(? - ) US author whose short stories, assembled as Man v. Nature (coll 2014), manifest a twenty-first century sense that Homo sapiens's occupancy of the planet, and of our claims to pre-emptive Identity, are both fragile. The title story, set on a lifeboat in a vast expanse of ocean, follows the three survivors' attempts to make sense of the End of the World by imagining themselves creating a Television reality show. A similar apocalypse lurks outside the house, in "The Way the End of Days Should Be", where a single survivor contemplates oblivion; "The Not-Needed Forest" (Fall 2013 Zoetrope) isolates a group of boys, who destroy each other as though they were in an arena. Ruthlessly graceful, sometimes absurdist (see Absurdist SF), her short work is healthily reminiscent of authors like Italo Calvino or George Saunders.
Cook's first novel, The New Wilderness (2020), set in a Near Future enclave protected from the Climate Change that has poisoned most of the planet; an experiment is mounted to test if humans – set more or less loose in a large enclave known as the Wilderness State – are capable of cohabiting without destroying themselves or the rest of the world. There are some inevitable echoes of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Nigel Kneale's Television film The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968), or the UK reality show Eden (2016). The close of the tale is inconclusive. [JC]
Diane Marie Cook
collections and stories
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