Based on the book of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven is set before and after a fictional flu pandemic. The inhabitants try to rebuild their world while holding onto the best of what they lost. (synopsis via nine.com.au)
If watching the teaser trailer for HBO Max’s new limited series offering, Station Eleven, seems eerily familiar, that’s because it neatly captures, in ways unnerving and COVID lockdown PTSD triggering, what life was like at the start of the pandemic when everyone was scared and not entirely sure what awaited them.
While the excellent book by Emily St. John Mandel was released in 2014, well before the pandemic blew up everyone’s idea of what normal looks like, it has proved to be eerily prescient about what a pandemic might look like.
Granted, the world has not fallen into an apocalyptic mess like it does in Station Eleven but much of the fear and uncertainty that marks the start of this evocative story is right on the mark.
What makes this book, and hopefully series, so special is that while it is bleakly honest about the untold damage a fiercely virulent flu might have on the world which basically loses almost all semblance of civilised life as we once knew it, it is also hopeful that for the small number of survivors (less than 1% of the pre-pandemic population) there is a way forward.
In that way, it marks a profound shift for end-of-the-world storytelling for while many apocalyptic tales are great at depicting the downfall of people, they fail to explore the building up again, something which Station Eleven the book does very, very well, and which I hope the limited series will also excel at.
Highly-sanitised fingers crossed.
Station Eleven drops on 16 December on HBO Max and in Australia on 17 December via Stan.