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Some recent questions on The Great Outdoors about long term survival tactics prompt this question about a story I read long ago. The story was probably in Analog, but I am not sure.

Civilization is slowly collapsing. No reason is given. For example, electric power becomes sporadic, then finally goes out. Two sisters, one a dancer with a promising career, live in a very sparsely populated area, and gradually become isolated. They have a generator, and conserve their fuel supply. In one key scene, the dancer turns on her player to have music to dance to -- one last time.

They successfully garden, but the obvious signs of habitation attract a wanderer, who rapes one of the sisters; she has a baby as a result. Finally, the sisters decide that it is too dangerous to remain in their house, and set off into the wilderness with one book -- I think it was a field guide to edible vegetation, but I am not sure. They had also figured out how to make acorns edible, and I think they took a bag of prepared acorns with them.

The ending gave me a feeling of desolation.

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Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, turned into a movie in 2015.

Book cover

Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home.

Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society's fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.

This Goodreads review discuses Eva's obsession with ballet and the rape.

Eva lives in her self-obsessed dreams of ballet. She would doubtlessly have perished without her sister to take care of her (ahem hover in an annoyingly well meaning kinda way in fruitless hopes it would ever be reciprocated). Nell talks the talk about wanting companionship, holding the torch of all the ideas that came before (when the world was a world of more than the two of them). She just wants to own facts, I think, like those encyclopedia entries she attempts to memorize, or her sister's time. The only walk she'd do is two giant steps behind Eva.

....

Eva dances without music. It's a pointlessly feverish dream like if someone lost their legs and can still feel them. What the hell is she expressing anyway? She wants to be great, but c'mon it isn't going to happen. There is no one to see her dance.

....

Eva has a baby after she is raped. She just doesn't want Nell to have anything to do with him.

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  • This is definitely it. Thanks! I am surprised that I missed the movie. It must have come and gone very quickly. Also, at the end of July, when it was released, I was preparing for a trip. I want to reread the book and see the movie.
    – user48960
    Feb 11, 2017 at 17:27

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