My photo
The idea behind this blog is to share my opinions about Post-Apocalyptic Literature, Films and Ephemera as well as my random nattering on a regular basis.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Night Work in Review

Have you entered my giveaway yet? Do it, now ... here

Finished Night Work by Thomas Glavinic. At 375 pages it is a bit long and in places got a bit redundant. The premise of the book is that Jonas awakens on July 4th and he is entirely, suddenly, inexplicably alone. The TV shows only snow the radio broadcasts only static. He doesn't think anything is amiss at first and goes to catch the buss to work as normal. It's only when the bus never comes that he realizes that something is terribly wrong.

It's not just that the radio and television is off but there are no people. And not only are there no people there are no animals or insects. Nothing. Only him.

Even though he's alone he feels that he is being watched. So he hatches the plan to get video cameras and film himself sleeping and driving. As the book goes towards the one third mark he is pretty much setting up video cameras and watching the tapes he has made. Tapes that don't show much.

This was a great book, very strange and definitely a 'literature' type book. In other words if it were to show up on the required reading list for a collage course I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I have read a couple books like it and seen movies that were similar. As for the similar book. First has to be The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel (One Planet One Inhabitant: Mass Extermination as Progress). I was never able to finish The Purple Cloud. It got so wordy that I just couldn't hack my way through the lush junglelike sentence structure of the novel. The Purple Cloud is a last man story for sure. But instead of going nuts and filming himself Adam Jeffson simply decides he the King of the World and then promptly goes what can only be described as bat-shit-crazy. Adam (play on the first man pastiche) goes on a World Pyromania Tour. He visits Paris, London, Los Angeles and puts them all to the torch.

I do give kudos to The Purple Cloud for actually having the testicular fortitude to make it a true last man novel. Some authors make you think they are going to but then pull the rug out from under you. Two examples are The Vanished by John Peel and Alone by George Washington Paulin III. The Vanished was an ok book but Alone was terrible. I only mention it because both Alone and Night Work started the same way. Night Work pulled off the concept and Alone failed.
If I had to really nail down what I was most reminded of as I read Night Work I'd have to say it was the film 'The Quiet Earth'. Zack Hobson acted much like Jonas. He goes a bit nuts and has conversations where the only participants are himself.

I enjoyed a couple other aspects of Night Work that weren't apocalyptic. The first was his concept of self. I don't know about anyone else, but I always think about how my little kid self would think about where my today self is in life. Or my teenaged self. I have a picture of myself as a two year old and sometimes I think about all that has happened to the kid in the picture and how that poor bastard has no idea what is in store for him. I guess I just hadn't thought about anyone else thinking about their 'yesterday self' or their 'tomorrow self'. Also I've never attempted to communicate or pass messages to myself as they would exist at different times.

Also like Jonas, when I was younger I'd sometimes think about inanimate object and wonder what they might think about. Did rocks at the beach communicate with other rocks nearby? Did they mourn the loss of a companion if I picked one up and threw it the ocean? If I kicked a rock in storm drain would feel sad that it'd probably never feel the sun again? Separation is a key theme in Night Work.

It's a quirky sort of novel, PA of a sort that I've never seen before. Stayed in mind long after I'd finished. Glad I took the time though.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ménage à Review

This entire post is in response to all the people who claim that Swan Song is a 'rip-off' of The Stand. I say they are wrong and hold that the novel Dark Advent is closer to (albeit not a 'rip-off' of) The Stand With that in mind, I'll be looking at all three books simultaneously first The Stand by Stephen King, second Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon and third Dark Advent by Brian Hodges (the Advent link goes to dead message board but Mr. Hodges posted many times ... interesting stuff too).

First thing is the first impressions of the books.

LengthThe Stand is 1141 pages long.
Swan Song is 956 pages long.
Dark Advent is 448 pages long.

In terms of length alone The Stand and Swan Song are more similar.

Covers The Stand's cover has a guy dressed in white fighting a dude that looks like a crow. Also it fits the book and I'm not left confused.

Swan Song's cover show a giant rift in the earth with the sun setting behind it. A demon's face is superimposed on the sun. Looks like the sun/demonic head could be the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion. Also the cover somewhat fits, even if the demonic head pictured doesn't fit the description of the Man With The Scarlet Eye.

The cover of Dark Advent shows a red faced demon. Inside of the cutaway portion of the cover a screaming girl is visible. This cover makes no sense. It has nothing to do with the contents of the novel. Dark Advent seems to have been the victim of some sort of publishing tomfoolery. Somewhere out there is a novel about a red faced demon and burning school children with the cover for Dark Advent. What cover that might be is beyond me. Perhaps a man with a briefcase would be the most appropriate.

Cause of The End
'The end' in The Stand came from a government experiment in biowarfare. It gets loose in some sort of accident and kills 99.4% of the population. It goes by several nicknames 'Captain Trips' 'Tube Neck' are a couple. More common is the moniker Superflu.

'The end' in Swan Song is complete and total nuclear war. From the description of it a great deal of suspension of disbelief has to be employed as the scenario as portrayed in the first few chapters would be unsurvivable. But since there is a heavy supernatural presence in the novel, it is perhaps reasonable to think that a supernatural guiding force also keeps certain key figures safe.

'The' end in Dark Advent is a souped up version of the bubonic plague. It is not released accidentally nor does it get out of hand when used as a weapon, rather it is released purposefully to kill most of the population.

Basic Conflict
The main conflict in The Stand is Good vs. Evil. A group of people who are more or less good gravitate around the figure of Mother Abigail. The other group, the opposition, align themselves with Randal Flagg, a demon. The group with Abigail don't seem to have a plan for the world that goes further than gathering together and maintaining a rough semblance of the world as used to be: The Constitution, courts. Order I guess. Flagg's group seems to not have a real plan either beyond destroying everyone who isn't a member of their group. Abigail's group ends up in Boulder Colorado and Flagg's group gathers in LasVegas.

In Swan Song the basic struggle is Life vs Death. There are four main groups of people the story follows. Swan's group (Josh, Rusty, Killer the Terrier, and Swan). Swan is Life. She holds the literal power of life in hers hands Sister's group (Just her and Paul) Colonel Macklin's Group (Roland/Sir Roland. Sheila, Colonel Macklin/Shadow Soldier) and The Man With The Scarlet Eye who always walks alone. He is the adversary. Together with Macklin's group ... he is Death. In the end it can be only Swan and He Who Walks Alone in a final battle.

In Dark Advent the basic struggle is between two main groups of people. The story follows Jason Hart, Erika, Caleb, Travis and Peter Soloman with a varied and sundry cast of 'others'. As the story moves on they all coalesce in St. Louis. The team of (for lack of a better descriptor) good guys (Jason Hart, Erika, Caleb, Travis) end up at Brannigan's Department Store and the opposition move into Omni Majestic Hotel.

Poetic Influences
The Stand is pretty heavy with William Butler Yeats' poem The Second Coming. 'Things fall apart; the center cannot hold' and what not.

Swan Song is heavily influenced by The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot. 'I do not find The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.' And so forth.

Dark Advent pays homage to The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe. (yes it's a short story not a poem ... whatever.)

The only song that really came to mind as I read The Stand was Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. It's at the very beginning of the book and sets the tone very well. And on an unrelated note was one of the more brilliant parts of a mostly terrible miniseries.

Swan Song was war, death, and violence. Roland and Macklin are some seriously messed up people. The song I thought of most was War Ensemble by Slayer.

Dark Advent didn't seem to have much musical influence for me. Jason listened to music but nothing really stuck for me.

Sum it Up
I wrote this post because Swan Song and The Stand have been compared way too much. I don't know for certain if I have proven the case here but just trust me, The Stand and Swan Song are both fantastic books but other than the length and the time they came out they are totally different. OK other than dreams being a way for the characters to find each other ... nothing else. Even Dark Advent used 'The Dream' tactic for uniting characters.

This is open to all commenters. All you have to do is say 'hi' and post an e-mail address. The winner will receive a copy of The Stand, Swan Song, Dark Advent and a bonus title. Contest ends February 15th.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A new post soonish ...

I haven't abandoned my blog. I haven't been all that busy either. Thing is before I do any posting I like to write out most posts (and other stuff as well) in my head and I've been having difficulty figuring out what to do. That happens every now and then. I'll get crackin' tomorrow and get my Ménage à Review posted.

In related news: I finished both Night Work and The Pesthouse, Ill get to those soonish too.

All I've heard about The Book Eli is that it's terrible so don't look for a review of here anytime soon. I'll get it with a promo code from Redbox.

Lots more tomorrow. Promise.