When you are an avid reader, or anyone who reads books at all, there comes a point when all of the stories start to blend together. You pick up, say, a new dystopian book at the store, and sigh, because you know it’ll just be a new version of The Hunger Games or Divergent or a million other books, with the same plot, same characters, same villains. It’s inevitable. Abhimanyu Sukhdial’s novella, Three Days Till EOC, is different. Sukhdial takes his writing down a road that few writers ever fully explore, with a unique plot, and unique themes. Three Days Till EOC is a piece of dystopian, climate change fiction. In the year 2100, the glaciers are gone and the ice caps have melted. Only 1,000 humans—known as the Earthlings—remain, and in three days is EOC (the End of Civilization), when monster storms will end all human life.
The set up of the book makes it seem as though the fate of all humanity is sealed. But not quite. In fact, the Earthlings are able to take a flight to Mars, if they so wish, and continue their new lives there, without so much as a backward glance to Earth. However, the people who want to go to Mars are those who don’t care about trying to make change—even at the last minute—and don’t care about doing everything they can to stop EOC. The main characters of Three Days Till EOC are quite different.
Graham Hori Alison is a scientist, one of the only ones left who is still dedicated to stopping EOC. Most of the other Earthlings don’t like Graham too much. They avoid him, calling him a “Junior Uncle Scrooge.” They don’t understand why he is so focused on stopping climate change when it is clearly unbeatable, or why he won’t go on a spaceship to Mars like everyone else. In an interview, I asked Sukhdial how he chose to design Graham as his main character. He replied, “I like a lot of vulnerable characters, not just characters who are really, really powerful. And so I wanted to create a regular human because I feel he [is] very relatable, and not just a person with superpowers and stuff.”
Sukhdial’s story and characters are very relatable. While the plot does incorporate some cool sci-fi gadgetry—just enough to make it sufficiently futuristic—it stays true to itself, focusing on the topic of climate change and the people who work to stop it, which, unlike teleportation devices or time traveling train cars, are very real things. Graham and his friends, Shellie and Jackson, are persistent in their belief that they can save the world. They try, fail, and try again, working against the clock that ticks down to EOC.
The themes that Three Days Till EOC contains are also what sets it apart from most other fiction in its genre. Sukhdial wanted to “convey a lot of messages.” Overall, he spreads a message of perseverance, teamwork, responsibility, and legacy. All of these ideas are ones that fit in very well with our current world, as well as in EOC’s world. How can we, in 2020, persevere against all of the obstacles that plague us as a planet? How can we work together to better our world? How can we be responsible for our mistakes as well as willing to accept them and overcome them? And finally, what will our legacy be? What mark will we leave on the world? In Three Days Till EOC, Sukhdial doesn’t just ask us these questions, but he shows how answering them may well be able to save the world.