Amish Sci-Fi

Pennsylvania - Michael Bunker Wick - Michael Bunker, Chris Awalt

So, Michael Bunker. Plain living self-sufficient subsistence farmer, by choice, not upbringing, and he writes Amish science fiction. I didn't read any yet, but I bought the book right away, because the idea just fascinates me, so consider this a "check this out" tip more than a "you got to read this". But do go look at the samples and the interview (linked from the title) and see what you think.



I had a kind of a wild childhood. My mother was a musician, in the early 70's, with all that went along with that. I spent my first few years on a hippy commune, and partly on a land occupation, attempting to wrestle back a big chunk of originally Maori crown land in the middle of Auckland from the government. Then my mum got married again, and I went from a slightly idyllic toddlerhood, to the disenfranchised inner city hell of most of the rest of my generation. It was pretty rough, and every few months, my grandmother (who raised seven kids of her own, and fostered 40 odd more) would roll in and more or less kidnap me back to the farm.


Again, still 70's, we lived about 20 miles from the nearest town, but back then in the north of New Zealand, that was remote. I remember getting electricity (we had a generator before that, for the milking sheds, but not in the house). I remember getting television, although we only had two channels and they only transmitted between 6pm and 10pm. I learnt to cook on an old Aga wood stove, and I remember sitting on the stoop helping boil linens in a big old copper cauldron. I know how to use a washboard for something other than making music, and the smell of lemon dishwashing liquid instantly takes me back to another of my "little kid" jobs, grating soap powder off the big old yellow bars of laundry soap. And there's an infamous-in-the-family picture of me aged 2, sitting between the feet of a big old feather footed plow horse munching an apple, while the horse is mouthing my hair trying to make me give it up. I rarely wore shoes (still don't). I'm not sure I actually had any. I know what it's like to have to fish for my breakfast or there won't be any, and I could shoot (and field dress) a brace of rabbits before I hit double digits. And I can darn socks and spin wool and a host of other things most people my age have no idea about.


Every few months, again, my mum would get around to telling social welfare where I was (I suspect when they checked up how many kids she was claiming benefits for.) And I'd be back in the bewildering city again for a little while, until next time Grandma came rolling down the driveway, dressed to the nines in her "don't you dare speak back to me" hat and whisked me back to the farm. And to be honest, outside of the religious aspect, living out there on the farm wasn't a million miles from the Amish lifestyle, and sometimes I ache for the somehow regimented simplicity of it even now. 


There's kind of a point to this little autobiography: I like to think that in a post-apocalyptic world, once the initial trauma was over, I would have a pretty good chance at surviving. Rusty my skills might be, but I think it'd come back. And I think, in such a situation, people who have been living off the grid by choice, no matter what their reason (because there's that whole "prepper" thing going on as well), would also be able to carry on virtually as normal. I can easily see the Amish and Mennonites being the only ones able to continue with a functioning social system in the face of a catastrophic technological breakdown, and I can see them being a beacon for others looking for stability and a new start.  In fact, the more I think about it, "Amish post-apocalyptic science-fiction" is so downright obvious as an idea, I can't believe nobody has done it before.