When at the end of the first episode of “The Last Of Us” we see the city of Boston and its buildings in the background, a feeling of discomfort remains. More than the destruction, what becomes prominent is the image of a world without us, without people. Throughout the series, as the characters arrive in different cities, there is the idea that nature has taken over the world during our absence, and this is the theme of the book. The world without us (published in Portugal by Estrela Polar, but now out of print), by Alan Weisman.
The book was originally published in 2007. Alan Weisman imagined what the world would be like without humans. What would happen to cities, the planet and wildlife if humans simply disappeared. Two of the most immediate and timeless images are revealed right at the beginning of the book: one is the idea that when we buy a house, we’re buying something that will eventually be destroyed (and what that does to the self-esteem of those with housing credit). The other is what would happen to New York if it were left empty of people.
The book was an immediate success and became a reference, not only for feeding the idea (is it inevitable?) that life will go on without us, but also for the reflection it starts: what can we do to avoid it? In addition, The world without us it also touches on another area of generous fascination: what was the world like before us? Weisman’s research is profound, more calming than disturbing reading: not that we’re doing things right to guarantee our survival, but the idea that everything will go on is reassuring nonetheless.
Based on science, not science fiction, The world without us it quickly became an influence on how different fiction creators constructed their post-apocalyptic worlds and other dystopias. Over the past decade, the book has been a quiet influence. In the case of “The Last Of Us,” one of its creators, Neil Druckmann, who also had a role in the video game that spawned the HBO Max series, assumes so. We spoke to journalist and author Alan Weisman via Zoom about his influence The world without usfor the pandemic and for the future.
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