Birth of a Novel

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"It's not the end of the world. It's the end of us," goes the tagline that LBWorks CCO Steffan Postaer wrote for the local campaign he's putting out in Chicago for his first novel, The Last Generation, out this December from Inkwater Press. The book examines the apocalyptic premise of how civilization would conduct itself in the face of extinction, not via meteors or alien invasion, but through slow but sure death by EFS - Embryo Fatality Syndrome - a disease that prevents fetuses from fully maturing in the womb. Postaer explains, "It's not like a Michael Crichton novel, where the plague hits and people strike back; it's about what would you and I do if we realized we were the last generation and the world will remain perfectly fine?"

That's a far cry from the whimsical naughtiness of Leo Burnett's award-winning Altoids "Curiously Strong" campaign, for which Postaer's best known. However, when he hit upon the idea for the novel, in 1998, after the birth of his daughter, the ad guy took over. "Each chapter was like pulling out a campaign idea. Each is a new execution, a whole new way of looking at the concept." The chapters tackle such dizzying subjects as what would happen to human sexuality if there were no biological imperative to create, and what would a pedophile's world be like if he couldn't find any children to molest. So is the screenplay already in his drawer? "I do think it would work great as a film, or as episodic TV," he says. "Each of the various vignettes could really represent an hour-long show." But he doesn't intend to adapt it himself. "I'd be thrilled to see how it works in someone else's brain."

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