I used to subscribe to the idea of the "lone survivor", which was followed by the "survivalist and family" unit. However, by the time I came to write The Lucifer Bug I had realised that these small units are not viable if we want to do more than just survive. To preserve any form of civilisation there needs to be specialisation, and for this a team is needed. Not a big team, perhaps 30 is an upper limit, but enough to share out the skills and the workload, to have enough people so that some remain optimistic when others get demoralised.

Several kinds of team appear in the novel, the central one being the team of scientists devoted to solving a specific problem. I also explore the idea of a team built around dominance and submission (a dominance hierarchy), which has some qualities that would make it particularly resilient in difficult times. Another kind of dominance hierarchy is the military, represented in The Lucifer Bug by the Navy. Their arrival in the novel was almost as unexpected to me as the author as it was to the main characters, but they come to play quite a facilitating role and made me realise just how important the sea would be in any post-apocalyptic recovery. Another kind of hierarchy to interest me is the religious order, many of which are very ancient and resilient. The monastic orders in Great Britain suffered badly at the hands of Henry VIII, a fact which makes only the briefest of appearances in the novel.

When things break down, what happens to teams and communities? While some collapse into anarchy or are completely wiped out, are there groups that can survive and even thrive? What are the characteristics of those communities that continue to function after the catastrophe?

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