The Guard by Peter Terrin is translated from the dutch by David Colmer centerting on two security guards, Harry and Michel, who are stationed in a high security apartment building offering hotel-like services to the wealth and the elite. One day the residents, seemingly all but one, leave almost en masse leaving Harry and Michel to their lonely posts. I knew nothing about this novel going in but its jacket flap hinted at something a bit post-apocalyptic so I decided to give it a shot. The story unfolds across numerous short chapters, sometimes less than a couple of a paragraphs, as both Harry and Michel ruminate on their position, on the possibility of promotion, and very rarely on the residents of their strange charge.
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.
Some books have a distinct message. Some books are just out to have fun. Some books are just out to tell an interesting story. In my experience more often than not novels with a dystopian and frequently post-apocalyptic aspect tend to borrow heavily from that first goal. A Canticle for Leibowitz looks at the inevitability of mankind’s self destruction, Earth Abides looks at the removal of social barriers and shift of historical memory over time, Level 7 looks at the notion of mutually assured destruction, while books like Swan Song and The Stand take the apocalypse to look at classic battle of good versus evil. There are countless others many falling into the realm of cautionary tales. However, post-apocalyptic fiction can just as easily be used to tell pure adventure stories such as Zelazny’s Damnation Alley or the Mad Max films. Brian Evenson’s Immobility is a strange mix of several of these elements. Set in a post-apocalyptic society couched in the airs of a dystopia yet at the same time a novel of discovery and confusion.
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.
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!
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.
The Human Disguise
The jacket discription of O’Neal’s debut novel The Human Disguise reads like it is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic noir story. It had me really excited. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed when the novel turned out be more of an action-thriller and I had radically adjust my expectations and try my hardest to enjoy the novel for what it was rather than what I hoped it to be.
America is a shell of herself, her borders closed, ravaged by terrorism, and threatened (along the rest of the world) by an increasingly aggressive Germany. Amidst what remains of Florida, near a Miama declared as a quarantine zone for bioterror victims called growlers Tom Wilner, a former marine, is a member of the United Police Force, a peace keeping organization that does its best to enforce what little law remains in the area. Wilner, while tailing his soon-to-be ex-wife into an area bar is quickly caught in a firefight and thrust straight into the middle of a conflict between two ancient families. What ensues is flawed, but highly entertaining, action-thriller that while engrossing never seems to quite captialize on the rich world the O’Neal has created.
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