Imagine that you're living in a post-oil United States of America. To thrive and survive, you're forced to learn a trade, barter for goods and services, and tend a garden plot to feed yourself and your family. If you become ill or injure yourself, it's likely that you'll either die or endure continuous pain, because first aid supplies and trauma units—as we know them—are no more. Police departments? Those are history, literally. The internet? Nope. All those pricey Macs and Dells are archaic paperweights, and fancy online job titles mean exactly nada. Television? A dimly remembered entertainment. Interstate travel? Not gonna happen, unless you've got a horse, a firearm, and other people willing to accompany you through a lawless America gone to seed. This is the simultaneously heartening and depressing scenario author James Howard Kunstler explores in World Made By Hand, an allegory drawn from dire prognostications he spelled out in 2005 peak-oil horror show The Long Emergency. In that book, Kunstler reasoned that, as a planet, we're not too far removed from that fateful day when there's just not enough sweet crude left to fuel all those 18-wheelers, Hummers, SUVs, sedans, sea-faring vessels, and other gas-guzzling contraptions, not to mention all the ubiquitous byproducts oil is used to create. World takes the far-flung fallout to its logical conclusion, with a much-reduced populace living off the land, uneasily co-existing in loose tribes, and coming to grips with the fact that the future isn't quite what it used to be.
Tue., April 15, 7:30 p.m., 2008