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The notion of apocalypse -- the word is from the Greek for "the lifting of the veil" -- has been with us, in various forms, for a long time. But it's still worth asking: What does it mean that the dream life of the richest, most scientifically advanced nation in history is troubled by nightmares of the end?Et quand l'Amérique a peur, la littérature s'en donne à coeur joie, et plus seulement les écrivains de genre.
The simple answer is that growing worries about global warming and the attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq war have brought a sense of unease and vulnerability to both artists and audiences. See, whose 2006 novel, "There Will Never Be Another You," centers on chemical warfare, said that even more important was the fearmongering that followed 9/11. The worry over anthrax and other threats, she said, "lodged in a sick part of our unconscious. It turned something ordinary, like 'yellow cake' or opening a letter, into something that would kill you in a fearsome and disgusting manner."