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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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finished 'Wolf and Iron'

OK. I changed my mind. The first go 'round went poorly. I divorced the book on page 288. I did it because of the wolf. I just got bogged down with the wolf. For some reason this time around I didn't notice the wolf so much. I viewed it as more a secondary character.

Although I didn't have the same problems I had when I first read it, other problems did rear their collective heads. There was pretty much no violence (well pretty much none that was directed at Jeebee). I kept expecting Jeebee to get into a fight of some type with neighbors. A bit of back story is needed here I think. Further back in the book Jeebee meets up with Paul and his crew who pilot an armored Conestoga Wagon. Jeebee rides with and learns the bulk of his survival skills from them. He takes his leave to continue 'The Quest' for his older brother and a safe place to store his massive cranial knowledge. When he does the final thought Paul leaves Jeebee with is to be careful on the hunt for food. He says whatever you do, DO NOT kill any farmer's cattle. Seems they tend to get a bit pissed off when people russell their live stock. Later on Jeebee finds a burnt out ranch (where he finds books about wolves). He goes up into the hills and finds a cave. He widens it and makes a home of it. Not too long after he gets hungry and goes strait for ... cows. I kept expecting for a neighboring rancher to eventually move in and lay claim to any surviving livestock as well as any salvage from the ranch proper. I bet they would have done this because they were close friends. NEVER HAPPENED! Jeebee just goes on killing a cow a day and nothing happens. He survives two bear attacks but never is given a chance to test his metal against an invading pissed off horde who want to string him up. I bet the story would been have more entertaining had Mr. Dickson taken that route.

Also the ending just sucked ass. Normally I can see the ending looming and prepare myself for it. Like in Blindness. I saw that ending roaring at me like a locomotive. The deal with Blindness is that the ending made a lot of sense. The ending to Wolf and Iron was ... well just lame and disappointing.

Wolf and Iron is the definition of the 'cosy catastrophe' genera. If for some reason you plugged that term into google and even more improbably have read this entire post, just trust me here: the plot of Wolf and Iron is a prototypical cosy catastrophe.

Bit of a side step here. This book comes from a short story called 'In Iron Years'. I mistakenly assumed that it was 'The Stand' to 'The Stand Uncut'. I was wrong so wrong. It was 'Night Surf' to 'The Stand Uncut'. Look into it, you'll see what I mean.

What annoys me most here is that Harry Frank Ph.D. wasn't mad about a wolf being portrayed as having dog-like characteristics. He was angry that the picture on the font of the book was of a wolf yet the animal inside was more a German Shepard type dog. I wish someone had instead pointed out that a .30-06 looks nothing like an AK-47. Imagine the book that may have resulted.

So to sum it up: you are correct ft_ball_fn from the PA Media Forums, it's a great book. I did in fact get sucked into it and perhaps read it too much. All this sort of makes me want to get Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel out and give it another go too.


ft_ball_fn said...


I'm glad you liked Iron and Wolf on the second try (although from your analysis it sounds like you still struggled with it).

I agree its a book you have to 'suspend reality' for in some parts to just take it at face value without digging too deeply... (like you said--no one wanted free roaming cows--yeah right). I really enjoyed your review.

How did you like Autumn? I added it to my Netflix que...

Your blog is great--not only entertaining and great book reviews, but also a great source of PA content.


Anonymous said...

The burnt out ranch as well as the surrounding area had been hit by nomadic raiders recently. Thus the cows were not likely to be claimed by any surviving local rancher and safer to hunt. I found the point of the book dealt more with the avoidance of violence by Jeebee and the wolf as the straightest course to survival and a pattern of behavior that will continue to support survival. Most of the violence and hardship comes from arbitrary happenstance and dreaded necessity rather than the heroic righting of wrongs by a super heroic character going on a warpath. I know this makes for less exciting adventure. I kind of thought the wolf zen of a surviving apex predator's tried and true instincts as thematic for the survive another day and plan for the future story arc.

Fear Death By Water said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I guess JeeBee was on the lookout for a safe place he could survive and pass his knowledge onto a future generation. The cave, the livestock and any salvage from the burnt ranch would have filled that want/need nicely.