So the nuclear apocalypse happens, and it’s pretty much exactly as you imagine it would be. Or, rather, how you would imagine it to be, if you thought about it rationally, instead of always using it as a springboard for fantasising about getting the girl down the street into your apocalypse bunker. The only long-term pocket of survivors is the team of scientists at the Antarctic base. But that’s ok, because there’s a whole bunch of them down there; more than enough genetic variety to restart the human race, and they’re all pretty smart, so that’s an added head-start for humanity 2.0.
They’re not going to repeat all the mistakes of the last 10,000 years, they decide. Just a few tweaks should do it. No superstition, no racism, no gender inequality… it’ll be sweet. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to reboot the human race according to their own designs every now and then?
So one of the more feministically inclined psychologists convinces everyone to raise their kids without a concept of gender. Which, as it turns out, is easier than you’d think; because it’s the Antarctic, and everyone’s always wearing bulky clothes. Not everyone is entirely sold on the idea; it’s a little worrying to trust the entire future of the human race to what sounds a bit like a psychology experiment; but he has some books on the subject, and as the combined library of the surviving human race now amounts to only a few hundred books and the complete DVD box set of Cheers, they’re pretty persuasive.
So they go along with it, and they have to admit it seems to work pretty well. The kids all develop pretty healthy relationships, and the future of humanity looks pretty bright. Then a plague breaks out, and, as you can imagine happening in a hermetically-sealed Antarctic base, it spreads pretty quickly. And living almost entirely off Penguin meat and moss for a few decades doesn’t exactly do wonders for the immune system, either. So it’s not entirely surprising when anyone who doesn’t have the robust immune system of a teenager dies. But still, that’s ok; the kids know how to find food, how to take care of themselves, they’ve been raised well, they’ll do just fine.
Except they have no idea about gender. Naturally, being teenagers, they manage to figure out masturbation, but it never occurs to them that it signifies something more; something that they should be trying with their playmates. The decades pass, and the numbers thin out, until finally the last member of the human race is a woman (not that she knows it) named Charlie, who wanders the empty halls of the base, hunts penguins, and passes the time by playing with herself as she slowly goes stir-crazy.
Millions of years later, the palaeontologists among the inheriting Octopodes debate, at great length, whether the ultimate cause of the species’ demise was an ill-conceived science experiment, or bulky parkas.
Either way, they conclude, it’s pretty stupid.