Guest Post from E. E. Borton Author of the Post Apocalyptic Book Series Without

This guest post is by E. E. Borton, author of the post apocalyptic book series Without. I was excited to hear from E. E. Borton since the Without Series tells the story about the devastation following an geomagnetic storm that permanently disables all of the electrical devices on Earth. This fictional scenario happens to be one of my favorites, in part because it is a fairly common on our planet, at least as far as we know. The last time a major solar flare collided with Earth’s magnetosphere was in 1857 (see Carrington Event). If we had a geomagnetic storm of similar magnitude today, we might be looking at a scenario quite similar to E.E. Borton’s Without series. Thank you to E. E. Borton for sharing some insights into his post apocalyptic book series.

The WITHOUT series is a collaboration between friends. Sean Chase and Keith Foster pitched me the idea for the first novel over a pitcher of beer. I was hooked and finished two versions of the first chapter the next day. Once I convinced them to let me create the story in first person versus third, and change the title from WITHOUT POWER, I was off to the races. Three months later, I wrote the last page.

Before I set out to write a book, I have a detailed outline to keep myself on track. There is a certain pace and cadence a writer follows, and all of them are different. There was no outline created for WITHOUT.

Sean and Keith gave me the premise for the first chapter. The characters I created gave me the rest. They told me where they wanted to go and what they were going to do when they got there. All I had to do was write down what happened along the way. It was the most challenging novel I’ve written in my career so far, but by far the most rewarding. It taught me a lot about myself as a writer.

I served twice in Naval Intelligence. Once after school and again after 9/11. The travel and experiences were phenomenal. It showed me what the rest of the world looked like. Some of it was breathtaking. Some of it was heartbreaking.

There are 7.5 billion people on the planet. 1.2 billion of them live without power. I’ve traveled to many third world countries and have witnessed their daily struggle to survive. It intrigued me to think about how the population of our country would survive if electricity was taken away…forever. Life for those who never had it wouldn’t change much at all. Ours would be turned on its head.

My novels are works of fiction, but the amount of research I had to complete WITHOUT was extreme compared to my other books. I had to answer questions about a world few of us have experienced. The most glaring was how fast would a modern society disintegrate after a large scale catastrophic event. The answer was disturbing. In an urban environment – in a city – it would start as soon as the sun went down.

My research covered a wide range of events that were either man-made, accidental, or natural disasters that caused large-scale power outages. Most only lasting a few days, but some lasting a few weeks. In every situation, the good and the bad in people hit both ends of the spectrum. In every situation when large groups of people were plunged into darkness, things went from bad to worse within 24 hours. The downward spiral didn’t change until power was restored.

Those who were prepared – even slightly – fared much better than those who were caught off guard. A portable generator, store of batteries, or even a hand-cranked radio/charger/flashlight combo became more valuable than a pot of gold. At the very least it gave them the ability to see what went bump in the night, work in the dark, and communicate with the outside world. It may not seem like much, but it made all the difference for them.

WITHOUT and WITHOUT II – The Fall, are novels about what may happen if the lights go out…and they don’t come back. I wanted to immerse my character, and myself, into that world and push the boundaries of my creative process. I walked most of the route the character took. I lived without power for days. I was alone while doing both. I didn’t want to tell you what happened to the characters in my book. I wanted to show you.

E. E. Borton

eeborton.com

@EEBorton on Twitter

E.E. Borton on Facebook

Guest Post From Emily at The Road Virus theroadvirus.com

I’m excited to introduce our next guest post from Emily at The Road Virus. Emily contacted me in regards to a very cool project that her and a friend are starting and I was instantly interested in the concept. The Road Virus is on a mission to share and exhibit some of the best fringe literature available (which includes some of our favorite post-apocalyptic stories). Thank you Emily for sharing The Road Virus with us and we wish you all the best of luck in your adventures! I encourage all of you to support The Road Virus in any way you can. Follow them on social media and share the links with your friends. Thanks!

 

trv-bus-logo-stickerIt began as a wistful conversation about how awesome it would be to open a bookstore between two best friends. We’ve always been book lovers, one of us was a librarian (Em), the other is an author (Sade). But it was impossible in outrageously expensive San Francisco, and that’s when we started joking about mashing together the concept of a tiny home – like a bus or boat or rv – and bookstore. And so germinated The Road Virus, a mobile bookstore dedicated to fringe literature like horror, apocalyptic lit, sci-fi, queer studies & fiction, and fantasy.

We purchased a bus, retired and revamped into a library’s bookmobile, then set out to pasture before being purchased by us to make her into a big, rolling bookstore. She’s been kitted out with generator already so she runs 110V, both the gennie and motor are diesel and we plan on swapping her over to veggie oil and solar asap. She’s also got book shelves installed that are built like a bomb shelter – truly – we had to remove two small shelves to make space for our beds to fit, and had a KILLER time doing so because the materials were so durable, and construction was impeccable. We can climb the shelves like a ladder and they do not budge.

TheRoadVirusNaturally the first things put into her were our mobile preps, 72 hour bug out bags, first aide kits, solar and crank powered lights and radios, extra bottles of all fluids the bus needs (like fuel additive, coolant, quick start spray, etc), and about a week’s worth the dry/canned goods. We’re not getting stranded if the bus breaks down, zombies rise up, solar flare or EMP takes out all electronic devices!

Along with our preps we’re bringing our books, naturally. Some of our favorites are The Road, The Stand, Lucifer’s Hammer, How We Live Now, Dies the Fire, Desperation, and I Am Legend. Em’s surprise favorite is The Last Tribe by Brad Manuel, a global pandemic EOTWAWKI novel that was self published by the author. It follows the few survivors of the plague – specifically one family – trying to reunite with one son who was away at boarding school in the Northeast. As someone who grew up in Massachusetts (where a lot of the book is set), the idea of trying to survive a winter as a young teen while things like heating, plumbing, sanitation break down is enough to send a chill down Em’s spine.

theroadvirusposterThere’s lots left to do in the bus, whom we’ve named Jolene Lenore Freebird – including installing plumbing, propane cooktop, and tanks so she can either be shored at a park, or go off-grid without losing the basics of a home. We also need to have her vinyl wrapped so our store is recognizable, and she has some work that needs to be done on her electrical system. We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us achieve these goals – along with help us do some really awesome programming to help The Road Virus give back to the communities she visits, like literacy outreach, movie screenings, and a little free library. Please consider backing us – and bring the plague of literacy to a community near you!

Read more about our vision and goals for The Road Virus at our Kickstarter here:
theroadvirus.com/ks 

Also, check out my friend’s earthquake preparedness site Earthquakebag.me . They’ve got some great kits for those of us living in earthquake prone areas.

We’re also documenting our journey, and telling folks where they can find us via our website here:
theroadvirus.com

You can also reach us on all social media as @roadvirusbus
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Love and Pathogens,
The Road Virus Crew

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

model3

 

 

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.