Salon Magazine writer David Sirota wonders if we're experiencing the 'A-word':

Recently, I've been groping for the precise word to characterize the zeitgeist of this (unfortunately) historic moment. I know it's not merely "demoralized." It's something far more dread-laden -- a word I finally found during a visit last week to central Mexico.

Sitting atop the famed Pyramid of the Sun, I took in Teotihuacan -- the ancient metropolis outside Mexico City. Its weathered bricks and mortar look like many great archaeological wonders, except its annals include a harrowing asterisk: When the Aztecs discovered the site, it was abandoned, and nobody knows what happened to its inhabitants. The ruins thus feel like monuments to an apocalypse.

That's the term that popped into my mind as I baked in the Mexican sun -- "apocalypse": a phenomenon whose signs are everywhere these days.

Iraq bleeds from unending strife, while Israelis and Palestinians appear intent on annihilating each other. Pakistan just released A.Q. Khan, the scientist who delivered nuclear secrets to North Korea -- the country that's again threatening long-range missile tests. Colombia’s civil war rages, and the "great news" in Mexico is President Felipe Calderon's announcement that drug cartels haven't totally taken over the country.

In America, our apocalyptic symbols are usually subtler -- the birth of octuplets or a restaurant chain's Chicago Seven pizza, which consumerizes a renowned court case into a fast-food dish. But Wall Street and Washington exhibit a more overt Sodom and Gomorrah quality of late, to the point where even business magazines like Portfolio are invoking the A-word.

Is it 'the' Apocalypse? Or is our particular gift for hype and hyperbole manifesting itself once again? Are we near that edge, or have we already reached that tipping point?

Which reminds me... I need to get and read "Tipping Point", and re-read "Collapse" and, and...
Eschato- what?

Eschatology is the study of The End (from the Greek word 'eschatos', meaning 'last'). Most searches on this word will lead you to Christian sites full of prophecy and whatnot, but the Christians do not have a monopoly on the subject. Heck, they're only the lastest in a very long line of people who like to scare themselves silly with apocalyptic tales, prophecies and wild imaginings of all sorts. They've made an awful lot of money at it, too, and seem to delight in scaring themselves silly with Rapture Ready this and Armageddon that. It isn't a religious monopoly, though- I seriously think that we as a species have a built-in circuit that encourages this sort of terrible speculation, just like we have a hard-wired religious circuit.

But, whatever the source, studies and stories about The End permeate our culture. There are plenty of books around about the subject and its myriad iterations- and one of the functions of this community will be to create a virtual library- with links, if possible- to fictional and non-fictional books on the subject and related matters. There are tons out there- I have a pretty good collection of speculative fiction (OK, SciFi) books about various ways we get whacked- from nukes to alien invasions to asteroids. Many of them are as much about how we pick up the pieces afterwards as they are about the events themselves.

I invite you to post about your favorite fictional or non-fictional eschatological book- whether it's "Lucifer's Hammer", "The Stand", "Collapse", the "Dies the Fire" series, or some of the myriad 2012 books out there. Just make sure to use the tag 'eschatological library' or if you can't remember how to spell that word, simply 'library'. When we get enough posts about it, I'll do a mega-post and link to it.