After the Apocalypse: Stories
Small Beer Press
Maureen McHugh
“After the Apocalypse”

“After the Apocalypse” is from Maureen McHugh’s story collection, After the Apocalypse: Stories (Small Beer Press, 2011).  McHugh is the author of a Story Prize finalist collection, Mothers & Other Monsters, and four novels, including Tiptree Award-winner China Mountain Zhang and New York Times editor’s choice Nekropolis.  McHugh has also worked on alternate reality games for Halo 2, The Watchmen, and Nine Inch Nails, among others.  She lives in Los Angeles.


McHugh had to this say after the origin of her story:  I owe this story to three people.  Many years ago in a workshop where we were critiquing a Bruce Sterling story called “Bicycle Repairman’ Karen Fowler mentioned that she was pleased to see a mother in the story.  I started thinking about how fundamental the mother/child relationship was and how most of what was mothers in fiction were either monsters or saints.  I started trying to write about mothers.


A few years later, Kelly Link observed that my mothers tended to be flawed but basically good, and I knew she had put her finger on one of my greatest fears, that I might be a bad mother.  It was so strong a fear it was hard for me to even enter into it imaginatively.  Which meant, of course, that I probably should.  And lastly, Gavin Grant said he would publish my collection, After the Apocalypse, and I was one story short.  So there was nothing left to do but sit down and write a title story about a bad mother dealing with disaster.  The odd thing is that while I don’t approve of Jane, the mother in “After the Apocalypse” I have a certain sympathy for her.

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