The internet, in all it’s messy democratic glory, has opened up the door for not only the exploration of new formats of storytelling but also to once explore formats of old. The notion of the “serial” is nothing new from Dickens,to radio, to television, to comics it is a long lived means of telling a story. In the 21st century the proliferation of the internet, and particularly its mobility, have opened the floodgates for the serial’s return. Sean Platt and David W. Wright are the founders of Collective Inkwell where they have focused on telling serialized stories. Recently, the duo signed a deal with Amazon’s 47North which is how I came to stumble upon the audiobook version of Yesterday’s Gone: Season 1.
I snagged Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin when it was a Kindle daily deal and decided it would a be good time to try out Amazon’s Whispersync Voice. Ice Forged is a strange mash-up of genres that peaked my interest when I saw Gail Martin’s guest post about the novel over at Fantasy Book Critic. In her article Martin discusses the genesis of her novel and the notion that Ice Forged takes the premise of an apocalyptic novel and transposes it from its modern setting to a medieval fantasy world. In Ice Forged the loss of power and utilities (as you would see in a “modern” postapocalyptic novel) is replaced by the disruption of magic which in the world of Ice Forged has seeped its way into the everyday lives of most people.
Wool: Omnibus Edition
Hugh Howey’s Wool might not have the most descriptive of the titles but over the course of several short novels its double meaning becomes readily apparent and rather fitting; even if it might be a little off-putting. This title was recommended to me by a friend and a little research revealed the self-published title, now in omnibus form, was optioned for film by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian and has been picked out by Random House UK for publication in hardcover in 2013. In this post-apocalyptic novel readers are introduced to a society of humans living in what seems to be a silo transformed into an underground habitation. One hundred levels the deep the people of this silo are focused on living their lives on surviving below ground. In those instances when dissatisfaction, or even optimism about the outside world, occurs the people are given what they want: the chance to go outside.
Rot & Ruin
Simon and Schuster, 2010
At first glance it might be easy to peg Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin as just another zombie novel. However, doing so does this teen-centric title a huge disservice. Rot & Ruin for all its violence and actions manages to tell a fascinating and emotionally engaging story about life after the rise of the undead. The novel focuses on the life of young Benny Imura. Benny, about to turn 15, must find a job or have his rations cut by half. His utter dislike of his zombie hunting older brother Tom sees him trying to find somewhere, anywhere else, to work. Unfortunately for Benny (or so he thinks) circumstances force him to take an apprenticeship under his brother.
Ashes of the Earth
This review kicks of a trio of post-apocalyptic reviews. Sometimes I just get a craving for post-apocalyptic fiction. Unfortunately, and this no slight to two excellent novels, two of said post-apocalyptic novels are zombie novels. In truth I prefer my apocalypses zombie free but when beggers can’t always be choosers. Anyway the novel I’m about review isn’t at all zombie related. Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison is subtitled a Post-Apocalyptic Mystery and it falls squarely into the mystery genre. Pattison previous authored two historical mysteries set in colonial America, Eye of the Raven and Bone Rattler, and I get the distinct impression that those to earlier novels certainly help inform Ashes of the Earth.
Ashes of the Earth takes place after war has left America (and presumable the rest of the planet) a husk of its former self and focuses on a struggling community called Carthage. The story follows the embittered and dissident founding father of Carthage, Hadrian Boone, as he attempts to solve the murder of his mentor. Nuclear and biological weapons employed in the past have left even later generations suffering and Carthage long ago exiled these unwanted to shantytown long ago and is amongst these exiles, and even further, that Hadrian’s journey takes him.
Gollancz, 2003 (reprint, orig. 1969)
I am an unabashed fan of Zelazny’s Amber books, yes I even love the second series starring Merlin, but other than Amber I am far too under-read when it comes to Zelany’s body of work. Last year, when tracking down post-apocalyptic novels to read I came across Zelazny’s Damnation Alley, purchased a used copy, then promptly forgot about it on a bookshelf. I noticed the bright yellow spine of the Gollancz SF paperback and decided finally give it a go.
Damnation Alley is a post-apocalyptic action novel where convicted Hell’s Angel member Hell Tanner is offered a pardon in return for running the titular Damnation Alley. Loaded up in an armed and armored car Hell has to head from L.A. to Boston to deliver a cargo of antiserum. Crossing the entire country while skirting radioactive craters and dealing with horridly mutated monstrosities that populate the former United States.
If I were browsing CDs in a store and came across Steelwing’s Lord of the Wasteland it would have been album I bought on cover art alone.
I mean it has a robot vulture and a badass muscle car loaded with guns! It is ridiculous. It is awesome. It displays a sense of fun that the metal world doesn’t always show. If you haven’t guessed this is something of a concept album, though not the sort of epic over-the-top ridiculous other bands will go for, but a wild ride full of foot-stomping, head-banging post-apocalyptic metal. If it wasn’t obvious this 80s influenced band is part of the “New Wave of Traditional Metal” (NWOTHM) alongside groups like Enforcer, Holy Grail, White Wizzard, and others. This is the kind of metal designed for summer days driving down the highway with the stereo cranked up to 11. If you’re looking for fast, furious, epic metal with a large dose of fun Steelwing are the dudes for you!
Day by Day Armageddon
J. L. Bourne
Permuted Press, 2007 (now available through Pocket Books as of 2009, linked at left)
Day by Day Armageddon was one of the earliest title released by Permuted Press, an independent publisher specializing in apocalyptic fiction (and especially zombie fiction), and was recently re-released as part of 5 book co-publishing deal with Simon and Schuster. Much like the fantastic World War Z, Day by Day Armageddon purports itself to be a true-to-life diary of man surviving a zombie apocalypse. The edition I read is complete with the occasional blood splatter, circled text, infrequent handwritten margin notes, and black and white photographs. The diary, of an unnamed navy pilot, details his attempts to simply survive.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
First Line: My mother used to tell me about the ocean.
Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a post-apocalyptic bildungsroman…with zombies. Mary is teen living in an a village surrounded by the titular forest. The world as we know it is gone as an unexplained event has given birth to the Unconsecrated (zombies) and hordes of undead seemed to have caused society to collapse. Mary’s village has no contact outside the fence the protects its borders and whose values and knowledge are dictated by a stern and religious order of Sisters. A series of events unfold and the fences are breached sending Mary and a handful of others on the run towards the desperate dream of the ocean; only half-remembered by Mary through stories her mother used to tell.
I’ll say this before I go on, since talking at length about this novel is difficult to do without some spoilers, if you’re looking for a taught, tense, and chilling tale of growing up in isolation with the constant threat of death (death that might wear a familiar face) beating on a thin fence every day then The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a novel worth checking out.