Written from a uniquely Canadian perspective, Days With the Undead, an apocalyptic book by Julianne Snow follows a crew of survivors as they travel around North America in order to escape the zombie apocalypse. The pandemic rapidly spreads from Toronto’s Saint Michael’s emergency department after Brooks VanReit, patient zero, attacks the first victim. Fortunately, a small group of survivors that had been preparing for some type of disaster event is able to mobilize just in time before the outbreak rapidly overtakes the city and begins to spread out of control. The story is presented in a journal format as the protagonist Julie, a pathologist, documents their journey. Rather than choosing a hunker down type of strategy, the crew of forlorn Canadians chooses to stay on the run, travelling full circle, down to the southern United States, then over to the west coast then back up to Canada and eventually back over to northern Ontario. Although running is an understandable strategy, given their situation, it is unclear why they choose to travel the way that they do. Regardless, the zombie pandemic is spreading fast and they can’t seem to outrun the undead in their travels. Days With the Undead has a few surprises in store and strays slightly from the traditional zombie apocalypse scenario to include some unique zombie incarnations. Overall, this is a fun apocalyptic book and unique journey through the zombie apocalypse.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Rick comes full circle in The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 12 when he returns to his home town to find Morgan, from the first episode, who was the first living person that he encountered when he woke up from his coma to find the zombie apocalypse. Morgan isn’t the same though. After he witnessed his undead wife kill his son he has become a little “unstable”. He does have a nice stash of weapons though, which may come in handy in defending the prison against the governor. This episode titled Clear features a brilliant new zombie “diversion”. If you missed this episode watch it through the link below.
World Made by Hand is a captivating post apocalyptic novel written by peak oil speculator James Howard Kunstler who is perhaps best known for his non-fiction work The Long Emergency. World Made by Hand provides some interesting speculation about life in a post-cheap-oil America where a series of terrorist attacks, subsequent wars and an uncontrolled pandemic brings the world economy to a grinding halt. The story follows Robert Earle through some of his post apocalyptic trials and tribulations in a small northeastern New York town. While Union Grove is not without serious problems it has fared well relative to other regions, perhaps due to its more remote location and its distance from the terrorist attacks. Actually, in some ways it is thriving. With the recent arrival of a resourceful and well-organized religious sect, the town is in the midst of a rebirth of sorts, only as the title implies, this world is made without the benefit of machines. In some ways World Made by Hand explores some topics that aren’t often considered in this type of fiction. For example, with the often brutally shortened lifespans, particularly among the male population, the protagonist Robert sees more than his fair share of “activity” with the ladies shall we say. Though there is a certain religious vein throughout the book, Robert, who is a basically good man, is not necessarily a subscriber to God and acts somewhere on the fringes of Christian morality. For the people left in this world, the abundance of “free love”, pot and alcohol offers them only a small reprieve from their violent and sometimes brutal existence. A certain ingenuity and pioneering spirit flows through the story that this reader found energizing and somehow inspiring. If people can accomplish so much with their bare hands through cooperation, surely we can do even more with all of the machinery and energy at our disposal. World Made by Hand is a good book that should be added to your “must read” post apocalyptic reading list!
Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, The Day is a Canadian independent post apocalyptic film that follows a group of desperate survivors that get caught in a trap set by tribal cannibals. For those of you familiar with The Road, the atmosphere and setting to this story is quite similar. It is set in a bleak and desolate world that has been left barren by some unknown catastrophe. I thought of this movie as taking place in the same world as The Road with a different set of characters in perhaps a different part of the world. Taking this movie for what it is, I enjoyed it. It does have some logic problems though. For example, why does this tribe of cannibals keep coming after a group that has guns. I mean almost all of them are killed as they approach the house in waves but they just keep coming. Why would they risk the lives of so many of their own clan to get just a few people. After 10 years of post apocalypse survival surely they would learn that only practical energy is worth expending or they would have perished already? Considering that this is an independent film without a big Hollywood budget, this film isn’t bad. If you need a break from zombies and want a fix of doom and gloom, The Day might be for you. Beware though, these cannibals aren’t much smarter than zombies.
Considered to be a science fiction classic, Walter Miller’s A Canticle For Leibowitz, first published in 1960, is one of the best known post apocalyptic novels.
Spanning some 2000 years into the future, its vast sense of scope and depth is mesmerizing. Worthy of dissection in a literature class, the treasures are plentiful in these pages and clearly beyond the scope of this short review.
After a full-scale nuclear war, a small order of Catholic Monks strive to preserve a collection of scientific and historical records for posterity. This small monastery, located in the southwestern United States, struggles for centuries to preserve and protect the remnants of a forgotten age. Initially, the monastery is organized to safeguard scientific records during the violent anti-technology backlash that follows the great “Flame Deluge”.
Later, over the centuries, documents and parts of ancient books are carefully preserved from decay through the passing of time. The story progresses through several eras covering a nearly 2000 year time span.
Often viewed as a cautionary tale, A Canticle for Leibowitz explores the repetitive nature of the rise and fall of civilizations and the inevitable destruction that seems to be the pinnacle of mankind’s technological progress. Obviously, the story is religiously oriented though it does not promote any particular religion. In fact, the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church is often the object of the author’s discourse. Some of the extensive Latin dialogue and references may be considered tedious by some, however, it does add to the grand scope of the book.
While A Canticle for Leibowitz is not light reading, it is brimming with insight, satire and imagination and is certainly a must read for connoisseurs of apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic fiction.
The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse is an enjoyable collection of speculative short stories featuring a fine variety of different apocalyptic scenarios. Zombies, plague, solar flares, collapse, alien invasions, even an ancient apocalypse from the perspective of a long dead medicine man. While each of these stories share an apocalyptic element, they are otherwise quite unique in terms of structure, style and setting.
Reading The Fall was an interesting experience. By viewing the apocalypse from so many different perspectives one sees that the apocalyptic story is indeed as old as death itself. These are tales about death but also offer a glimmer of hope for a potential rebirth.
A few of these apocalyptic short stories are worthy of special mention. These include Hairline Cracks, WWBBCDITZA and The Last Sacrifice. Ryan Graudin’s Hairline Cracks gives us an entirely new angle on the zombie phenomenon, suggesting that a connection remains between the souls of the living and their reanimated corpses. WWBBCDITZA (which stands for What Would A Big Black Cat Do In The Zombie Apocalypse) is a clever story, written by A.M. Supinger, that speculates on the role of a warrior cat amongst the walking dead. Judy Croome’s The Last Sacrifice leaves us wondering just how many times people have been at the edge of the fall of their civilization and wondered what might come after? Ranging from sorrowful to light-hearted,
The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse is a very thoughtful and entertaining collection of stories that will appeal to quite a wide audience.
Written as a prequel to The Last Pilgrims, W1CK is a compelling story that takes place just days before the devastating apocalyptic war that leads to the return of a new Dark Age. Though W1CK started as a short story, Michael Bunker and Chris Awalt have created a thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly thoughtful and contemplative apocalyptic novel.
W1CK begins as Clay Richter, a disenchanted widower, makes his way through the devastation and aftermath left by Hurricane Sandy as he travels to his country home in Ithaca, New York. Unfortunately, Clay, who is hopelessly unprepared for his journey, stumbles upon a decades old plot, set in motion by secret forces in the former Soviet Union, to destroy the United States. This dark apocalyptic conspiracy is depicted through a steady stream of colorful metaphors and dialogue, creating a deeply human story.
In some ways W1CK is a fictional exploration of the very notion of imprisonment. Initially Clay seeks to escape an invisible prison ruled by consumerism. Later, through a series of unfortunate events, he finds himself in an actual prison filled with dangerous sociopaths. Through his imprisonment, Clay has an epiphany of sorts and realizes that he is indeed imprisoned mainly by his own desires. Regardless of ones political or religious views, isn’t it, in fact our desire for safety and comfort that is the very structure of our jail cell? One of the very causes of our suffering is our constant struggle to escape from suffering. (as if spoken by the Buddha himself! 🙂 )
Conspiracy, espionage, survival and understanding in the early days of the apocalypse, W1CK is quite an enjoyable and insightful book that I can easily recommend.
To celebrate the start of a new year, we are running a giveaway for a great new compilation of apocalyptic short stories called The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse. This is an excellent short story collection featuring thirteen unique tales of destruction. We are giving away an electronic version of this book. Use the form below to enter the giveaway:
The third book of Glen Tate’s economic collapse series 299 Days called The Community is a fascinating exploration into the nature and function of both large and small groups of people and how they form a society. With the world coming apart at the seams in an inflationary depression, many of the functions of modern government have been returned to the community. This is especially true in the Pierce Point area where Grant, his family, friends and neighbors reclaim the burden of responsibility for maintaining their own well-being. Each level of the community, starting with the family unit, cooperates to address specific concerns like safety and security. Grant Matson, being a politically insightful person, uses both his “team” of civilian gunfighters and his ER Doctor wife as political capital to gain access to the Pierce Point’s inner circle. The Community is formed with the premise of providing safety and security for its residents. In contrast, we watch as the government of Washington State, operating from within a National Guard base, is actually using the collapse as an opportunity to increase their control by dissolving many of the remaining civil liberties. They seek to enhance their power by seizing private operations such as the transport and food production in order to provide basic necessities to a large portion of the population, namely the larger urban centers. Additionally, the government has taken over the savings and retirement accounts of millions of people in order to pay for its new safety net. It is really an interesting contrast, with Grant and his people rallying to become more self-sufficient and the government seeking to actually increase public dependence as a way to maintain control and to increase their power. The Community is a very well-considered and detailed account of how new communities may form and how the powers that be may react to a widespread economic collapse. On another level, The Community really is a common sense exploration into the very nature of human cooperation.
Facing the zombie apocalypse alone, Adrian keeps a diary as a way to cope with the unimaginable horror of his new world. Adrian’s Undead Diary chronicles one man’s struggle to survive in a zombie infested apocalypse and is frankly one of the best zombie stories that I have read.
After barely surviving the first day of the apocalypse, Adrian escapes with his cat Otis to his out of town private school bugout location, where he worked as a night dorm monitor. Yes, that’s right, he takes his cat Otis with him! Point scored for us male cat owners! Cats are awesome, by the way and FU to all of you haters! Once Adrian saves his cat Otis, who he fondly refers to as his “homeboy”, I knew that I was going to enjoy this story.
Adrian’s Undead Diary (AUD) is presented as a series of diary posts at http://adriansundeaddiary.com and is written by Chris Philbrook. The story is available for free through the AUD site which boasts a large and active community. Adrian is a great character. His sense of humor and no-nonsense, quick to act attitude make him one kick ass cool dude in my book.
In addition to telling the story of Adrian’s physical battle for survival, the diary also exposes Adrian’s surprisingly realistic emotional struggle with the end of the world. He suffers from survival guilt and blames himself for his inability to save his long time girlfriend. One of my favorite parts of AUD is when Adrian is seen through the perspective of another character that is mentioned in one of his diary entries. For example, the chapter called Soccer Mom details the experience of the chief of police’s wife during the “first day” and she encounters Adrian in the grocery store. I really enjoy how these stories intersect. Hearing another character describe Adrian as they briefly meet is like an out-of-body experience or something. AUD is currently at the top of my list for awesome zombie apocalypse entertainment and I highly recommend it. In fact, I like AUD so much I bought the hat! :
ps. You can get this hat featuring Adrian in a slightly altered MLB design at http://adriansundeaddiary.com/aud-cap.htm which I think is a great way to support and spread the word about AUD!
Update: A of 10/17/16 AUD is available on a Kindle through the link below: