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.

Under the Dome TV Series

under the dome tv

The television rendition of Stephen King’s Under the Dome has been a highlight to my recent summertime entertainment schedule. Having built up a decent collection of episodes on the DVR, I dove in this last weekend to catch up on the show that everyone is talking about. While the scope of Under the Dome is not worldwide, it has a definite apocalyptic feel to it. Stephen King has some type of unique, almost supernatural insight into the end of the world and is able to capture the essence of what “the end” might be like. Indeed, it is the apocalypse for the people of Chester’s Mill that are trapped beneath a giant, invisible and indestructible dome, completely cut off from the rest of the world. Physically isolated from the outside world, the power-hungry and insane rise up to complicate the struggle for limited resources. As is often the case, the CBS television series doesn’t strictly follow the book. Rather than going into those specific details in this article, I’ll defer to Dina Rae, author of The Last Degree, as she does an excellent job at describing the differences between the book and TV show on her blog here.

Now forgive me for getting sidetracked but Under the Dome does such a good job of creating that “end of the world” tone that it occurred to me that there are certain factors that create the perfect apocalyptic fiction scenario. Stephen King is so good at creating this type of story maybe he uses a type of formula to get a reader/watcher into “the zone” so to speak. Here’s a few of the factors that I was able to identify:

  • unknown event (what happened?; cause unknown; speculation only). Consider-if all electronic communication were instantly disabled forever, would we ever know exactly what happened?
  • mental illness or downright evil traits are exacerbated (perhaps through lack of medication or lack of legal/social restrictions)
  • limited resources (access to food, water, energy are reduced and amounts are reduced)
  • reduction or no rule of law (legal system inadequate/not functioning, people feel unrestrained and feel a new freedom to act without fear of consequences)

While these factors will mostly be relevant in the early stages of an apocalyptic event, I think they give a useful framework for writers out there that are interested in setting the tone for an apocalyptic story. In essence, an apocalyptic event acts like a magnifying glass focusing onto people and/or situations. With increased magnification, situations that weren’t apparent before quickly become visible. Sunlight could focus through the glass, creating focused heat, forging new characters or setting them alight. If you have any ideas for what creates the perfect apocalyptic scenario please leave a comment!

Watch Under the Dome TV on Amazon Instant Video Below:

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7-11

711

Long gone were the lingering aromas of day old hot dogs and watered down convenience store coffee. Of course, the power had been out for some time now. The shelves were stripped bare in some manic race for survival. Well, almost bare. A few packs of Christmas tree air fresheners were left on their hooks. Surprisingly, there were few signs of a struggle, aside from the mad dash to pillage useful items. The workers here hadn’t put up any resistance to the panicked hordes. Loyalty didn’t come with minimum wage, or any wage for that matter. When terror gripped the mind such things became irrelevant.

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!

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.

Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse

go go girls of the apocalypse A chaotic romp through the post apocalypse, Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse straddles a line of laugh out loud funny and brutally-dead serious. Written as a comedy/parody, Victor Gischler really goes over the top at times. From the steroid/amphetamine infused human train engine to the outlandish operations of Joey Armageddon’s Sassy A-Go-Go, this is a crazy, frenzied and fantastic tale. 

Mortimer Tate is swept up in the new post apocalypse when he ventures down from his fully outfitted mountain retreat where he has lived for the last ten years in relative comfort, sheltered from the worst of the destruction and downfall of modern civilization. In this version of the post apocalypse, Joey Armageddon’s, a saloon/strip club ,has become a hub for economic activity, along with its own currency, elite memberships cards and even a franchise policy to facilitate its expansion to a number of different cities. The idea that a Go-Go franchise could be the foundation for commerce and a new civilization is both disturbing and intriguing. On the one hand, it is logical that such a venture would be profitable and would bring people together, especially in a decimated world, without entertainment. On the other hand, it is rather depressing that booze and naked ladies would be civilization building motivators. Regardless, the post apocalypse Go-Go franchise is certainly one of the most unusual and original ideas that this apocalypse fanatic has stumbled upon.

As long as you aren’t easily offended or especially bothered by the occasional lack of realism, Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse is a funny and enjoyable post apocalyptic novel that you should add to your reading list.

 Click Here for the Audiobook Version

Oblivion

Oblivion

A fragmented moon offers some clues to the cause of the devastated Earth.

Leaning heavily towards the science fiction end of the spectrum, Oblivion is one of the best post apocalyptic movies that I’ve seen so far in 2013. Without giving too much away, Oblivion is a post apocalyptic movie with some extraterrestrial involvement. Not aliens exactly, but perhaps an advanced alien technology. The flooded out ruins of New York City, with the Empire State Building at ground level, will remain embedded in my mind for some time. If you are looking for a movie to go to this weekend, Oblivion is worth checking out. Watch the trailer below:

The Last Stonestepper

The Last Stonestepper

Matthew Hayes is on a flight to Hollywood to meet with studio executives that are interested in buying his recently completed, highly regarded screenplay when all hell breaks loose. Suddenly, many of the passengers behave as though they are stoned, fascinated by the appearance of their own hands, while others are overcome with a sinister urge to kill. Humans are divided into two categories in Elliot Logan’s apocalyptic horror novel The Last Stonestepper. The first category, the “stonestepper”, as described by the protagonist, Matthew, is one that takes a very cautious approach, searching for rocks to step on to cross a creek. The second category is made up of less cautious people of action, that will run straight through a creek to get to the other side with no concern for getting wet. This is how people are divided in The Last Stonestepper when some type of event alters the consciousness of a significant portion of the population. The speculation is that the event is caused by some type of cutting edge military technology gone awry. Those that are unaffected possess some type of mental resiliency that is lacking in the majority of the population. Those affected by the event are transformed into either cold-blooded killers or drooling, vacant imbeciles that seem lost in some type of pleasant dream world. But this story certainly isn’t advocating for the destruction of the world’s quitters and slackers. In fact, the protagonist happens to be one of these “stonesteppers” that is undergoing a slow transformation, unlike the rest. As he fights for his life, he is slowly drawn into a vivid and pleasant memory of a day at the beach with his girlfriend.

The Last Stonestepper is a very enjoyable book. The frequent appearance of the ominous “man in the pinstriped suit”, that is visible only to the protagonist, is an element reminiscent of characters we’ve seen in Stephen King novels. Many of us writers, readers, dreamers and other “stonesteppers” will likely relate to Matthew’s temptation to retreat from misery and suffering into some fictional realm. Suspenseful and downright scary at times, The Last Stonestepper gives you that heightened awareness of your peripheral vision like great horror should. Elliot Logan has also captured some very human, emotional elements in this apocalyptic horror novel that make it unique in the genre and well worth reading.

 

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 15

the walking dead season 3 episode 15

**Spoiler Alert**

Merle is given a chance for redemption in The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 15 titled This Sorrowful Life. Michonne makes a valid point in her address to Merle when she suggests that if he was truly evil he wouldn’t feel remorse. Merle seems to take this to heart as he leads his own parade to make his last stand against the Governor. The zombie post apocalypse is a bleak place but perhaps some goodness remains? If you missed this episode watch it through the link below.

Red Dawn 2012

Red Dawn 2012

Being a huge fan of the original Red Dawn, released in 1984, I was excited to watch the latest incarnation of this fictional World War 3 invasion of America. Let’s just take it as a given that the logistics of such an invasion make it practically impossible. With that said, the idea of a small group of regular people engaging in guerrilla warfare tactics on familiar turf has a certain appeal to the John Rambo kid within all of us! Obviously, with the Cold War era behind us, the threat of such an invasion is even more unlikely. Not to mention, why would anyone bother to invade a country physically when they already own it economically? Though the invaders are North Korean, the implication is that they have the full support of China. With practical matters out-of-the-way, the recycled story of resistance against a superior enemy is enjoyable. Though it has its share of superficial relationships and some teenage “corny” moments, Red Dawn is packed solid with action and the scenery is much more enjoyable in high-definition compared to watching it on the giant old 200 lb 24 inch tv on the videocassette recorder! Part of the enjoyment in this remake is nostalgia, I suppose, but as long as your expectations aren’t too high and you are able to accept an unrealistic plot, Red Dawn is a fun diversion.

The Witch of Hebron

The Witch of Hebron

The second book in the post economic collapse novel series World Made by Hand written by James Kunstler called The Witch of Hebron further delves into the story of survivors in a small upstate New York town after the total collapse of the United States. (Read About Book One Here) As the title implies, this post economic collapse novel crosses into some supernatural territory with the introduction of  a witch (or is she a prostitute) that has some rather “unique” abilities. A comment made about our review of World Made by Hand seems even more relevant with this book: “I took a lot of the behavior to be more in keeping with the wish fulfillment of a libertine aging boomer author.” (Thanks Russell1200) This witch just happens to be the most beautiful and seductive woman alive! (paraphrasing the inner commentary of every man who sees her). While this reader has no problems with a writer embellishing their story to explore some fantasies, it could be annoying to some, especially to the female gender. But alas, surely most fans of apocalyptic fiction would not be terribly offended by some fairly descriptive scenes? Anyway, the book is more of a coming of age story following a boy that runs away from home and gets involved with a sociopath, villainous thief and wannabe cowboy who happens to be on a murderous rampage. If you liked World Made by Hand, you will probably enjoy The Witch of Hebron. It isn’t the best post shit hit the fan novel but it is entertaining.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 13

the walking dead season 3 episode 13

Rick and The Governor sit down to talk in The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 13 titled Arrow on the Doorpost. Talk is cheap though and a war seems inevitable. True to reality, some of the last humans alive aim to kill each other over some relatively insignificant disputes. This episode has a lot of posturing but I loved the eye in the sky camera views! If you missed this episode watch it through the link below.

Click Here to watch a preview of The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 14