Torn

The world is on the verge of a new ice age in Jacqueline Druga’s blockbuster apocalyptic thriller Torn. Torn is entertaining apocalyptic novel with a great sense of humor, however some of the events and the fact that these events coincide, lead to the creation of a mostly improbable, unlikely scenario. Reading it is a lot like watching Hollywood blockbuster movie. It is as if the author sat down and came up with a number of different apocalyptic scenarios and worked diligently to cram all of it in to one book. An apocalyptic recipe, if you will: First add in some solar flares, pandemics, a little radiation, pole reversal and a new ice age. Mix thoroughly. Next, randomly garnish with hordes of snakes, swarms of bugs and bird attacks which really adds to the shock value. The story revolves around a small group of friends and acquaintances, among them scientists and reporters, as they begin to understand the gravity of the apocalyptic events that are about to unfold. What begins as a series of unrelated, bizarre phenomena turns out to be the initial events leading to a magnetic pole reversal that will lead to a new ice age brought on by cyclical solar events. Torn actually resembles the movie Armageddon in terms of its structure (discovery, preparation, solution), however, in Torn, there is no happy ending, at least for humankind in general. Scientists exchange ideas on how to prevent and/or alter apocalyptic solar and geological events but to no avail. One cannot fault writers for constantly recycling stories and ideas (mostly everything has been done before hasn’t it?) but fiction is more easily digested when this process is a little less obvious. On the bright side, this apocalyptic novel certainly has a great sense of humor, mostly through character interaction, which is thoroughly enjoyable. Torn is worth reading but might be best suited for those readers that have only a passing interest in apocalyptic fiction and are looking mostly for a little action, adventure and quirky romance.

After the Storm

after the storm

An asteroid collision has destroyed civilization as we know it, killing 95% of the world’s population in Don Chase’s post apocalyptic novel After the Storm Book One: Menotomy. A group of survivors, at its core lifelong friends, have built an organized cooperative of sorts in the rubble of the Boston suburb, Arlington, Massachusetts (Menotomy). While the Boston area has escaped complete physical destruction due to the location of the asteroid strikes, it has been decimated by the complete collapse of economic, social and civil structure. Additionally, the world has gone into a nuclear winter caused by the massive amount of debris that was released into the atmosphere after the meteor collision. The group of survivors or “clan” as they are referred to in this post apocalyptic novel, has built their headquarters out of an abandoned strip mall. Duncan Mackenzie or “Mack” as he is most often referred, has been reluctantly cast as the leader of this small suburban Boston clan. Mack has more than his fair share of problems in this new world. Of course, food, water, fuel and medical supplies are always in very short supply but a new complication arises as the remnants of the US Army, ruled by a non-elected, ethically challenged government, comes up from their bunkers and tries to reestablish control over the population.

Given such a dire post apocalyptic setting, the characters in After the Storm relate in a refreshingly jovial manner, “busting balls”, as longtime friends are prone to doing. Under extraordinary amounts of stress, we see how close friendships, community support and comradely are essential in the survival and well-being of everyone in this tight-knit group. The development and continuation of meaningful, substantial relationships becomes the source of strength for the entire community. As long as one doesn’t get hung up on some of the minor technical details that could upset some hard-core prepper types, such as the reliance on gasoline without mention of its limited life span, After the Storm is a very enjoyable book. The story is continuously refreshed through the often times hilarious dialogue between regular folks. After the Storm is different from many apocalyptic novels. Instead of focusing on endless scientific and technical details, it primarily focuses on the relationships that would sustain survival. After all, meaningful relationships are what would make survival worthwhile in the first place. It is a point well taken by this reader.

World War Z The Movie

World War Z

Max Brooks’ vision of a zombie apocalypse is now available for the masses with the big screen release of World War Z movie. An action and suspense movie, bolstered with some excellent special effects, World War Z focuses on a UN investigator’s pursuit for the source of the zombie outbreak. The zombies are winning this war, and fast. Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) and his picture perfect family are caught in a downtown Philadelphia traffic jam when the first zombies attack. After narrowly escaping the initial stages of the zombie apocalypse, Gerry is forced to go back to work for the UN in exchange for the safety of his wife and children. We follow Gerry in his investigation around the world, from one calamity to the next, on his quest to discover the source of the zombie outbreak. Worthy of special mention are the scenes in Jerusalem which are by far the best in their portrayal of thousands of zombies in their characteristic swarming behaviors.

While World War Z The Movie is certainly entertaining and enjoyable, it would be dishonest to ignore some of its more obvious flaws. For one thing, the movie doesn’t follow the book closely. In fact, Max Brooks himself says that the movie doesn’t resemble the book at all. You could say that the movie takes place in the same “universe” as the book but is basically a completely different side story (sorry, no Battle of Yonkers). World War Z also suffers from some logic problems that are common in the zombie genre in general. The logic issue has to do with the focus on a scientific solution to the zombie apocalypse when such an event clearly crosses over into supernatural territory. At one point in the movie, a World Health Organization researcher points out the futility of his own research when he mentions that they had initially tried to fight the zombies by infecting them with a variety of pathogens but were unable to do so due to their lack of a functioning circulatory system. In other words they are dead. Nevertheless, they carry on with their search for a biological solution. ***RANT ALERT*** The references to “mother nature” taking back the planet from us greedy humans by causing the dead to rise and eat us is just plain fucking stupid! Look, zombies are just fucking awesome, don’t get all scientific assholes! ***RANT ALERT*** (sorry had to vent!)

One concept that translates from the book is the notion that human beings could eventually band together to fight for the survival of the species. Setting aside our differences, even for a short time is a fascinating and optimistic idea for sure, considering most people can’t even get along with their next door neighbors. A world war, not against one another, but against a superior enemy that exists only to destroy us. Would humans eventually cooperate if they were on the brink of destruction? Faced with the ultimate test, would we prevail?

Do yourself a favor this summer and take your favorite person to the theater, get a bucket of popcorn, a large soda and watch as the end unfolds under the walking dead. Have fun, life is short!

Apocalyptic Books

In an attempt to provide a relatively comprehensive apocalyptic book list , I have scoured the internet and come up with what I believe to be a substantial list of books divided into the following categories: Nuclear War, Zombies, Plague, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), Asteroids/Comets and Economic Collapse. Please understand that I use the term “apocalyptic” to cover a wide variety of fiction that includes post-apocalyptic and many other sub genres. You may or may not agree that all of these books belong lumped into the apocalyptic category and that is fine. My intent is not to split hairs with semantics but to provide a resource for fans of “end of the world as we know it” fiction. Keep in mind that this list is a work in progress and I will add new books as I find them. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a book that you would like added to the apocalyptic book list. Thanks and enjoy!

Nuclear War

Many of these books were written during the height of the cold war and as such have some dated subject matter. In case you weren’t alive during this time, people around the world lived with the possibility of widespread, instantaneous nuclear destruction by fire, blast wave and radiation. It’s no surprise that some of this preoccupation with nuclear destruction was expressed in the fiction of the time.

Zombies

For some reason, which is clearly beyond the scope of this website, the zombie fiction genre has really taken off in the last 20 years. Possibly fueled by some great remakes of zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead and some awesome originals like 28 Days Later and Zombieland. Whatever the reason for the zombie insurgence, we now have enough zombie apocalypse entertainment to fill the rest of our days.

Plague/Pandemic 

 

EMP

Asteroids/Comets

Economic Collapse

Falling Skies Season 3 Episode 3 Badlands

falling skies

The resistance is drowning in suspicion and fear in the third episode in the new season of TNT’s post apocalyptic tv show Falling Skies. With the constant threat of alien attack and possible traitors in their midst, the new city of Charleston is struggling to maintain some type of hope and order. The human survivors are facing a bleak situation for certain, but they’ve seen worse. If nothing else humans are tough and innovative, especially when backed into a corner. It’s just this sense of human perseverance that is brilliantly captured in Falling Skies that keeps me coming back for more episodes. Perhaps a redeeming quality for humankind: stubbornness, an absolute refusal to give up against all odds. Watch this episode through the TNT website here or on Amazon instant video here .

 

 

 

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Falling Skies Season 3 Premiere TNTs Alien Apocalypse

The new season of TNT’s post apocalyptic tv series Falling Skies starts off at the resistance base in Charleston, North Carolina where a fairly large and bustling human community has been established in the remnants of America following a full scale alien invasion. The human resistance has found some unlikely allies in another alien species that has been similarly persecuted by the so called “overlords”. This new alien ally has given the resistance some advanced weapons and technology that will certainly help in the fight against the superior invading forces. The season premiere is divided into two episodes. Episode 1 is called On Thin Ice and you can watch it for free through Amazon instant video here. You can watch the second episode, titled Collateral Damage through the TNT website here or stream it through Amazon instant video here. These were good episodes. A nice little alien invasion apocalypse to balance out all of the zombie action as of late. 

Man of Steel

You might be surprised to see a posting on the new Superman movie on a site dedicated to apocalyptic fiction but I felt compelled to make a short post about Man of Steel. Actually, you could argue that Man of Steel has an apocalyptic theme as General Zod and his crew make some legitimate attempts to destroy the world as we know it, but that’s really beside the point. What it boils down to is that this is a good movie and you should check it out! 

I’ve always been a Superman fan but up until now I’ve found the movies to be slightly corny and cliché. Man of Steel is clearly a reinvention of Superman. We are talking a major reinvention on par with and exceeding Batman’s transformation in the Dark Knight movies. On top of a “grittier” and more realistic Superman character we get a lot more detail on the destruction of Krypton and the events that lead up to the creation of the superhero. The action and special effects are monumental. You get the sense that the technology has caught up with the story. In other words, the special effects that were available in the previous Superman movies weren’t good enough to be convincing. This is evident in the fight scenes which are simply mind-blowing. If you’ve seen The Avengers, think of the scenes when The Hulk smashes his enemies into the ground and you will get a sense of how awesome the fight scenes are in Man of Steel. Of course, the movie isn’t perfect. Some of the relationships are superficial, including the relationship between Lois Lane and Superman but I’m willing to overlook that type of thing and think it is to be expected in a two-hour blockbuster movie. Do yourself a favor this summer and make some time to go to see Man of Steel.