August 25th, 2011

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Drought and Trees

Here's an interesting post about the effects of drought on trees.

In the short term, trees are drought-resistant.  The longer a plant lives, the less vulnerable it is to one or a few bad years. But over the long term, rainfall determines what kinds of trees -- if any -- can live in an area.  As the rainfall drops, the more water-hungry species disappear.  Eventually the trees peter out entirely into prairie or even desert scrub.
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Women in a Post-Apocalypse

Here's an interesting essay about the portrayal of female characters in post-apocalyptic scenarios.

This is, um, mind-blowingly narrow-minded.  Yes, it's a common scenario.  It is by no means universal.  Warrior women are another common PA trope, and there's matriarchal PA fiction if you know where to look.  Plus some oddball examples like Sarah Connor, who is kind of pre-post-apocalyptic and trains her son to survive the apocalypse before it happens.  

Then too, I'm writing in a post-apocalyptic setting, Torn World.  Its various remnants had a lot of different ways of dealing with population pressures shortly after the Upheaval.  Some places needed to push population up, while others needed to limit it.  In the current period, the Southern Empire has rebuilt a thriving society and they have quite good birth control, and citizens are required to practice reproductive responsibility.  The Northerners don't have that kind of birth control, and they are trying to keep their population up which is a challenge in their situation.  Childbearing is expected and respected, but still voluntary.  They've made some serious social adaptations to solve problems in ways that are least stressful; for instance, they practice serial monogamy rather than permanent marriages, and they have raisers to care for children so that people unsuited to parenthood can reproduce then return to their real work.  

Seriously, if people make a post-apocalypic setting suck more than is absolutely necessary, it's just another case of humanity being stupid.  There are saner ways to do things, and some people have used them.  I will say, if you're planning to write post-apocalyptic fiction, do yourself a favor and read some anthropology books.  It's a lot more fun to write about societies that find unusual solutions, rather than Yet Another Broodmare Fic or Five Millionth Story About Testosterone Poisoning.