Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

On the night a deadly flu pandemic hits the city of Toronto, famous actor Arthur Leander suffers a heart attack and dies on-stage during a performance of King Lear. While the pandemic continues to spread, the people in Arthur’s life start to realise that the world as they know it is coming to an end.

Twenty years later Kirsten, one of the child actors who witnessed Arthur’s death, travels between settlements in the post-pandemic world together with a company of actors and musicians. As they try to keep something of the old world alive in their performances of Shakespeare’s plays, they will have to navigate the dangers of their new world.

Since this book is about a deadly pandemic, I can understand if now (2022) is not the time for you to pick it up. However, I have personally found myself oddly drawn to this subject (and to post-apocalyptic fiction in general) since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the several post-apocalyptic books that I have read during this period, Station Eleven was probably my favourite. It has a great set of characters and immediately draws you in with its mysterious atmosphere.

The majority of the book takes place either just before, or twenty years after the time of the outbreak, so the story does not go into much detail about the collapse itself. This creates some distance between these events and the reader. Both the scenes from before and from after have the same wistful, dreamlike quality about them which somehow made the book feel quite serene despite its heavy subject matter.

It becomes clear very soon that the different characters that we follow are somehow connected, and I found the way in which this mystery is resolved very satifying. All in all a great reading experience, if you feel up to it. I have just started watching the recent HBO adaptation of this book, so keep your eye out for a review of that as well!

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