Dale Bailey’s “The End of The End of Everything” is the second story from Some of the Best from Tor.com 2014, which is free, and I recommend to everyone. The story has a currently-happening-apocalyptic setting, where the world is just about to end and everyone knows it. The mysterious “ruin”, not very clearly defined by the author encroaches on those living to see it come. I found it an interesting choice that the author deliberately left whatever “ruin” is up to the imagination of the reader and spent absolutely no time at all on trying to explain where it came from or what exactly it looks like or how it spreads. Those details were intentionally omitted because they are of no relevance to the story being told. All the reader needs to know is that it gets closer every day and destroyed everything that it comes in contact with. The real meat of the story is the characters who attend a sequence of suicide parties (the host’s soirée before they dramatically opt out of the remainder of their life in front of their guests) and discuss the ramifications of a deadly fate that is unavoidably coming their way at the tortoise’s pace. The questions of meaning and values in the face of their own demise and then further questioning if it had any meaning at all, then concluding whether it did or didn’t, does or doesn’t.
Well written, definitely worth a read.