Friday, December 30, 2022

Surviving Apocalypses: Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

A lot of post-apocalyptic fiction is the province of woefully over-confident libertarian white dudes riffing on their survivalist wet dreams. Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow, thankfully, is not that at all. 

In fact, Rice does a lot (much like Octavia Butler) to show how stupid those macho survivalist fantasies really are and how community and care guide our survival. Not that everything is puppy dogs and rainbows filled with rosy, bland communitarians, either; there's plenty of tension and drama to be found both within the community and from without. Those accustomed to more over-the-top apocalyptic fiction may not see the underlying tension, but it's there if you pay attention. 

And along the way you get some delightfully unnerving mounting dread as things fall apart and our main characters in this remote Indigenous community of far northern Ontario do their best to survive. But as one elder put it, this band of Anishinaabe people has survived several apocalypses already. 

An apocalypse is not the end, but could be a beginning (a lesson I think we need as some people yearn to "go back to normal" toward the end of the COVID pandemic; Can we ever go back? Should we try? Was "normal" so great, anyway?). 

Much like Indigenous philosophies more generally, I think there are a lot of lessons in this deceptively deep short novel. I'll be thinking about it for a long time.

See also my Goodreads review.

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