Take heed, Tor.com readers, the world is ending!
And has already ended, and will end at some point in the future. In fact, if the human race is really bad at anything besides skeeball, it is predicting when the world will end. To make that abundantly clear, Loren Madsen has assembled Pick a Year, a table of years that collects all of the various cries of doom that have piled up over the centuries.
The range covers thousands of years, past, present, and future, and while religious prophecy and cultural mythology make up a significant portion of it—at least one religious figurehead alive today was convinced the world would end in 1952—scientific predictions are also included. A particular rib-tickler is the entry for 2026, when the world’s population was predicted to reach INFINITY by a poorly-written article in a 1960s science periodical.
Click a year to see how the world was supposed to end. The language is cheeky and 2035 is NSFW, but it’s a pretty enjoyable romp through a flurry of averted apocalypses. (How does one pluralize apocalypse? Didn’t Buffy settle this a while back?) The predictions read as a fairly transparent rundown of societal anxieties and fads throughout the centuries. Nuclear destruction crops up after World War 2, new age prophecies begin to appear in the 1960s, and 2000 is chock-a-block with predictions.
If anything, we hope it strikes a note of optimism within you. After all, if the world is always ending, then it’s never really ending, is it?
Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and often random voice of Tor.com. It wishes it could show this website to those “May 11, 2011” doomsayers in the NYC subway. You know, the ones who changed their literature to say a tsunami was coming right after Japan was hit. Stay classy, doomsayers.