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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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ebola Tattoo Week One

So the wrist tattoo was an ok idea. White ink doesn't show up all that well so it'll be difficult to see (that's just fine as since I begin a long term sub gig monday, preschool). Most of the (awful) initial scab fell off today.

It looks ok so far. I'll have to wait until it heals even more (two weeks?)to be able to tell if it needs any touch up. I'm thinking it will though.

More updates as events warrant.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Musical Interlude The Nineteenth

the lights have gone out before
we thought they would
and our friends have left us where we once stood
together, through dark nights and trials, it's true
we must face our fates alone

the summer it burns and the winter it freezes
in our hands we hold everything we believe in
we survive, we have everything we need
and there's nowhere left to go

the hope is the past, it's not ours to own
the ghosts of our past, in shackles they moan
forever, in darkness, broken-hearted, true
they must face their fates alone

scavengers pick the bones of the world
the righteous reduced to beggars and cursed
and never, in trial or verse, will they learn
they must face thier fates alone

Friday, November 19, 2010


This game is currently in beta testing and is only playable by invitation. Premise is you are a member of a town of 40 people. During the day you scavenge and build your town. Every night at 22:30 (or so) the zombie horde lurking outside attack.

So far I'm enjoying it. The only problem is that you start the game with 6 action points. If you get water and food that will give 12 more. You can use 18 action points in about 5 minutes. If you're outside the gates when that happens you're meat. Don't let it happen. The game looks very interesting but if you explore too much it's the end of you.

Got your interest peeked? Want an invite? I got four.

HG5JUYUZ (used)
3HW1VCEB (used)
CGS5SL14 (used)
AYZ5Q9TN (used)

Sponsor: Fear

First come first served. Just let me know in the comments so I change their status. And remember KEEP TRACK OF YOUR AP!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Musical Interlude The Eighteenth

'Too bad they couldn't see this lethal energy
And now the final scene, a global darkening'

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Of Bug Out Bags and Hatchet by Gary Paulson

My post about Hatchet the other day made me hunger to re-read Hatchet. Not only is it a damn fine book, the bag Brian finds in the plane in Chapter 19 is a pretty good example of the basic equipment you'd need for a Bug Out Bag. Or at least I think so anyway.


Unbelievable riches. He could not believe the contents of the survival pack.

The night before he was so numb with exhaustion he couldn't do anything but sleep. All day in the water had tired him so much that, in the end, he had fallen asleep sitting against his shelter wall, oblivious to even the mosquitoes, to the night, to anything. But with false grey dawn he had awakened, instantly and begun to dig in the pack - to find amazing wonderful things.

There was a sleeping bag - which he hung to dry over his shelter roof on the outside - and foam sleeping pad. An aluminum cookset with four little pots and two frying pans; it actually had a fork and knife and spoon. A waterproof container with matches and two small butane lighters. A sheath knife with a compass in the handle. As if a compass would help him, he thought, smiling. A first-aid kit with bandages and tubes of antiseptic paste and small scissors. A cap with CESSNA across the front in large letters. Why a cap? he wondered. It was adjustable and he put it on immediately. A fishing kit with four coils of line, a dozen small lures, and hook and sinkers.

Incredible wealth. It was like all the holidays in the world, all the birthdays there were. He sat in the sun by the doorway where he had dropped the night before and pulled the presents - as he thought of them - out one at a time to examine them, turn them in the light, touch them and feel them with his hands and eyes.

Something that at first puzzled him. He pulled out what seemed to be the broken-off bulky stock of a rifle and he was going to but it aside, thinking it might be for something else in the pack, when he shook it and it rattled. After working at it a moment he found the butt of the stock came off and inside there was a barrel and magazine and action assembly, with a clip and a full box of fifty shells. It was a .22 survival rifle - he had seen one once in the sporting goods store where he went for bike parts - and the barrel screwed onto the stock. He had never owned a rifle, never fired one, but he had seen them on television, of course, and after a few moments figured out how to but it together by screwing the action onto the stock, how to load it and put the full clip of bullets into the action.


And then finally - the food.

It was all freeze-dried and in such quantity that he though, With this I could live forever. Package after package he took out, beef dinner with potatoes, cheese and noodle dinners, chicken dinners, egg and potato breakfasts, fruit mixes, drink mixes, dessert mixes, more dinners and breakfasts than he could count easily, dozens and dozens of them all packed in waterproof bags, all in perfect shape and when he had them laid against the wall in stacks he couldn't stand it and went through them again.'

So that looks to me like a nice basic Bug Out Bag. I think the sleeping bag and the food would be the most bulky items. I bet you could find a lightweight down type sleeping bag and if all the food was dehydrated it would be doable. Just my thoughts as I read the ending again is all.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Plague War by Jeff Carlson

Ruth, Cam and Newcomb were miles beyond any hint of green. The plague had been catastrophic in this place. Even the weeds and hardy sagebrush were dead. All that stood were a few stubs of windswept roots. Several times they'd seen the desiccated remains of grass and wildflowers laid on the ground like stains, brittle and black. In the heat, the insects had been destroyed, which in turn condemned the reptiles and the vegetation. Lacking any balance whatsoever, the biosphere had tipped. The earth baked into powder and superheated the air.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Apocalypse Now Burger

'Each apocalyptic patty draws its strength from four cuts of meat: beef brisket, beef shortrib, pork belly and bacon ends.'

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson

Ruth gazed all around, gripped by dark wonder.

The frozen traffic here surged only one way - west, toward the freeway, every car nosing into the next. They came up onto sidewalks. They diverted through parking lots and hedges and fences. They were full of stick shapes, and the crowded street itself had become the grave of hundreds, color-fast rags on yellowing bone, screaming jaws and eroded fingers, the skeletons of dogs and birds scattered among the human remains like strange half-grown monsters.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Hunger Games, Battle Royale and Deus Ex Machina

Once more it's excuse time. I know, I know been forever since an update. I have good reasons for this. The best is that I tackled The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and that simply fired my thirst for more in a similar vein. So I started reading my Battle Royale manga series. I just finished it last night. I had really intended to do a retrospective of all three 'Hunger Games' books but as soon as I got just a couple chapters into Battle Royale I knew I had to do a comparison. So of course any update needed to wait until I had completed a three-part series and a fifteen part series. Long time in other words.

The other is that I've started back subbing. This year I've made a deal with myself that is different that last year's. Last year a rotten day with the lil' bastards equaled a day for me. No work just day drinking. This year's deal is different. A rotten day equals jeans and a t-shirt the next day and also that check is set aside for airfare and happy-fun-Hawaii time. An extraordinarily rotten day (only one so far) gets the same treatment but the check is cashed and not deposited. I'll be spending every penny of it on beers and Mai Tais on the beach if at all possible. I've been living seven and a half hours of hell everyday so I can have nine days in paradise. A decent trade I think.

So yeah, not much time to read or create new and fantastic posts. But plenty of time to punish my liver. You can see the dilemma right?

Alright. Now on to the show. From here on there will be spoilers. Big ones. Don't read the post any further if you've not read the complete Hunger Games trilogy, Battle Royale, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Hatchet by Gary Paulson, Death Got No Mercy by Al Ewing and Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Seriously, stop now.

When I picked up The Hunger Games I knew what I was in for. I'd heard about the series from other people. Also being a substitute teacher I've seen 'the kids' carrying these books like they carried Twilight or Harry Potter. I knew it was gold. I got the second one from (if you feel up to joining tell them I sent you when they ask 'Fear-Death-By-Water') I got The Hunger Games from the library sale in St. Helens Oregon just before I brewed the Dinty Moore (Wasteland) Stout. I had to wait still though. I mean I love reading post apocalyptic books but if I can get someone to send it to me for free? Hell no, I'm not going to pay for it. I had to wait a little while for the book but I'm a patient sort. Then came the glorious day when I got the e-mail telling me it was on the way. I took on the Hunger Games series like I took on Harry Potter. All at once.

The books are in a distant future type setting after some sort of global cataclysm. What remains of the United States is divided into 13 districts (like The Original Colonies?) then is regrouped and coalesces around 'The Capital' and finally lead by a dictator. Perhaps a benevolent one at the start. All is pretty good until there is an uprising and civil war. The Capital is victorious at the end and as punishment completely obliterates the 13th District and sets up a lottery system. The 'winner' of the lottery (one boy and one girl ... also a Shirley Jackson ripoff? ) are sent to an arena and are forced to fight to the death. The killing cannot stop until there is only a single child remaining.

The book follows Katniss. On the day of the drawing it's expected that it will be her who gets chosen. But it's not it's her little sister instead. Even though it's her first time at the lottery, even though she has her name in only once, it's still her. Katniss utilizes a little used play. She takes her little sister's place. The male who's chosen turns out to Peeta who Katniss had pretty much ignored but who had a giant crush on her pretty much forever. So he knows that to survive he'll have to kill her or he could be magnanimous and allow her to kill him. Either way he knows he'll never see her again.

That's the basic set up. 12 districts and two kids from each. 24 kids enter one kid leaves. Thunderdome to power of four and a half. But filmed and broadcast to the entire population. For entertainment. It's a lot like a mix of both Steven King's The Long Walk and The Running Man. As the book plays out you can feel the ultimate climax coming. Katniss and Peeta both going to be forced to do battle. It's also clear that Katniss will be victorious. The only question remaining is how graphic, bloody and violent will it be?

Then it happens: Collins cheats. Just like Gary Paulson did in Hatchet: Brian finds the radio transponder in the plane crash and gets rescued just before winter sets in. Just like Richard Adams did in Watership Down: After Hazel is grievously wounded in a cat attack Adams writes himself into the story to rescue the stricken rabbit. Adams is not the only author to ever use the 'write myself in the story' tactic. Stephen King does it for eye-rolling length in The Dark Tower series and even Al Ewing gives it a shot in Death Got No Mercy (although I'll give him a pass on all of chapter 18, but only because Cade was on serious drugs). Even Susan Beth Pfeffer in Life As We Knew It. When Miranda goes on her death march to town so her mom won't have to look at her withered corpse, she finds that food is being distributed. She is saved from starvation at the very last moment when she notices a brightly colored piece of paper. The difference the separates the previous books? All those books are great in spite of the trickery.

Sure, you can give all these cheats big fancy names like deus ex machina and say it's a solid and viable literary device and that even the Greeks used it to get out of tight jams in their plays. But for me? It just derails the whole book when used with too heavy a hand. Collins cheated by having President Snow proclaim (when there was still something like seven players remaining) if two tributes from the same district survived at the end both lived. I wanted to jump up and shout 'HE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE COCKADOODIE CAR!' Right then I knew I'd been robbed of any sort of heart wrenching climax.

As more characters die it drops down to just three. After a brutal death it's just two. Of course it's Katnis and Peeta. This is the part the whole book has lead up to. But it's taken from me either because Collins is a wuss or because the publisher had a weak stomach. Either way it was a giant let down.

I continued to read the rest of the series but it just continued on in much the same way. I had thought that the real ending would be a showdown between President Snow and Katnis. I felt it all building, coming at me like a wave. But at the end the showdown was anticlimactic. Remember the day you lit the big firecracker? You touched the match to the fuse and then stepped back. The fuse smoked and sparked and went pretty fast. Then it slowed down. Seemed to stop. But you knew that it would still have that giant payoff. So you waited. And waited. When the fuse hit the firework you expected ... no demanded the explosion. What you got instead was more akin to an overgrown sparkler. A roman candle at best. Remember your disappointment so keen it almost felt like betrayal? That's the feeling I got from The Hunger Games Trilogy. After a year of waiting just a big fizzle and a giant nothing.

Around the same time I was hearing about The Hunger Games, I was also hearing some chatter about a book called 'Battle Royale'. Talk was it's pretty similar. After I finished The Hunger Games my appetite had been whetted and so I dove in. Let me tell up front here. Everything you wanted from The Hunger Games happens in Battle Royale. Koushun Takami pulls no punches.

This novel pits an entire class of ninth graders against each other. 48 total students. The rules are simple. You are fitted with an explosive collar and sent to an island. Any attempt to leave the island and the collar detonates. Try to remove the collar and it detonates. Enter (or fail to evacuate) a danger zone and the collar detonates. Here's the real kicker: failure to have a single student death in a 24 hour period and the collars all detonate simultaneously.

So those are the rules. The class is a random group (or are they?) who are drugged and taken to an island. The island is fitted with cameras and satellite observation. When they get there the students are all issued a duffel bag containing food, water, a randomly assigned weapon (from a fork all the way to an AK-47) and other items of interest. Then they are sent to kill to the last person.

Some differences between the two book are that the Head of School is the 'bad guy' and that there are more children. It's also worse because many are dating each other and have been together since they began school. Many are best friends in other words.

It's the differences that make the book better than the The Hunger Games however. The ending is extremely satisfying. It ends just how you want it to. There are no tricks. No fancy camera work. The author makes you care about many different characters and isn't afraid to kill them off in gruesome ways.

Also it made more sense too. The whole event was broadcast in The Hunger Games and the whole time I was watching it I kept wondering why the rest of the world wasn't outraged by it. Live video of children killing each other? Bets placed on it? I was wondering where the rest of the planet was. That question is answered in Battle Royale.

In Battle Royale there were plenty shocks and lots of carnage, but unlike The Hunger Games not once did I pull back and think 'how the hell is that possible?' There was a fascinating dichotomy playing out in The Hunger Games. On the one hand the residents of the districts were eking out a just-above-starvation lifestyle while the residents in the Capital had glass roads and Star Trek style food simulators. They could genetically modify insects into weapons. They even had cloaking devices for their hovercraft. Magic in other words. Some of it was so outlandish and strange that it interrupted my suspension of disbelief. The final offensive against The Capital at the end of Mockingjay was frankly unbelievable, headshakingly out-of-control. Battle Royale did none of that.

That's it folks. If you were disappointed and/or bored with The Hunger Games give Battle Royale a go. Seriously, if you've read The Hunger Games you owe it to yourself. It's an undiscovered gem.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An apcalyptic birthday/christmas list

It's that time of year again. I get a year older and relatives begin to hint about suggestions as to what I might enjoy seeing wrapped in pretty paper. There are a couple things that would make The Bookshelves Of Doom just a little bit sparklier. So here goes (I'll even make it simple and clickable):


The Killing Moon by Rod Glenn
Canterbury 2100: Pilgrimages in a New World
LAST by Mike Rouse-Deane
End of Days: An Apocalyptic Anthology
End of Days 2: An Apocalyptic Anthology
Survivors by Terry Nation
Wet Work - The Definitive Edition by Philip Nutman, Douglas, E. Winter
Noise by Darin Bradley
The Walk by Lee Goldberg
Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
The High King of Montival (Change, Bk 4) by S. M. Stirling


The Road
The Book of Eli
Battle Royale


Stephen King's The Stand Vol. 1: Captain Trips
Stephen King's The Stand Vol. 2: American Nightmares