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Literature / Diaries of the Disaster

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Diaries of the Disaster is a name that has come into use referring to a series of short stories dealing with The End of the World as We Know It. Contributed to by a number of different authors, it begins with "The Lonely Void", in which a backyard tinkerer manages to make it off the planet Earth after it explodes…and then runs with it from there.

The Earth explodes, and Backyard Bob, who was laughed down when he predicted it, escapes. Meanwhile, the other survivors try and make for the Moon. Not all of them make it, and even fewer of them survive the resulting chaos. A posse of idealists leaves for Mars (the already-extant colonies of which get obliterated by a large chunk of Canada while they're traveling). Over the course of a few years, a small group of survivors manages to cobble together a generation ship. They launch, and it looks like Alpha Centauri is going to become the new home for mankind, almost three centuries hence.


…except that It Gets Worse. A group decides that they want to hoard resources for themselves, so they fake an inefficiency in the resource reclamation systems and end up causing the deaths of about three-quarters of the population on the ship for recycling…and they are perfectly willing to kill to keep their secrets.

In the middle of all this, there is another development. As it turns out, there actually were other survivors, scant and scattered though they be, in the Solar System, and the generation ship might not have needed to have been built in the first place. The story forks off on this tack, detailing the progress of the Martian terraformation project, thus ending up with two threads running in parallel.


This series presents examples of:

  • Apocalyptic Log: There are several, especially in the beginning. The way the story is currently shaping up, the captain's log of the Hope may be turning into one.
  • Back from the Dead: Tertius claims this upon his return, though he didn't really die.
  • Blatant Lies: The news report of the death of Patrick Scott is at odds with the official findings.
  • Corrupt Church: One springs up on the Hope, although three of its officials actually aren't.
  • De Terminator: Everybody, really, to some extent or another.
    • Backyard Bob deserves special mention. First, jury-rigs a personal spaceship to escape from the Earth before it explodes and ends up making it to Mars before meeting up with the Hope. Second, he cuts his chest open and hides a key piece of evidence inside of his body when the Corrupt Church tries to off him.
  • Driven to Suicide: The maintenance character in "Survivor's Guilt" experiences, well, survivor's guilt.
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  • The End of the World as We Know It: The story starts like this.
  • Faking the Dead: Archbishop Tertius somehow escaped being recycled.
  • Hearing Voices: Backyard Bob hears the remnants of the Earth talking to him after he blasts off.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: All the corrupt church officials are sent to the recyclers.
  • Hope Spot: The cloud detected in transit turns out to have been faked so that the population would be thinned down and resources could be hogged by a select group.
  • Ignored Expert: Backyard Bob, who is the only one who predicts the Earth's destruction, and is the only person who was on the surface near the time of the explosion to survive it.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The terraformation of Mars is described as "a project of astronomical proportions".
  • Info Dump: "Under the Crust", describing the terraformation plan.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Tertius is beat to death with a section of pipe that was used to kill another man on his orders.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Pastor Norton's death is covered up by the Corrupt Church. Backyard Bob sees through it, though.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Arnold Benedict, who leaves a large portion of the populace in an orbital hotel so that he can escape.
    • Bishops Mallard and Young are Shout Outs to two of the series contributors.
    • Pastor Banquo Thomas Norton and his son Fleance Conor Norton. Also, Seward, Jr., who dies fighting Archbishop Tertius.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Nobody listened when Backyard Bob predicted the destruction of the Earth! He jury-rigs a spaceship to escape. It works! But nobody who was on the Earth survived…
    • This:
    [Tertius' antics] incensed me enough to personally bash his head in. (The stain, incidentally, looks a little like Elvis.)
  • Nuclear Option: The terraformation of Mars requires restarting its magnetosphere. The approved plan calls for nukes.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The initial journey was slated at two hundred seventeen years. Then:
    This isn’t good. I just got a preliminary report from Chief Engineer Dutch. In order to survive we need to recycle everything. We took twice the consumables we thought we would need. We should achieve a 99.99% efficiency with our recycling. Dutch said we are actually only getting 99.7% over the past 90 days. If this rate doesn’t change we will run out in 181 years.
    • This was also the general reaction to the fact that the resource cloud was fake.
    • The realization that Tertius had beat the recycler provides another.
  • Retcon: Hobson was originally named Williams. The original story was reëdited after a subsequent user posted a sequel mistakenly referring to the captain as "Hobson".
  • Plot Hole: Just how exactly did Backyard Bob make it to Mars in a two-seater spaceship?
  • Shout-Out:
    • An important section of the plot is analogous to Macbeth.
    • The title of "Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain" is a reference to [1].
    • "The Matador"'s title is a reference to the movie version of Fail-Safe.
    • The name of one of the Chinese ships in the Asteroid Belt is Lán Tàiyáng, which was translated from Blue Sun using Google Translate.
    • A stain is at one point compared to the likeness of Elvis, a reference to a similar incident in Bloom County.
  • Time Skip: Several.
    • The first skip comes between the building and launching of the ship.
    • The Captain's Log goes from Ship's Day 007 to 113, and then the story shifts about three decades.
  • Together in Death: Captain Hobson volunteers to go to the recyclers because of his family.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The story has several different forks due to the nature of Ficly's prequel and sequel functions. Eventually two long-running threads emerge—one following the Hope and one following the remnants of humanity in the Solar System.
  • Wham Episode: Several.
    • The cloud was fake!
    • There are survivors in the asteroid belt!
    • In-universe: It was the Archbishop and his cronies!
    • Tertius escaped!

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