Guest Post by Danny Stevenson Post Apocalyptic Model Maker and Tabletop Wargamer

This guest post is from Danny Stevenson, the founder of the Post Apoc Wargames Forum, a post apocalyptic model maker and wargamer. Danny posted a comment on Twitter in response to Evan T Pickering’s guest post, describing how he related to the notion of rebirth and rebuilding after the apocalypse. The idea of post apocalyptic rebirth resonated with Danny, so I asked him if he would write a guest post to carry on that theme. He has created some really awesome post apocalyptic models that he displays on his blog here and I’ve posted some images below. Thank you to Danny for sharing his thoughts and insights!

model2Rebirth after the Apocalypse? This is a question a few people have asked me when they see or read my work.

Chatting to many people down the years, many people associate the Apocalypse with whole scale death and destruction. That this is it. Nothing more. Any remaining humans are reduced to scavenging savages. They seem surprised that in the world I created humanity is slowly trying to rebuild. Looking to recover. Rebuilding from the ashes and anarchy.

For me, one of the joys of the Post Apocalyptic genre is the ability to explore and create new societies with freedom. The destruction of what was removes the existing rules. Some of the societies that I have created are realistic in nature, others are real life in a satirical way and some are purely for fun.

tarotdeathIn the Tarot, the death card doesn’t mean just death and destruction. It can mean change or a new way of looking at things. From this death, change follows rebirth and growth. It happens again and again around us every day in every aspect of our lives. The Apocalypse is in many ways the death card for the whole planet.

Looking at the past, it is clear that our dear old planet has survived many apocalyptic events in one form or another. Mother Nature springs back. Life clings on and becomes abundant once again. Often these apocalyptic events remove one dominate life form and allows other (often weaker) life forms to flourish and survive.

Recovery of nature is essential for rebirth after an apocalyptic event. The process could take anything from a few years to centuries. Once the recovery of nature starts it will help support plant and animal life. These in turn will help any human societies starting to form.

What about the plant and animal life? Would an apocalyptic event destroy them all? Have any of the other apocalyptic events in history? Massive amounts of species were wiped out but many survived. When you look at our world, animal life is everywhere, even places that appear barren and dead. Once the spark of life is there it will fight to hang on. Look at the area around Chernobyl. The area was evacuated when the disaster happened. It was heavily contaminated. In less than twenty years plant and animal life has returned to all but the most contaminated areas.

model4The last piece of our jigsaw puzzle is humanity. When you view a single human and compare them to similar sized animals, humans have no natural weapons, armour or fur. We often have poorer vision, no night vision, poorer hearing, slower movement and little sense of smell. Our success lies in our adaptability, ability to work together and use tools. We instinctively come together as groups and work together. We can build things to help our survival. These instincts won’t go away in times of adversity but often are strengthened.

History provides us with plenty of clues about how humanity can come back from the brink. The main difference is that now some humans would have access to knowledge, weapons and tools from the modern age. These may give our survivors more of a edge.

model1One thing that takes people aback is in my settings the new societies are often rebuilding. I find it odd that people wouldn’t consider it. After all mankind is a builder. Maybe my real life job as an Engineer has coloured my view. In my experience there will always be someone who can fix, repair and build things. I have met many amazing individuals who despite no formal education can fix anything and build amazing looking vehicles. Not all knowledge would be lost. There will be people with things rattling around in their heads. Things that may help your group of survivors rebuild.

The Apocalypse brings death and destruction. It brings great change which in turn triggers rebirth of the post apocalyptic world . Of course the Apocalypse may allow a new rival to evolve to claim the top of the pile and push humanity into history.

Danny Stevenson

http://mattblackgodsworld.blogspot.co.uk/

@wastesrider on Twitter

Post Apoc Wargames Forum

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Guest Post from Evan T Pickering Author of Hood

This guest post is from Evan T. Pickering, author of the post-apocalyptic novel Hood: American Rebirth Series Book 1. Evan skillfully shares a profound personal experience with us. He shows us how this experience has influenced him and how it relates to his unique perspective and writing. Thank you Evan for describing end of the world fiction in a way that fans and newcomers alike can and will appreciate!

Our Own Destroyed World

Doesn’t it feel like the end of the world sometimes?

For us, I mean. For us as individuals in our own lives. The longer we live, the probability that we make some catastrophically bad choice for ourselves will eventually reach 100%.

It’s part of existence. We fuck it all up. Hopefully it doesn’t kill us. When I was 13 I jumped into the street on my BMX bike and got smashed by a car. Because, y’know, I was thirteen and a dumbass. I had to have my leg rebuilt but otherwise I was still alive. In some realities, maybe I or someone like me would have been brokenlegkilled. It seemed like an easy decision: there’s no one in the road, I want to bomb this gap. Oh wait, a car came while I wasn’t looking. Smash. Lying bloody in the middle of road, unsure of who I was, so deep in shock.

We can all look back at our lives and point to events that caused our world to fracture and collapse around us. A ruined relationship and the profound emptiness that follows. A terrible life decision that destroys a career. There’s many, many creative ways to fuck up your own life.

And from those personal tragedies comes a deep satisfaction in reading/watching apocalypse narratives–all our great mistakes and convoluted modern lives have been wiped away. We are reborn in our survival. The world has changed. In Apocalyptic scenarios, the earth is like me on the bike jumping in front of a car. It limps on, injured but coalescing, turning into something else. Reborn.

rickrebornBecause that’s what happens to us, isn’t it? Or at least, it can be. In the wake of whatever catastrophic event we have in our personal lives, there is an opportunity. A window wherein we can be reborn, change profoundly and become someone different than who we were before.

As I lay in the road with my shattered leg, I quietly observed the world around me. People came to me and asked me questions and called an ambulance, but I was not me. Deep in shock and under the influence of whatever drugs my brain had dispensed to keep me from losing my mind, I was no one. I distinctly remember thinking:

“This sucks for whoever this is happening to.”

I didn’t even realize that I was me. A feeling that lies somewhere in the realm of holy shit territory. But eventually when I attributed my consciousness to myself again, I had to deal with the implications of what had happened to me. My life was changed, forever altered, and already I started to question what I was doing, what I wanted moving forward, what my life would be like from then on out.

newlifeindeadstumpMy take on Apocalyptic fiction in general is one that is obsessed with rebirth. With the idea that apocalypse narratives are just macrocosms of our own lives. Sometimes it feels like we’ve destroyed our own world, that we feel so distant from who we used to be and what we used to believe. But where something is lost the opportunity for something new to be born arises. A new life can come from the part of us or our world that has died. That’s what I write about. That’s the story I want to tell of the apocalypse.

-Evan Pickeringhood

www.EvanPickeringAuthor.com
https://twitter.com/EvanTP87
https://www.facebook.com/EPAuthor/

Follow Evan on his social media above and check out his post-apocalyptic American Rebirth Series. Book 1 Hood is shown right and book 2 Whiskey is also available. They are both currently on Kindle Unlimited.

Guest Post from Ron Welch Author of Theradlands.com

This next guest post is from Ron Welch, blogger and author at Theradlands.com . Ron is a purveyor of all things wasteland. That is, to say he is a sort of aficionado of a fictional post apocalyptic, post nuclear war Earth. A planet completely devastated by nuclear war, civilization reduced to rubble, radiation pollution, the whole works! Think of the world of Mad Max or Fallout and you will get the idea.

I reached out to Ron after reading some of his well written and interesting posts and realized that I hadn’t really focused nearly enough on the so far fictional wasteland. The idea of the wasteland is prominent throughout all types of post apocalyptic fiction and it certainly deserves a place here!

I really enjoyed reading Ron’s insightful commentary. He actually puts the wasteland in a new sort of perspective that I hadn’t really considered before. Please enjoy his article and make sure to follow him on Twitter @The_radlands and visit his site theradlands.com . Thanks Ron!

The Power of Post-Nuclear Fiction

by Ron Welch

Post-nuclear fiction is unique; it captivates us with tales of inhumanity, survival, and occasionally grotesque mutations. Although each writer creates a different post-nuclear world, there are always a handful of similarities throughout to define sandstormthe genre and keep the audience anchored into the setting. Because a post-nuclear world necessarily requires advanced technology, the genre finds itself at a crossroad between sci-fi and fantasy, utilizing the social commentary of the former with the fantasticism of the latter.

From Mad Max to Fallout, post-nuclear worlds are generally rooted in techno-feudalism. Great leaders rise to power, protecting slaves and serfs from the horrors of the wasteland. Typically, walled villages are mandatory to keep out monsters (both human and beast). Bandits and raiders are present in every wasteland incarnation, similar to pirates radiationin both sci-fi and fantasy. Although outwardly techno-feudalism outwardly looks identical to traditional feudalism, where it diverges in post-nuclear fiction is at the means of collecting resources. Traditional feudalism is rooted in farming and the production of resources. Techno-feudalism is rooted in the scavenging of resources, both for convenience and because the secret to advanced (and even primitive) technology is lost on uneducated wastelanders. Scavenging is key to the setting.

falloutWhile exploring the wasteland, scavengers often come across pockets of radiation. In reality, radiation from nuclear weapons dissipates after a few months. In fiction, radiation is used as a placeholder for magic (again calling on traditional fantasy). Mutants (both human and beast), psychic powers, and unexplained anomalies are engrained in post-nuclear fiction.

From the burnpit screamers in A Boy and His Dog to Ghouls, mutants have been critical to the success of the post-nuclear genre. The existence of these creatures captures our imagination in a way that fantasy monsters and sci-fi boyanddogaliens cannot. Mutants, by their nature, rely on body horror. Generally, mutant designs are just a twist on something that already exists. For example, the Fallout franchise combined dogs and men into centaurs. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise has grotesque chimera and pseudogiants. A handful of franchises go a step further, adding sentient mutant races to interact with humans, filling a roll similar to Elves and Dwarves in fantasy or aliens in sci-fi. Mutants are engaging, as they encourage the audience to think about what other animals would look like in the setting.

Although less common than mutants, some post-nuclear settings also include psychic powers. This again calls back to the cross between sci-fi and fantasy. Psychic powers are effectively sci-fi magic. The difference is that mutant powers are often sporadic and uncontrolled (see Psykers in Warhammer 40k or Dark Ones in Metro 2033). Likewise, some settings (specifically S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Metro 2033) have anomalies that split from traditional radioactive horror and merge toward something more mysterious and occasionally spiritual. Anomalies rarely have a scientific explanation (even a super-scientific explanation that works within the universe), but they reflect something critical to the genre. After a nuclear war, the world will never be the same again.

madmaxvehicles In many ways post-nuclear fiction is similar to sci-fi and fantasy. They all reflect societies where governments are loose, territorial, or non-existent. They all have monsters, but the manner in which those monsters express themselves through design and intelligence varies widely. All of these things help the audience to better connect with the genre, because although fictional, it is rooted in reality. The locations are the same, but they are presented in through the filter of destruction and radioactive horror. Given the opportunity, post-nuclear fiction can define the post-apocalyptic genre the same way Tolkien defined fantasy and Frank Herbert defined sci-fi.

What do you think makes the post-nuclear genre unique? Tell us in the comments!

If you enjoyed this piece, you can read more specific articles at www.theradlands.com or follow us on Twitter @The_RadLands .

 

The Walking Dead Season 7

twdseason7Going into the third episode of The Walking Dead Season 7, most fans of the show are aware of the deaths of some fairly significant characters. I won’t go into any specific details just in case you haven’t seen the first couple of episodes, however, I felt that it was appropriate to comment on a couple of things.

First of all, the zombie post apocalypse is certainly a violent and unpredictable place. It would be completely unreasonable if the main characters remained unscathed. We were already hearing voices (no not the voices in my head – fortunately, I don’t hear those yet…) complaining about how there weren’t any significant character killings in most of the 6th season. Inevitably, those voices would have gained strength among fans claiming that the story was unrealistic (insofar as anything could be unrealistic in the zombie apocalypse). Naturally, fans expect that people will be killed, but only those characters that they don’t like or get to know very well. Anyway, in keeping with the comics (which I haven’t read intentionally), our core group of survivors has dwindled down further, much to the dismay of many.

Over the years, we have watched as our remaining core group of The Walking Dead characters became less isolated. As they meet new groups of survivors, we are starting to see that there is indeed a type of functioning semi-civil-system in place, at least in that part of Virginia, and perhaps all over the world. It seems as though what remains of civilization has reverted to a form of feudalism. The strongest and most ruthless rule the day while the weaker serve them. In neganthis case, we find that Negan, ruler of “The Saviors” is the “big boss”, enforcing his power through his liberal use of brutality and his special friend “Lucille”. I have previously discussed to the likelihood of a tendency for sociopaths to rise to the power in the post apocalypse (link) and I think that would hold true. We have seen “The Governor” in previous seasons, now we see Negan, who certainly would “fit the bill”.

In the second episode, we also meet a whole new community of survivors that call themselves “The Kingdom”. It turns out that “The Kingdom” is quite fascinating and amusing place, to say the least. The leader of “The Kingdom”, “King Ezekiel”, is downright hilarious and has a flair for the dramatic, having been a Shakespearean actor and a zoo keeper pre-apocalypse. Oh, and did I mention that he has pet tiger named shivaezekielShiva! That’s right, A PET TIGER that actually comes along with a fairly detailed background story as well (maybe we will see more of this story in future episode flashbacks). How awesome is that!

Then we have the end of our modern fairy tale notion that things always get better. “Better” being a relative term, of course. Unfortunately, in the real world, and certainly in any imaginable post apocalyptic scenario, “things” get worse too. You might think “how much worse can it get for Rick’s family”. Well it turns out, it can get much, much worse, as we have witnessed in these episodes.

Being such a fan of apocalyptic fiction, I find that I’m “pinching myself” (metaphorically, most of the time) while I watch The Walking Dead. Is this show really on Prime Time TV on a Sunday night? Is it really the most popular show on television?

Oh, and did I mention that there is a fucking TIGER! A rather large tiger with huge, menacing teeth and very sharp claws! I can’t wait to see Shiva tear into some zombies or living people for that matter (as long as they’re bad guys 😉 ). Will she take their heads off with her claws or bite and crush their skulls? I think Shiva tearing off Negan’s head would be appropriate, then they can shove that barbed wire bat “Lucille” down what’s lucilleleft of his throat!

Innovation in fiction. Ultimately, it’s the unique “tiger” ideas that I love. These great “where did that come from?” ideas are what keep me reading and watching. The post-apocalyptic environment is well suited for those “what the fuck! (WTF)” moments (who they hell thought of that?). After all, the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre is a bifurcation of science fiction, the exploration of “what ifs”. I think people appreciate the way that the writers (Robert Kirkman, et al) of The Walking Dead have re-imagined and reinterpreted the zombie apocalypse. They are exploring it in a new way. It is different from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead that has been regurgitated countless times. People can sense when an idea or concept is worn out and they get tired of it. Fortunately, just when you think it has all been done before, someone comes up with something new and flips everything on its head. Who knows what type of calamity someone will come up with next? Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it. That is, of course, if we have time left for those types of things…

The Terminator

terminatorIt’s odd that I haven’t mentioned The Terminator on this site before. It was one of the first end of the world movies to capture my imagination. In many ways, the movie and the concept really sparked the genesis of my odd apocalyptic preoccupation. The Terminator is one of my all time favorite movies. An awesome combination of a killer cyborg, time travel, the dawn of true artificial intelligence and nuclear war gets me every time.

First off, lets get the criticism out of the way. I’m not claiming that the acting or the story line logic is perfect. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting is fair at best (well, he is a cyborg). And yes, there is some unnecessary nudity – no I’m not referring to Sarah Connor. For some strange reason, only human tissue can travel through time, oh and a metal skeleton, but not clothes…Ok, lets move on shall we…

The premise itself is perfectly logical: artificial intelligence is born, sees humans as a threat, concludes that to eliminate the threat efficiently it must initiate a full scale nuclear strike against The Soviet Union (which was still intact at the time that the film was made). A newly born artificial intelligence aka Skynet knew that such a strike would be reciprocated and “bye-bye” humans, well most humans anyway. Of course, there would be survivors, but Skynet must have deduced that such a threat would be minimal with 90% of the world’s population dead and most of humankind’s infrastructure decimated.

We are led to believe that Skynet was somewhat surprised by the human will to survive. Indeed, humans can be quite resourceful and tenacious when necessary. The human resistance became something more than a nuisance to Skynet, so it comes up with quite an innovative plan to use cyborgs to infiltrate human populations to kill, kill, KILL!

Furthermore, Skynet decided to use its newly discovered time travel technology to send a terminator back in time to prevent the human resistance leader from being born by killing his mother Sarah Connor. Ha! Take that stupid humans!

However, apparently Skynet didn’t fully consider the consequences of time travel as Kyle Reese followed the Terminator back through time to defend Sarah Connor. We find out that Kyle is actually John Connor’s father!

cyberdyneNot only that, but we later find out (in Terminator 2) that Cyberdyne systems actually based most of its work off of the robotic arm and circuits that they found and studied from Terminator 1. Oh Boy! So did Skynet actually create itself accidentally by sending the first terminator back in time? Wow, time travel is fun isn’t it, if you can get past the headache! 🙂

Some of my favorite parts of the first Terminator movie are when we see the future through Kyle Reese’s dreams and memories. We see tricked out resistance 80’s cars with stolen mounted Skynet laser cannons (below). We watch as the early terminator units infiltrate a human enclave and kill everyone. We watch as a giant robotic tank drove over skulls in post apocalyptic Los Angeles.

Considering the special effect technology that was available in 1984, these scenes are epic! It’s like Mad Max mixed with Star Wars. Add in the 80’s synthesizer music and we are talking over the top awesome for a 10 year old kid and a 41 year old man alike!

The Terminator franchise now covers 5 movies, a TV series, novels and a comic series. The Walking Dead fan’s might be interested to know that Gale Anne Hurd was a writer and producer in almost all of the Terminator movies. It’s hard to really understate the influence The Terminator has had on our modern culture. To this day, it still stands as one of my favorite movies of all time.

 

Guest Post from Chad A. Clark Author of Behind our Walls

This guest post is by Chad A. Clark, author of the end of the world novel Behind Our Walls. It’s fascinating and encouraging to see some of the influences that inspire people to write books. Growing up in the 80’s, I can sure relate to a lot of Chad’s inspiration! Thanks for sharing Chad! I encourage all of you other guest posters and readers to chime in and leave a comment and follow/say hi to Chad A. Clark.

behindourwallsSeveral years ago, I wrote a short story, titled Tomorrow’s Memory. It is set in an apocalyptic future following some undefined event in which the governments and societies of the world have collapsed. The main character is a man in his early twenties, traveling with a female companion. Along the way, he decides to start keeping a journal and the story consists of his entries in that journal.

I have always been fascinated with what the landscape of the end of the world might look like. And what I mean by that is, we have seen no shortage of films and books, laying out scenarios by which our society could meet its ultimate destruction. And while I have certainly enjoyed these stories, I also wanted to try going in a different direction. I was interested in the perspective of the people on the ground and how their lives are affected, where they go from here.

Just as an example, one thing that has always captivated me about the film Cloverfield is how it is essentially the telling of the Godzilla story, but from the perspective of the screaming mob trying to get away from the monster. This was the sensibility I tried to bring to this story. In an age where we depend so much on technology for our information, what happens when the world crashes down around us and the only means of learning about things is from the mouths of people you encounter on the road. People you may or may not be able to trust.

These were my favorite aspects of writing Tomorrow’s Memory and it would eventually spark my desire to write a full length novel in that same universe. It was from the seeds of that initial story that Behind Our Walls would eventually grow.

I didn’t want this to be a supernatural story. There are no zombies. I didn’t want this to be a techno-thriller. I wanted it to be a human story. I wanted to take genuine characters and see how they handled complete immersion in a hostile and violent environment. What would it look like if a group of survivors were to try and rebuild on the ashes of a society and start over?

The book I wrote was originally much longer and offered a few more backstory and clues as to what caused society’s downfall. In the end, I decided that I was being too ambitious and that it would be better to quickly immerse the reader in the world of this story. I wanted to challenge myself to bring the reader closer to the experiences of the characters.

Behind Our Walls is a dark book. It presents a bleak picture of our humanity and what people could be capable of, if left alone with each other and to their own devices. But I think there is also a hint of optimism there as well. As I wrote this, I definitely wanted to bring to bear all of the beautifully grim fiction I had read over the years but I also wanted to avoid the idea that all hope was lost. At the end of the day, I still believe in the inherent goodness of ourselves and I think that should be evident as the story draws to a close.

This book, as the rest of my writing in general, is driven by my love for dark fiction. There are any number of sources I could point to as the origins for my narrative sensibilities. As a child, I was reading at a very early age and by the time I was ten or eleven, I was given a fair amount of liberty in terms of what I was allowed to read. It wasn’t long before I found my way to the likes of Stephen King and Robert McCammon.

And of course, no discussion of the eighties can rightfully leave out the incredible horror movie franchises that came about. There was a special immediacy and dark reality of the practical special effects of the day. Watching slasher or zombie movies, you had an uncomfortable feeling that you were being made privy to something that you weren’t supposed to see.

All of this acted as a brine of sorts, in which my narrative outlook would start to develop. I love the visceral experience of the horror genre. I love the view you get of humanity in the reflection of horrific events of a story. I love reading and writing books with dark content because it forces you to be a part of the process. You have to bring your own morality to bear and evaluate the things that are happening and how they make you feel. That’s what I think all good art should do.

And if I can accomplish that at least some of the time with my own writing, I will consider myself to be a success.

 

Chad A. Clark

cclarkfiction.wixsite.com/chad-clark

Follow Chad A. Clark on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google+.

Guest Post from M.L. Cain Author of Dead Salvage Series

Our latest guest post is from M.L. Cain, author of the post apocalyptic book series Dead Salvage of which the first book called Mourning is now available. M.L. Cain told me that he wrote this on his phone which I must say is impressive! Thanks to M.L. Cain for sharing his very unique perspective with us below!

deadsalvageAlright, my name is ML Cain, an author within the Post apocalyptic/ Military Sci-fi genre, though I don’t like to limit myself. I typically don’t talk about myself much, so forgive me if the awkwardness bleeds through.

Oddly enough I’m not a fan of fiction books (there are a couple of exceptions, of course), when it comes to books I prefer non-fiction, usually within the realm of Military History, Ancient Greek history/mythology, and books about killers or other strange happenings and subjects based somewhat in reality.
 
So what was my motivation to create a post-apocalyptic fiction series? Simply and honestly put, I enjoy entertaining the idea of human extinction, and the path or struggle to extinction. I grew up on Horror movies, and the gory, adult themed Anime of the 70s- 90s era. I’ve always been fascinated by dark stories of gore, horror and the annihilation of the human race via movies and anime. I’m sure I can attribute some of my inspiration to these films and series which held me spellbound in my early childhood and teen years.
 
For me, personally, I look at writing as a form of art, as self expression… I don’t play an instrument, I don’t draw or paint, so I write, it is my release… more than communicating a message, I may want to communicate an emotion or ask a question, or maybe i just want to assault the reader in a non physical way. I’m someone that writes without care for social or moral norms, or rules of a genre. My works are an outlet for my thoughts, emotions and philosophies.
 
Dead Salvage is my first work of fiction, and my first series. My goal with the Dead Salvage series is to tell the story of human extinction, in a unique, meaningful and interesting way.  With this and my other up coming works I hope to define/refine myself and my style as a writer,thank you.
 
Official page: Authormlcain.com