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End of one civilisation and the begining of another

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End of one civilisation and the begining of another

Postby berry » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:56 am

I am currently working on a story that involves a bit of genetic manipulation that goes rather drastically wrong and wipes out around 60 million people, which is most of the population of Britain. What I need help with is all the things that I need to consider when deciding how they rebuild society.
The scenario is there are 40,000 people left in Britain, the rest of the planet has also been affected by the same virus so there is no contact with other countries.This means -
No imports or exports
No oil, so travel by car and all machinery that require petrol i.e Tractors, combine harvesters etc will not run.
Energy problems as the people left do not know how to run power stations - leading to no computers, etc as well as no mass production of any kind.
The major cities have been abandoned as they are full of dead/decomposing bodies. So my survivors choose a national park and attempt to build shelter there by hand.
There are still a great deal of actual objects left as there hasn't been a lot of damage to the country in general so there are books, instruments, medical equipment, and household items.

I want to make it a realistic scenario so I want to make sure I consider all the aspects of what life will be like for my survivors.
Any ideas?
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Postby RHFay » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:40 am

One suggestion; study history. Study the Dark Ages in particular. I know they weren't as dark as past historians once thought, but people were still rather isolated. Many people in villages in northern Europe didn't know anything about the world outside the village.

It makes for a rather narrow view of the world. There is a reason that dragons and other monsters inhabited the wilderness; for the most part the people had no idea what was beyond the next hill. Their imaginations populated the countryside with a huge array of horrors.

It sounds like, if the people lost petrol and electricity, you would actually see a return to some pre-modern technologies. Oxen and horses plowing the fields to grow the food for the local community, because there is no longer any imported foodstuff. People would harvest the grain by hand. Without electricity, people would resort back to water and wind. You would see water and windmills to grind the grain to make the bread. No supermarkets with Wonder bread; people would have to grow the grain, grind it, and make their own bread.

If factories didn't run, people would start to make their own clothing. Not necessarily furs, but if books and knowledge survived, smart and skilled people could figure out again how to spin yarn and weave their own cloth. You probably wouldn't see man-made materials (made in factories with chemicals); it would be a return to linen, wool, and perhaps cotton.

People built shelters by hand for centuries. You have many options regarding what kind of housing. It doesn't have to be homes made from twigs; you can have them build log homes, or even timber homes of wattle-and daub. Traditional carpenters may have the required skills. It can certainly be done.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there would be a return to the way people lived before the advent of the industrial age. Study some history books, the types that talk about how people lived in various historical periods. That may give you an idea about the standard problems people faced. Then add your own based on your particular storyline.

I hope this helped.

Cheers!
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Postby Spiderkeg » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:59 pm

If this were to really happen, my first concern would be to address all the unattended machinery still active. Seriously, someone needs to at least head to the nearest nuclear reactor and shut that down. Left untouched, you would have more problems than just a virus. Then there's the power. Someone must shutdown all non-essential areas, or else all left over energy will be wasted. Running water, someone has to attend to that.

Life would regress. People would, or should, collect in a central location and begin rebuilding from there. The city should be abandoned for smaller zones.

Scary, but imagine if this really happened... so many things would be left running, unfinished, unknown. We would never be aware of that chemical dump left to mix with the water supply.
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Postby clknaps » Sat Jul 28, 2007 6:53 am

Let me just second RHFay's suggestion to study history. You'd need to deal with the basics of survival first and foremost. That means getting food in your belly, clothes, and a roof over your head. That will consume most of the time in one's day.

There was some dreadful movie a couple of years back about a horde of dragons that got loose and run amok and everyone in England had gone back to living in the old castles. I thought that was the best part of the movie. It starred Matthew McConhey (spelling) help me out someone what was the name of it??

Also you might want to check out Jack London's works. He deals a lot with bare bone survival, it will give you some good ideas.

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Postby RHFay » Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:33 am

clknaps wrote: You'd need to deal with the basics of survival first and foremost. That means getting food in your belly, clothes, and a roof over your head. That will consume most of the time in one's day.

There was some dreadful movie a couple of years back about a horde of dragons that got loose and run amok and everyone in England had gone back to living in the old castles.


Ah, clknaps brought up a good point that made me think of something else that could give you inspiration; wilderness survival manuals. The military has wilderness survival volumes that could give you a good idea about how people could survive.

Could the movie that clknaps referred to be Reign of Fire? I've never seen it, but it is about dragons causing chaos in the modern world.
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Postby Boikat » Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:35 am

RHFay wrote:Could the movie that clknaps referred to be Reign of Fire? I've never seen it, but it is about dragons causing chaos in the modern world.


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Postby aldan » Sat Jul 28, 2007 8:54 pm

Now, don't forget about such things as stacked stone homes (really rough, but done pretty often), clay or adobe homes, and such things as homes created from ruins of older ones... such as taking the roofing materials from the remains of some houses (use such things as shake shingles, asphalt shingles, and other such for roofs, some tile from kitchens or bathrooms for flooring, and even having an actual bathtub from a pre-destruction home be moved into the 'new' home. That tub would likely be the family's pride and joy, even though it'd be a pain to fill, most likely.
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Postby RHFay » Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:08 am

aldan wrote: That tub would likely be the family's pride and joy, even though it'd be a pain to fill, most likely.


They would fill it just like they did in "olden days", with buckets of water, perhaps warmed over a fire first.

The nobility actually took baths in the Middle Ages, although the period between baths could be great. It helped having servants that could fill your bath for you. (I believe King John of England was thought of as odd, in part, for his excessive bathing, but don't quote me on this. It could have been another royal.)
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