Likely apocalypses: the hyper-intelligent animal

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! We’re nearing the end of our list of possibilities, so if you have a possible apocalypse you’d like us to take a look at, just let us know. This month’s possibility is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse. I know, I know — it sounds totally out there, but hey, dolphins are super smart, and at some point they might get tired of jumping through hoops on command, so an animal revolt could be a thing one day. (Are you prepared for your dolphin overlords?)
Of course, I’m not saying that animals aren’t smart. I mean, okay, so they may not be Einstein, but animals are intelligent — some more than others (looking at you, dolphins). That said, they haven’t figured out how to make nukes (yet, anyway), so there’s that.
Anyway. If, one day, there are suddenly a bunch of animals who can communicate in Human and use opposable thumbs, what would happen if they wanted to take over the world? Just in case you’ve been pondering this burning question (who hasn’t, right?), then you’re in luck, because that’s what we’re looking at!

What would a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse look like?

(First, I’m going to say here that “hyper-intelligent,” for the purposes of this article, is to have a level of communication, intelligence, reasoning, deduction, and analysis that is comparable to that of humans. That may be closer to reality for some animals than others, of course.)
Personally, I’m thinking a reverse zoo. At first, anyway. Honestly, I think a pissed off and vengeful Shamu would want to lock us up in similar conditions, even if it’s only for a little while. And while we’re all locked up in cages, they can a) point, laugh, and ask us how we like them apples, and b) go take over the world.
Then, of course, we’ll have to bow down to our new animal overlords.
Or maybe we’ll just spend the rest of our lives trying to escape from angry badgers bent on revenge. Who the hell knows.
Okay, in all seriousness, I’m not convinced that animals on their own could cause an apocalypse that would wipe out the human race. But, in the right circumstances, they could take advantage of an extinction event (whatever that may be). So, to speculate a little: let’s say that there’s a nuclear war (I’m not going to speculate on what causes that war, though). Let’s just say that the world goes boom. There’s nuclear winter, radiation everywhere, humans do not survive. But, like in the aftermath of the dinosaur extinction, something survives. Maybe it’s lizards. Maybe it’s snakes. Maybe it’s the peregrine falcon. Maybe it’s the Canada goose. Maybe several animal species survives. In any case, let’s say that these survivors, helped along by radiation, evolve much faster than they normally would. Now they’re “hyper-intelligent.” They may not have opposable thumbs, but they’ve found a way to compensate.
And then…they take over the world. And Earth becomes the planet of the geese. Or something.

How likely is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Well, it depends on what apocalyptic scenario we’re looking at. The scenario in which one or two animal species rise up and take over the human race? Probably not all that likely. But the scenario in which a surviving species (or multiple surviving species) pick up the pieces of a decimated world in which humans have already been wiped out? Likely.
After all, it’s already happened. (Poor dinosaurs.)

How do you survive a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Scenario one: make friends with your new animal overlords, pronto. Maybe they’ll consider you useful. Or it’ll be a reverse pet thing. Either way, you’ll (hopefully) be alive, and you’ll (hopefully) be treated well.
Scenario two: you can’t.

Likely Apocalypses: Government Collapse

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! This month, we’re looking at government collapse.
Let’s be honest — if there’s a likely apocalypse that’s more likely than others, it might be this one. The world is sort of terrifying and terrible right now. And is it just me, or does it seem like the world is a hair trigger away from world nuclear war? (And if it comes to that, I’m pretty sure my country is doomed. We have no nukes, and we live next door to a country that does, but has also said they won’t come to our aid.)

What would an apocalypse by government collapse look like?

Probably nothing good. (I mean, really.) But let’s break it down a bit. For a government collapse to cause a worldwide apocalypse, it would have to be the government of a large, powerful country. It would have to be powerful enough to wreak havoc on the global economy, and would have to be big enough that its collapse would trigger a worldwide threat. So, this would probably mean the collapse of the U.S., the U.K. (maybe?), Germany, Russia, or China. Maybe France. And I think it would have to be more than one government collapsing at the same time. It might be possible for the world to overcome one major power falling apart, but two or even three or more? That’s harder.
Aside: if France or Germany collapse, would that also trigger the collapse of the EU itself? Because that would domino this apocalypse into fast-forward.
Also! I think that, for a government collapse to bring about the apocalypse, it would have to be the total breakdown in the government itself. Like, maybe a Designated Survivor season 1 type of collapse, only without Kiefer Sutherland there to save the day. Not “oh the government is collapsing based on the results of the last election.” Though…I suppose that might be true, in a slow-and-painful-death sort of way. And, of course, I suppose that the population could rise up and there could be a revolution or a coup or something, and a government could collapse because of the people. (If there was a revolution, what would happen after? Anarchy? A puppet government? A military dictatorship? The next Napoleon? The possibilities are seemingly endless!)
In any case, regardless of how it happens, a country’s government would have to fall apart, completely, with chaos and confusion and all that fun stuff. The local currency is devalued (probably), people lose money, there are riots, borders close, people (probably) die. (It doesn’t sound fun.)
And what happens after? Once all the chaos dies down, are we then left with the Hunger Games? Or maybe Incorporated? (That show was cancelled far too soon, by the way.) Or Blade Runner? Or Planet of the Apes if we all end up mutated from radiation?

Is an apocalypse by government collapse likely?

Well. I think it could be. I mean, I think it’s certainly possible. More possible than any of the other likely apocalypses I’ve talked about, with the exception of maybe nuclear war (which, in all likelihood, would be related to a government breakdown).
Let’s face it — the world is a touch unpleasant and scary right now. I think, honestly, that the world going down the road toward anarchy or dystopia is quite possible. Would that be caused by a government collapse (or many governments collapsing)? I don’t know. It could. Or it could be caused by governments hitting red buttons and the world going poof. At this point, anything’s possible, really. But I think that the world is on a very precarious ledge at the moment, and at it could crumble and collapse at any moment.

How can we survive an apocalypse by government collapse?

Um. I don’t know. Go off the grid, maybe? Build an underground bunker? Pray and hope for the best?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think that, whether we like it or not, the government plays such a big role in people’s lives (either directly or indirectly), that there’s just no surefire way to survive a collapse.

Likely Apocalypses: GM Foods

It’s time to look at likely apocalypses again! This time, we’re going to look at the possibility of an apocalypse by genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified, or GM, foods, are pretty well known. Even if most people only have a passing knowledge of GM foods, it seems as if everyone has an opinion. I mean, say “Monsanto” in a crowded room and then sit back and watch the world burn. (But, um, not literally burn.) So, can GM foods really cause an apocalypse? Let’s take a look.

What are GM foods?

GM foods are, in essence, pretty self-explanatory. They’re crop seeds that have been genetically engineered, typically for a particular purpose. (No, that purpose is not to cause zombie food. Well…at least I hope not.) These seeds may grow crops that are more resistant to weather damage, need less pesticides, grow more easily in hard-to-grow environments (like dry soil), or have a higher crop yield. (There are other reasons, and I can’t pretend to even have an inkling of them all, but those are a few.)
I guess you could say that GM foods are crops that are bred for a purpose. Like cross-breeding roses for the perfect shade of red, only with food that people ingest. Okay, okay — to be fair, breeding roses isn’t exactly the same thing. That’s more selective breeding, which has been around for centuries. GM seeds aren’t selectively bred per se; they actually have foreign DNA inserted into them to promote whatever purpose for which they’re being modified.

Are GM foods safe?

Well, this is sort of what’s causing the controversy. There’s currently no evidence that GM foods are harmful or cause health issues/defects/etc, but…there isn’t any evidence that says they aren’t totally safe, either. The absence of harm doesn’t necessarily prove safety, but the lack of proven safety doesn’t necessarily prove harm, either. So…the jury’s still out. Some countries have also banned or restricted the use of GM crops, so make of that what you will.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll just sit here and eat my ripe-for-longer banana. (Kidding; I’m allergic to bananas.)

Can GM foods cause an apocalypse?

Um. I don’t know. I mean, I guess it’s possible, since no one seems to truly know what the long-term effects (if any) are. Is it likely? Well, at the risk of sounding like an indecisive record…I don’t know. Long-term effects and all that. This is one of those things where really, only time will tell. (Though if it does cause an apocalypse, would we be able to recognize it before it’s too late? Hmm…)

What would a GM food-based apocalypse look like?

Who knows! Really, anything is possible, and I’m sure many other people have thought about this. Personally, I think it would be more along the lines of unintended consequences. I have a list of “what if’s” that fall under that. For example, what if a modified strain mutates and stops growing, leading to starvation? Or what if it mutates and ends up poisoning people? What if GM foods end up producing more allergens, or somehow lead to adverse health reactions? Will crops lose their genetic diversity? What if seeds are controlled by one or two corporations, giving them the ability to control the world’s population? (Insert twirly mustache villain here.) Will a reliance on modified food then allow people to weaponize the seeds (think biowarfare)? What if the world ends up relying on GM foods, which leads to only having one or two strains of any single crop, and something goes wrong — like famine or a bug infestation or a disease? Will the altered plant DNA eventually alter human DNA and create plant people? (I know, I know, this one’s unlikely. It would make a fun novel though; someone should get on that.)
So many apocalyptic possibilities.

Sources (and extra reading)

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm
https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/Understanding-Genetically-Modified-Foods.aspx
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-genetically-modified-food/

Book thoughts: The Sunshine Series by Nikki Rae


The Sunshine Series
Author: Nikki Rae
Publisher: Nikki Rae
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Vampire
This is a bit of an unorthodox review from me, since I’m reviewing all the three books of a trilogy together. I did this to make it easier though, so I could post the review all at once. (And because I didn’t want to make the author wait even longer, since she’s waited a hell of a long time already. My sincere apologies, Nikki.)
Be warned! This review might be a bit longer than usual.
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Book review: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel

CitiesThronesCities and Thrones
Author: Carrie Patel
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: July 2, 2015 (UK), July 7 (North America)
Note: This book was provided by the publisher.
Blurb:

In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.
Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

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Book review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

the walled cityTitle: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: YA
Release Date: November4, 2014
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there traffic drugs or work in brothels–or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

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Book review: Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach

heaven's queenTitle: Heaven’s Queen
Author: Rachel Bach
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: SF

Available now
Blurb:

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive. 
Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running. 
It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

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Book thoughts: The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick

the shadow master coverThe Shadow Master
Author: Craig Cormick
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Available now
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Blurb:

Description

In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.
And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack…
A story of alternative history, love and conflict, madness and magic!
Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.

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Book review: Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

child of a hidden sea coverChild of a Hidden Sea
Author: A.M. Dellamonica
Genre: SF/F
Publisher: Tor
Available now
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Blurb:

One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles. The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard. Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered…her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.
But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world…or is doomed to exile, in Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica.

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