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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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

A lidded eye of moon was hanging over the tree line, like a child's toy suspended on a wire, a smiling moon face dangling above a baby's crib. Its light spilled over a landscape of ashes, everything dying, the world's living surface peeled away to reveal the rocky core of it all. Like a stage set, Wolgast thought, a stage set for the end of all things, all memories of things.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pale - Catastrophic Skies

Their sound is a bit hokey but this video kicks some serious ass.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Musical Interlude The Thirteenth

London calling to the zombies of death

this world we live in

"It's hard to lose friends," he said.
I figured that meant we could start biking again. "Have you lost friends, too?" I asked.
"Everyone has," he said.
I thought that was a pretty lousy answer. He could have consoled me for my losses or he could have told me about his, but to point out the whole world is a rotten stinking mass of death didn't make me feel any better.

- Miranda

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Is it wrong to enjoy reading about a giant mound of frozen bodies while you're relaxing on Laguna Beach? I don't know, maybe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Dead And The Gone II

"New York City is under quarintine because of the flu," the cop said. "No one allowed in or out of the city ."
"Until when?" Alex asked. "For how long?"
"The cop shrugged. "Until it runs its course," he said. "Or until everyone in the country gets it so it won't matter anymore. Or until we all die. Take your pick."

And also I was reading the book when a song came on the radio that matched perfectly. Funny how that happens idn't it? Anyhow this one was when Alex was at the church sort of at the end. I won't tell you why he went there. That'd ruin it for you. Anyhow it was a song by Crystal Method. Here you go.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

"Are things going to get worse?" Julie asked, and Alex could hear the suppressed panic in her voice.
"Yeah, I think so," Alex said. "If you can believe that."
"I don't want to eat rats," Julie said. "Or dead people."
"Me neither," Alex said. "Let's get going so we won't have to."

This song isn't PA but it made sense to me when it played on the radio as I was reading about the old parishioners Alex was checking in on and how he thought they may have suffocated. Here it is:

The Cosy Catastrophe and Neena Gathering

The main elements for the cosy catastrophe are few a relatively simple.

First: some disaster has to have occurred. Some people don't dicker and will accept any disaster even a localised one as acceptable. Not me I take a pretty hard line. I need for event to have been world wide and nearly uniformly lethal. So that's the first rule: a cataclysm of global and uniformly fatal proportions. Any less than that is a glorified version of 'The Towering Inferno'. The Rift by Jon Williams is the perfect example to illustrate this.

Second: A small group (can consist of only two) survivors begin to coalesce. Sometimes they attempt to recreate the rules and norms of the society that lies rotting all around them. Other times they make their own strange and unusual customs. Some definitions will say the survivors need to be white middle class types who simply want to recreate the world so they continue to be maintained in the lifestyle they had been accustomed to. These people are wrong.

Third: Nothing fatal happens to any of the main characters. They can get sick, be hungry, or injure themselves and it still falls into the category of the Cosy Catastrophe as long as none of these things cause their death.

A quick refresher about how to determine the main character should be done here. In my Introduction to Literature class I took my first year at WOU, Gavin Keulks (Best. English Professor. Ever) taught us that to find the main character ask yourself the question: Who changes? Sometimes it's hard to tell, especially when the book has a very large cast like The Stand. If you apply the 'who changes' test to The Stand, you end up with: (1) Harold Lauder who goes from being the guy in high school who is both too smart and too nice (so girls all stay at 20 foot pole range) to being an enormous douche, (2) Larry Underwood who goes from a self-obsessed almost famous type to being totally and completely self sacrificing, (3) Frannie Goldsmith who goes from being a little girl in grown-up's body; a little spoiled to being an honest-to-goodness leader, (4) Nadine Cross who goes from being a fairly nice lady who teaches kindergarten and cares for people in general to aligning herself with Harold (after he'd gone around the bend) and ultimately being impregnated with hell spawn. She does get the good-sexy-fun-time quote. She says it to Harold, that's right nerdy, greazy and painfully shy Harold gets one of the best line in the book. She says 'coffee, tea ... or me?'

My original point was about cosy catastrophes. The use of the book The Stand was simply to illustrate a book many people say fits in the category but it really doesn't. It has the first two but not the last. Fatal turn of events happen to all but one of the main characters. The ending of the uncut version has all the hallmarks of a cosy catastrophe if it were continued, but in general it's apocalyptic in nature.

The Question Of Reading Apocalyptic Fiction

The question has been posed many times on at least two different forums. Why do you enjoy reading PA? Is it purely because you want to live in devastated world where rules do not apply? Is it that you want to throw off the shackles of The Man and live in a world were the rules no longer apply? Do you enjoy living vicariously because you loathe your rotten work-a-day existence? Or is that you hate humans and would like to live in world where 90%+ have been turned to rotting (but but not zombified) flesh?

The answer is because I FUCKING HATE PEOPLE! Most of them anyhow. I have been married for eleven years but have no children. The best free birth control exits in two places. In my neck of the woods these places were once in the same place. These places are Walmart and McDonald's. A visit to either one of these places at about 5pm will result in you be a specieist. Yes you too will have an adverse reaction to the proximity of any Homo sapiens. People are terrible. In the words of The Joker from Batman 'this town needs an enema'. But I'd replace town with world.

I looked and looked but the essay I wanted to use to illustrate my point here is one I couldn't find. The point of it was sort of an indictment of people who think they'll survive the end. It pretty much said: "you will die. and your death will be neither fast nor painless. you do not want this. if you live live you'll wish you hadn't" So yeah although I don't want to live in post-apocalyptic world I do sort of think about it. Another big point the lost essay had was the scenarios involved in survival. If you live through a nuclear war then all the water, food even the air is poisoned. So you survive only to die slowly and painfully. If you survive contagion then you have mounds of rotting corpses to deal with. Even if diseases from the unburied dead wouldn't be as big a problem as some would have you think, or at least according to this article, you still have the problem of millions of fetid, pungent dead people.

Now if I did survive (and the odds really are against that) I'd hope to do so in a cosy catastrophe. Hence the name of this blog. I prefer my catastrophic event to be one where I'd still be able to enjoy a beer and a good steak. I've said I don't care for people and I don't so if unpleasant or fatal things happened I'd prefer they happen to someone who is not associated with me.

Neena Gathering by Valerie Nieman Colander

The world of Neena Gathering is the perfect PA world. It's one that's been done many times by many different authors. Same type of world that was in Wolf and Iron by Gordon R. Dickson and in Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Some terrible things happen but they never happen to me or to my family. Life may not be exactly comfortable but no one bursts in to take what's yours and then eat you.

That's Neena Gathering. Don't get me wrong it's a great book and I'm glad I took the time the read it. As the story begins The United States has had some sort of civil war. And lost. All that remains are city states. No mention is given about the war that brought this about but it's not important anyway. After the war ends and Washington DC in defeated the city states wage war on each other. It's pretty brutal apparently. But again no real details are given. Also it's not important.

The important thing is the weapons used against the other on both sides. They were called 'Metachemicals'. Again not much was told about these chemicals. I guess they are nearly uniformly fatal. They get into your DNA and change you. What these changes were are again not described. The important thing is a) not everyone exposed to the chemicals died from it and b) some people got away from the cities unharmed.

The people who lived are not only 'Changed' (again not really discribed much) but are ostracized as well.

There are some pretty good apocalyptic scenes in the book, piles of bodies and war. Overall the book is well written to. Valerie Nieman Colander is apparently a poet of some note and the style of her writing is polished and lyrical. Just as you'd expect a novel written by a poet to be.

The book is a prototypical cosy catastrophe. You keep expecting bad things to happen but everyone in the book is fine. The main conflict is between Neena, her uncle and Arden the Change. It's a love triangle. Her uncle is a pretty violent man who may or may not have had a hand in producing the Metachemicals. Arden is one who was forever scarred by those same chemicals. Neena is a girl just flowering into womanhood. You'd expect some sort of violence to break out. Nope. It's a cosy catastrophe.

Marauders or on the loose. They of course take what they want. They never come near Neena or anyone else.

A violent band of religious fanatics as well are on the loose. They convert people and then to make sure you stay in a state of grace ritualistically execute you.

Last though to this giant rambling post. I am curious about living in a post apocalyptic world but only if I'm guaranteed to survive and then survive in world like in Neena Gathering or Wolf and Iron or even Life As We Knew It.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Life As We Knew It

"No, I think it was Friday," Maggie replied "Remember, Friday we lost ten people and we thought it was the worst of it. Then Saturday we lost seventeen. But I think he was on Friday."

"I'm pretty sure it was Saturday," the first woman said. "Doesn't matter, does it? He's dead. Just about everyone is."

-Maggie and Linda the nurses

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Musical Interlude The Twelfth

you must have forgot just who you were dealing with
nothing less than aggression so naked
so crystal clear with a
trust in absolutely fucking nothing but Doomtree

Hip Hop this time yo.

Catching Up

Battle Circle by Piers Anthony

Battle Circle took me forever to finish. Now I have several great reasons for this. Reason the first is that this book is actually an omnibus. It has all of the books in a trilogy included within. In other words it wasn't a single book; it was three. All three of these books were normal-sized-novel type books. Three. Of. Them. Also the paper was almost bible-thin. And the font was tiny.

Those things, however, were the least of my problems. I was reading this book in fits and starts in and around researching, conducting, reading, note taking and then the actual writing of my thesis.

Also on a slightly different note this was the first PA book I've read that I actually wished I had one of those nifty cloth book covers. You know the ones they sell to ladies to hide the cover of bodice rippers so they can read them embarrassment free in public. My brother-in-law gave me a fair amount of shit based on the latently homosexual nature of the cover. I've mentioned in passing many times that I am a teacher. For the past several years I've been a sub or in lay terms, a glorified baby sitter. The only other book I've read that made me wish for the stealth cover was The Dying by Leslie Horvitz. But that was because the book cover was terrifying to kindergartners as opposed to extremely embarrassing.

Back on point here. The first book was called Sos the Rope. This book was one of those PA books where the end happened so long in the past that it is nearly forgotten. The denizens of the book called the event that left the world as they knew it 'The Blast'. There was no back story to the event. Nothing related as to why or when or how many. All that is really told is that The Blast happened and destroyed everything. Society after that fractured into three different groups.

The first group who live at the mountain are called Halicon. When The Blast happened they got bulldozers and pushed the rubble of the cities into a giant pile hollowed it out and lived in it. They were scientists and were mostly intent on keeping the technology of the the 'Pre-Blast' world alive. Things seemed to work wonderfully for them 'till they discovered they had left out something pretty crucial. They neglected to bring enough women. They fix that problem in a very scientific way, I guess.

The scientists at Halicon thought they were totally alone and were the only survivors of The Blast. They are wrong. Two more groups survived in the outside world. They are the Nomads and the Crazies. The Crazies (who are not related to the older George Romero film or it's more ill advised remake) keep the knowledge from the Pre-Blast time. Their actions make no sense to anyone who is not them so they must be crazy. Who reads books or is even interested in learning to read anyway?

The third group are Nomads. These guys (even though they are barbarians) are the real glue that holds this entire civilization together. They have this bazaar code. The society is pretty much non-violent and fairly peaceful. Except for in The Circle. "There are no manners in The Circle only victory defeat." In other words they are nice and mostly well mannered but when they step into The Circle they fight until someone gives up, leaves The Circle or dies.

All these groups are very closely tied together, symbiotic relationship close. The Crazies seem to know about it and Halicon orchestrates the whole thing. The Nomads however have no idea about the connection. The Crazies are the keepers of book knowledge but they were also farmers. The residents of Halicon have some hydroponics but their main responsibility is crafting quality weapons. Now all the machines in 'The Mountain' are all run on nuclear power. So they run forever and the raw material for all things they make (most of them for use in The Circle) is what The Mountain is made of, because it's made of the remains of a large city. Never ending energy and raw materials. So the Crazies trade with Halicon for weapons. Then they take the weapons and some of the food and stock 'hostels' with both.

There is so much to this trilogy I don't think I'll ever be done with the synopsis. Anyhow the last thing before I wrap this up. The names are weird too. So your dad's name is Tor (it's always CVC, consonant vowel consonant for those nonteacher types). Your name would be Tori no matter if you were a boy or a girl. Boys when they reach manhood (manhood = win first fight in The Circle) you choose a new CVC name for yourself plus add the weapon you used to win the fight. So that's why you end up with Sos the Rope. Also if you use the weapon anywhere else but in The Circle the Crazies stop putting more food and weapons in the hostels. So is you don't play nice you starve.

Last thing before I end this thing. The best book of them all was Neq the Sword. Way more more depravity. More of the PA goodness I love so much. The best scene in the book is during Var the Stick. He is on an epic quest when he meets a bunch of women. They live in a giant hive and the regular females call themselves 'Workers' the men are 'Drones' and the one in charge is the 'Queen'. It reminded me a lot of Thundarr the Barbarian for some reason. Seems like the sort of hijinks he'd get up to.

So that's it. Battle Circle was extraordinarily long but not boring. Also not all that absorbing. Well Neq the Sword was verging on greatness. Anyhow it's a good read and when you're done, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you did.

Next up Neena Gathering and The Pack. But later.