There’s a scene early in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven where one of the main characters is holded up in his brother’s apartment on the Toronto shoreline. An epidemic has just wiped out ninety percent of humanity; they’ve survived that through stocking up on essentials and making like mice for weeks on end. Now supplies are running out. His brother is disabled, so rather than be a burden as they travel the quiet post-apolyptic dystopia outside, does the honourable thing and offs himself.
Perhaps I’m needlessly grumpy today, but fuck the hell right off.
I read this a few weeks ago now, it was part of a small pile of necessary fiction to break up the very heavy non-fiction reading. I’m not sure where I heard about Station Eleven, but it seemed a lot of people were talking about it. Yeah, it was kinda disappointing and contrived. A great many ideas and narrative lines that went nowhere, an awful number of improbable relationships between characters spanning decades that didn’t add anything of significance. She could have written a whole book about the travelling theatre and orchestra group as decades passed and civilisation began to return, and that would have been well tasty. She didn’t. It’s not.
(I imagine an alternate reality where a different, better Emily St. John Mandel wrote Station Eleven. In this, the main character offs himself because he thinks he’ll have to do everything in order for his brother to survive. The brother, ex-military, pissed at his sibling’s typical selfishness goes off into the wilds of Ontario, joins the travelling theatre, falls in love with a hot bear, and lives ’til old age as head mechanist and general ‘fix anything with a length of number-8’ indispensable person.)