By JOHN CONNOR*
Life would be so much simpler if there were fewer people around. What we need is a global catastrophe that wipes out most of the world's population. Then we can start again and maybe get it right.
A nuclear war or collision with an asteroid should do the wiping out, but these are indiscriminately destructive events. A quick search of other popular mass-destruction scenarios reveals the ideal solution: a lethal virus specific to human beings. The reality would be terrible, but the misanthropic fantasy of living in a world where nearly everyone else has died is appealing.
This is the New Zealand of Kokopu Dreams. The rabbit calicivirus, illegally introduced by those irresponsible Mackenzie Country farmers, has mutated and killed almost everyone in New Zealand.
A new Dark Ages has descended. Scattered communities eke out an existence in a land where packs of wild dogs and bands of cannibalistic bikers roam.
Into this land comes Sean, a man with a mission. He must travel New Zealand, from the Hokianga to Southland, to discover the secret that will save the human race.
Take away the sci-fi conceit of a lethal virus and Kokopu Dreams is pure Arthurian legend.
Sean is a knight in search of the Holy Grail. He is strong and courageous, a champion of the weak and rescuer of damsels; he does battle with the dogs and the cannibals.
With the disappearance of a materialistic society, magic has returned. Naturally enough, it is based on Maori folklore, but the Arthurian atmosphere is reinforced. There are seers whose visions guide Sean, wise, old, Merlin-like kaumatua, dragons in the form of the terrifying Kurangaituku and goblins in the form of maeroero.
Kokopu Dreams is an old story. Just about everyone loves old stories, especially when they are as well told as this one. New Zealand is the setting, and what better place to set a story of legend and magic? Why else would that other Arthurian-derived story The Lord of the Rings be filmed here?
* John Connor is an Auckland writer and lecturer.
By JOHN CONNOR*