— lost his life.

Eventually, more police and national guard units arrived to control the chaos; but with the Secret Service barring the chamber door with furniture — and shooting a woman named Ashli Babbitt who tried her best to climb over the barricade — the damage was already done.

The Capitol Police members inside either managed to lead people away from the Senate chamber — such as Eugene Goodman — or held fast against a greater insurgence. As backup forces arrived in tow, multiple assailants were arrested, and the angry mob was sent home. Not only was the President of the United States disappointed in the mob’s failure to break in further and cause unprecedented chaos, he was also terrified of legal walls closing in.

If the jokes hadn’t written themselves yet, the coming indictments already had.

An unsteady period between the evening of January 6th and January 20th resulted in the Washington Mall being declared a “Green Zone,” and the national guard being dispatched to state capitols across the country.

An increased presence at the federal capitol watched and waited as well.

On January 20th, The Biden inauguration carried itself out without further event.

Somehow — almost miraculously — Trump’s presidency ended in a way nobody could’ve predicted.

‘…not with a bang but with a whimper.’

Perhaps even a whine.

The Stand.

“If we don’t have each other, we go crazy with loneliness. When we do, we go crazy with togetherness.” — Stephen King, The Stand.

Even before this long-drawn-out conclusion, there’s a chance some readers realized a recurring theme in the titles dividing the article. Cultural commentators have used running gags signifying 2020 as an ‘apocalyptic year’ of sorts. Therefore, the author of this article has decided to use familiar works of apocalyptic fiction to divide the key ideas presented. While the plot of each novel differs, they harbor familiarities and concerns for anyone who experienced 2020. The Year That Was.

At the crux of each book is a turning point, a nexus from where a central concept — or character — can no longer return to what once was. Just as humans on Earth are forced to grapple with a global-catastrophe, our popular culture is plagued with stories about characters facing the unthinkable. Although novels and short stories are the works cited, even film and television can print money by selling collective fear; fear of a rapid, spiraling unknown…

…an unknown that can’t be undone.

The end of the world as we know it.

As the Joe Biden administration continues to move through it’s first one-hundred-days , COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket across the nation, and the world continues its deep plunge into as-yet-unrealized-economic-fallout, the past few years have emerged from a science-fiction fever-dream. Between the pandemic, riots, and attempted-coupe d’états as a grand finale, it appeared as if whoever was moderating reality was falling asleep at the switch. Regardless if the next decade — or century — remains as turbulent as our current reality, we can bask in the knowledge that the wild rollercoaster of last year will remain a turning point for modern human-history.

There is no more normal anymore.

Even if reality’s science-fiction has yet to be written.



Samuel Carlton

Writer. Blogger. Sales Professional. Film Buff. Coffee Addict. I write about tech, movies, stories, life, current events, and the future.