Tuesday, March 3, 2015

'The Last Man on Earth'

Will Forte, the creator, writer, and star, of the new television series "The Last Man on Earth" is apparently the lone survivor of a deadly virus.

Robert Lloyd, a Los Angeles Times television critic, describes the series:
Despite taking place five years in the future and sharing the title and more or less the premise of a 1964 Vincent Price movie, it is not science fiction. It's an abstraction, really, a comedy about existential cares and social mores in the absence of society. It asks what you do when it doesn't matter what you do because there's no one else around to care, or to care about.
Do you stop at stop signs? Eat with a fork? Park in a parking space?
The emphasis is mine. I'm sure generations of science fiction authors who have written similar stories will be glad to know that Robert Lloyd doesn't think they are capable of abstraction or consideration of existential cares and social mores.

I'll mention one well-known example: "Not With a Bang" by Damon Knight (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Winter-Spring 1950): after a plague the last man and the last woman meet at a restaurant. He goes to the men's room. While there he is stricken with the illness. The last woman can easily save him -- she has the antidote -- yet she can't face the idea of entering the men's room.

"Not with a Bang" is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories of the past 60 years. For a partial list, see this listing.

Related link:
'Last Man on Earth' review by Robert Lloyd (Los Angeles Times)