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Writer’s review: ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’

Why do we keep telling apocalypse stories? Surely there are only so many ways to write the end of the world. So why is it such a fertile subject for speculative fiction?

There are multiple answers to that question. As a predictive tool, apocalypses let us highlight the hazards we see in the world today or imagine in the world tomorrow. As a setting, a world gone mad provides plenty of fodder for daring action sequences and thrilling near-misses. But the apocalyptic story that reached out from the screen and grabbed me this week contains neither prediction nor action.

Instead, Shauna O’Meara’s ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’ demonstrates another reason the apocalypse is such brilliant writing fodder: it has a potential for emotional impact like no other. Catastrophic events lend unprecedented urgency and depth to personal interactions – and O’Meara’s story takes the broad-scale tragedy of a society coming apart and makes it deeply, achingly personal.

Like my other writer’s reviews, this will be about what I took away from this story as a writer as much as a reader, and as usual it won’t try to avoid spoilers – so if you’re interested in experiencing the story as a reader, I highly recommend you go and read it before you read my analysis of it. It’s well worth it. I’ll wait.

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