Mad Max, Death, and Justice … Guest blog from Asher.

I was recently contacted by a fella… a quick fella… who altered my perspective on both art and the way Mad Max (Fury Road specifically) can be interpreted.
First off, let me tell you who this guy is… he is an artist that goes by the name of Asher – he “translates discarded tech into artistic pieces.”  His work is simply amazing and I’ve often said that although I have really no idea how to describe it, I love it.  A super cool blending of goth, cyberpunk, horror and abandonded tech… Please take a moment to check out his website.
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Hex-Station

We follow each other on twitter and out of the blue, he asked if I would mind reading his thoughts on Mad Max.  Of course I said “Yes!”, and after reading his words, I immediately told him that this material HAS to be shared with the postapoc  community.  I asked him if he had a blog, to which he replied “No”, so I asked if I could possibly share his thoughts on mine.  I’m glad he said “yes”.
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Chelsea 405

So with no further ado… here’s Asher and his thought provoking wordstuff about the tragic lone wanderer of the wasteland, Max Rockatansky…

I think you have to start with Stone and not Max. Miller draws too heavily on that film. Hell, half the Mad Max cast is from Stone including Hugh who keeps coming back as the god-man and gets crucified every time.
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I’m fairly certain Miller has always looked at this in a very large picture sense, kinda like Dune from Herbert. If you take the body of the these Aussie post-apocalyptic films as a societal tale, then you have a very slow moving progression and not just some action flicks tied together.

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Stone sets the stage for a society that is imploding upon itself by greed, inability to change, and children who need to kill their fathers as a rite of passage but clings too hard to the old ways. That clinging is brought back up in every single one of his films too. This is why I’m fairly certain Stone sets that stage and he plays upon it.

MM falls apart because they’re using old laws to govern a new form of human society and the hero is stripped of everything he holds dear because he tried to uphold those laws in spite of everything.

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In MM-RW, they’re clinging to the old form of power still (gas) and again, Max only is victorious when he is the harbinger to destroy that dependence.  We’re more or less told that’s the last bastion of gas production.  Without him, Humongous would have taken the refinery and become a king. 

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In MM and BT, both the Kids cling to the old ways as well as Bartertown. The Kids cling to the HighScrapers and the Rivers of Light.  Bartertown exists because they crave capitalism. Max destroys them both.  And in Fury Road, he finally kills the father and puts to rest that old world. More on that…

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Hugh is in all three flicks representational of the Father but he’s also fully aware of Death waiting for him. It’s evident in the script, the actions, and the costumes (in Miller’s pieces). That also puzzles me as to how it’s missed. He didn’t have to use this guy again, but here he is and really in FR he’s passed into a mythical realm already.

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Fury Road… Miller had choices here. BIG ones. He had money and backing, so he had free reign on this. And this is the one thing that I am shocked no one picks up on. Look over Homer’s Odyssey… It’s more or less the story of FR. The River of Lethe, Charybdis, the Sirens, etc., etc., etc.  Max has passed into the stuff of mythos now.

My  proof that this is no longer a reality or part of the world Max was from… the steering columns on the cars and trucks – they are on the left side, the US side. Not Oz, hell not even any former Brit colony. That was a very, very conscious choice. He started production in Oz. They built most of the cars in Oz. Yet why the left side drive?  They actually had to import those vehicles to produce that. Far greater expense and load on the production. This, to me, is a keystone or a cypher that he’s used to give us a clue.

Trust me I don’t really give a shit about uncovering most film or books. I’m really ok with face value since that’s usually how it’s to be viewed/read. But it struck me in the theatre how much like the Odyssey FR was. Then, about a month later, I was welding and replaying the flick in my head, the steering columns really hit me hard.

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Miller’s story boards for FR some 20+yrs ago… I think they are now pretty much EXACTLY like the film. He’s calculating and deeply committed to the story – this is not a man out to make a fortune on an action flick. This is a man creating a classic piece of art that just happens to be couched in the guise of an action flick. He’s not without irony, appealing to a base form of entertainment to tell us a deeply insightful tale of humans – pretty much just like Homer.  I may be totally off base and batshit crazy, but I kinda think I’m close to the bone on this one. I’d imagine when Homer sat in a rotunda and made a couple of bucks reciting his next installment for Friday night entertainment, it wasn’t seen as a classic to them. It was just good adventure and fun.

What I find a thing of pure beauty in FR, as well is how we are shown this, is the realm of Ether and humans are but players for the God’s. The scene that did that for me was where Nux was told by Max to “tie to that thing…”,  “You mean the tree?”. Nux had never seen a tree. And here we are in the land of death, on the edge of the river Lethe, using the tree of life to run from Death/Justice.
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I seriously was just stunned when I saw that.  Max shoots out the eyes of Death/Justice and now it’s blind as it needs to be to exact it’s purpose.
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This is story telling at it’s most epic and sublime. Don’t get me wrong I loved Miller and the Max franchise before. But at this moment he passed to the level of praise and respect very few will ever see from me.
I’m rarely impressed, but Miller has left me kind of speechless. I just hope he lives long enough to finish it.
Because it’s going to be fucking epic when it’s completed.

You can find Asher on Twitter and his website, where he uses flame and steel to create something from nothing.  Please take a moment to visit, I assure you won’t be disappointed!

 

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Slipstream… it doesn’t suck nearly as much as you might think.

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First off, I want to thank Barry P. of Cinematic Catharsis for asking me to join the Nature’s Fury Blogathon!  The subject matter this go ’round is Nature vs. Mankind.  In the words of Barry P., “…this is a blogathon about our eternal struggle with flora, fauna, and the elements.

I decided to go with a film that has a bit of a fan following… 1989’s Slipstream.

Maybe not a “cult classic”, (you know what, screw it… it IS a cult classic!) but there are those of us who actually really dig it.  It pits man against good old planet Earth and let me tell you… she is PISSED!!!


Oh, and hey… I’ve never participated in something like this before, so be gentle with me… it’s my first time. 😉

Alright then, let’s get to the movie!


From the depths of the Earth.

To the edge of existence.

The hunt is on…

 

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By the end of the century, man’s destruction of the Earth’s environment turned the forces of nature upon him.  There are many stories about the converging earthquakes that split continents apart – mixing civilizations together… about the floods that buried the cities and the emergence of a river of wind called the Slipstream that washed the planet clean.  Those stories all happened years ago, but this story is about a fugitive, traveling the Slipstream, who needed a friend.


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 First off, Slipstream was blasted by critics and generally despised upon its release.

 Why do I tell you that from the get-go? Because for me it was one of those movies that, after you watch it, you say to yourself – “Why did everyone hate this thing so much?”

To which I reply… “I dunno… it’s really kind of awesome.”


Slipstream is a post-apocalypse movie, or perhaps more specifically, a post-cataclysm movie.  Sometime in the future (we’re not told when), the Earth decides to rebel against mankind’s abuse and issues forth great calamities… earthquakes, floods, etc.

These events became known as The Convergence.  The Earth cracked and continents shifted.  Mountains rose and fell, oceans drained and flooded areas that had never seen water.  Cities were buried.   Our way of life was forever altered.

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Life goes on and people once again established communities.  People found residence within cave-ridden canyon walls.   They now shared their new home with others who were at one time thousands of miles away.

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The only real mode of transportation anymore is flight.  A massive river of air, aptly named the Slipstream, circles the globe and is used by folks to get from point A to point B.  You can often see scratch-built airplanes and hot air balloons overhead.


 

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Our story begins with a law enforcement officer (or what passes for one in this primitive landscape), Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), hunting down an escaped murder, Byron (Bob Peck).  He is quickly captured and taken to a nearby settlement where we are introduced to Matt (Bill Paxton), a free-spirited bounty hunter.  Matt sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and makes off with Byron to claim the bounty as his own.  Tasker and Belitski soon give chase and the adventures ensue.  The group ends up battling the elements at every turn, getting caught… escaping… running into a religious cult that worships the wind as though it is some kind of God… and finding a sanctuary of lost art and knowledge.

Yes, there is most definitely a story here.  Each character is on a mission…

 

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Matt… the young, headstrong, free-spirited bounty hunter who knows there is more to life than what he’s been dealt, but lacks the maturity to fully realize it.  His is a tale of growth.

 

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Byron… the man who wants nothing more than to dream and find others of his kind.  Although considered a murderer, his is a confusing tale and may well be worth the admission price alone.

 

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Tasker… Living life by the book and bringing justice to the wasteland of the old world.  Almost Max Rockatansky’esque,  he will use any means necessary to capture his prey.  There are no grey areas with him, only black and white.

 

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Belitski… She tags along with Tasker, but things aren’t so cut and dry with her.  Secretly she hopes for something better.  By the end of the film, you find out if she finds it.

 


 

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The film was produced by Gary Kurtz and directed by Steven Lisberger (who also directed TRON).   Kurtz was, at one time, the second half of the George Lucas team… producing both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  Kurtz and Lucas split before Return of the Jedi and Kurtz went on to produce The Dark Crystal.

Hoping that Slipstream would be his “Star Wars”,  for one reason or another the film ultimately failed and ended up bankrupting Kurtz.


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Made in 1989, it wouldn’t be until 1992 that I would finally get to see this.  I went into a Blockbusters (remember those?) and saw it sitting amongst the other “straight to video” SciFi movies.

To be honest, I thought it was just pretty good;  until right about 15 minutes into it.

There was a song – more particularly, This Big Area by Then Jericho.  To understand why it affected me so much, we’d have to got back a couple of years and spend some time in a hot and dry part of the world full of nothing but sand, blood, and fear.

At the time, I was stationed in Germany.  A couple of days before we left for Iraq, I went to the PX and tried to think of any last-minute items I wanted to grab.  On a whim, I found an album by a group I’d never heard of to provide companionship to my Planet P Project, DEVO, and Rocky Horror Show soundtrack.

I took a chance and loved it!  That was one of four albums I took with me to the desert.  When I heard their music in this film,  I became flooded with nostalgia.  To this day, when I hear that music, it takes me right back to 1991.


The acting is damned good – as well it should be, considering the names involved… Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, Kitty Aldridge, Bob Peck, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley, and F. Murray Abraham.

I mean, c’mon… look at Hamill for instance… what a badass!  Bob Peck is simply incredible.  Paxton is… well, Paxton, and Coltrane… I bet you’d hardly recognize him.

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So , maybe you’ve asked yourself at some point “Why should I bother with this thing”… or “I’ve seen it, it sucked… why should I watch it again?”

To which I’d reply, there’s a story here… there’s more than one in fact.  Forget the special effects… each and every character has a story and a damned good one at that.

From a young hothead looking for a quick buck to finance his dream… to a cop who is trying to make the world a better place by following the word rather than the spirit of the law… to an android who wants nothing more than to be with his own kind… to a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants until she see’s it right in front of her…

Yes, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.  If you’ve never seen it, try it out.  If you’ve already watched it, give it another chance… it might not suck nearly as much as you thought…

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But wait!  There’s more!  As a special added bonus… here is a video of the making of Slipstream.  Enjoy!

 

 

The Future Drift…Guest Blog from Drew Avera

It’s been at least a couple of years since I first met Drew Avera (real quick – his last name is pronounced “averee”… yeah, I know… I screwed it up too).  I’d read a few of his books (in fact, a couple of them were some of the earliest ebooks I had downloaded) and then ended up running into him on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ve often conversed about various story ideas and I’d pick his brain about his indie-author career.

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Drew’s been writing for a while now and has quite a library of stories.  It’s pretty crazy to see this much work come from someone with a full-time military career.  Drew is a Navy Veteran and that is one of the things that drew (Ha!) me to him.  One of the things that amazed me about him is the fact that he wrote his first book on an iPhone… yes, an iPhone.  How cool is that!

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Drew has recently been involved with some amazing anthologies… in fact, I remember when he just had a few books under his belt  – looking at his Amazon page today, it’s amazing to see how his library of work has grown.

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Let’s let Drew talk about his time at sea and how those experiences may well qualify him to crew a deep space starship one day…


One Hundred Days…

That’s the roundabout number of days it takes me to start shutting down on a deployment. It’s at this point when everyone around me starts getting on my nerves, the feeling of being a sardine packed tightly into a can makes me feel claustrophobic, and mild depression starts setting in. One-hundred days. It is a threshold learned over the course of four combat deployments on US Navy ships and it is part of the reason I write science fiction.

It is Memorial Day, at least right now it is, as my fingers strike the keys of my keyboard. A bit of laziness causes a typo, but it isn’t pure laziness, it is the exhaustion of almost two-hundred days of not being home. I’ve had eighteen days off out of the last two-hundred and only two or three more scheduled out of the next forty days. To say my “cycle” is a little off is an understatement, but I’m actually used to this lifestyle in a way a sick child is used to the needles injecting into his/her arm every day. It hurts, but you know it hurts, and then you just don’t care that it hurts.

I sleep in a coffin, six feet long, three feet wide, and three feet high. It’s open on one side, though the blue fabric curtain offers something like privacy. It’s low-tech in a high-tech world. I’m drifting on a war vessel capable of destruction the world hopes to never see and I am so numb to it that I barely recognize it for what it is. It’s the future exposed in the modern world. The confinement, the isolation, the stress, all of it will carry forward into the future drift as humanity expands its reach to the stars. We learn and we adapt to our surroundings. Sometimes it hurts, but eventually the pain of it dissolves, or we grow numb to it. This is how mankind will be taught to traverse their way into the unknown.

Deployments have extended, my own is no exception, the blow of knowing you will not be home on time tears a hole in your soul. The patchwork of moving past such heartache is the same as the numbing agent of making it one more day, followed by the next, and the next, and the next. Eventually, the days all stream together into an incoherent mass, indistinguishable from one another. It makes you feel a bit crazy to lose the concept of time, but eventually you are grateful for it, to not have the mark of individual days weighing on you like a burden you can never drop. It is a skill, in and of itself. Mostly, it is a learned trait that will be necessary to take us beyond our solar system, where the light of Sol is only present as a pinprick of light on the monitor feed of a generational spaceship.

The future drift is coming. Space exploration is becoming a privatized industry as governments fall out of competition and let the common man take over. I think it is better this way. Governments only serve to get in the way of expansionism, to use politics to say why we can’t do something. Instead, we will figure out how we can do it and then break those barriers down as we carry ourselves further into the expanse. Mars will be our neighbor, followed soon by the moons of the outer gas planets. Before long, the solar system will not contain us, though we will still be contained. The point when everyone starts getting on each other’s nerves, the feeling of being a sardine packed tightly into a can making them feel claustrophobic, and mild depression starts setting in. and then we will do it all over again, relearn new traits to deal with the pain, the isolation, the subjugation of captivity in the vacuum of space.

There’s a part of my soul that wishes to experience this, but I know I would hate it, and love it, and hate it. We romanticize what it would be like to explore the universe. We experience it in short duration as we watch television and movies depicting the dreams of mankind on a screen, the adventure laced with drama unfolding before our eyes. Those depictions leave out the innumerable moments of mere existence that carried the crew to the uncharted worlds they discover. Were they frozen in time, sleeping away relentless years without stirring, or were they awake for the ride, trapped in their own coffins to sleep away their lonely nights after a long days work? And what happens to day and night when the light of stars is too dim to distinguish one from the other? Will mankind care or will it become the numbed pain of learned association, the mind dealing with existence in a way that disassociates the person from reality, if only for a short while?

The future drifts, requiring us to learn what is necessary to take the next leap forward. Space exploration will not be abridged, shortened to eliminate the dull moments; the ones that make you feel alone in a sea of people, the ones where you miss home. The guarantee of adventure is as weak as the guarantee of immortality. Some lives may pass with nary a moment of exhilaration as other lives are bent and molded by new worlds, the challenge of adaptation forbearing in a way we can only imagine with weary eyes before we drift to sleep at night.

I’ve thought about it as I’ve been lulled to sleep by the gentle crash of waves against the ship. What would it be like to be anywhere but where I am now? What if I could change time and put myself in the future, in the drift of space, carried forward by momentum gained years prior? That is how we will explore, on the thrust of the generations who went before us. Can I count myself as that generation, or am I part of the world of forgotten scientific advancement? Are our achievements capable of being measured because they are important now? Or will the future nullify all we know in order to accommodate new sciences that will fit into their view of the universe? It’s hard not to want to know the answers, but what if they are disheartening? What if we never reach towards the stars? Is it a bigger crime than being forgotten by the sands of time?

Maybe, I just think about it too much. As the future drifts, so do I, upon the sea that countless generations sailed. There is a brotherhood of the sea, where men like me missed their families too. Perhaps they dared to dream of a future like I do, or perhaps they longed for the seas to dry and negate the need for ships that drive wedges between them and their families. Both are hopeful and hopeless, a duality, like a double-edged sword you are cut either way. Instead, I won’t think about the pain of the cut, but on the hopefulness of the future, drifting further away while being close enough I deceive myself in thinking I can touch it, to taste it, to smell its existence.

We will be among the stars again, because it is the stars from which we were born. Perhaps not our bodies, but in our dreams; born for more than the universe as we know it, but as we want it to be, and more.


Drew Avera, author of The Dead Planet Series, is a science fiction author and active duty Navy veteran. He lives in Virginia with his wife and children. You can learn more about Drew by visiting his website at www.drewavera.wordpress.com

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Please take a moment to check out Drew’s Amazon page.

I want to thank Drew for writing this guest post for my blog.   Thanks, Drew!

Oh, did I mention that Drew has recently been absorbed into The Collective and chosen to be a Scribe for The God Machine?

No?

Huh…

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You can find Drew at the following locations when he’s not tethered to an omnipotent machine or sailing the seas…

Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A Corporately Sponsored Apocalypse – Guest Blog by Joe Turk…

I’m often contacted by authors who ask if I wouldn’t mind reading their work and posting a review.  I try not to make a habit of this as it makes me uncomfortable, so my answer is usually “I’m sorry, but no.”

But once in a while, one will come along and my gut tells me to do it.  Such is the case with Joe Turk and his book, Making Monsters.  Joe seemed a bit apprehensive about asking me to take a look at it as he worried it wasn’t something that fit perfectly into my preferred genre.  After taking a quick glance at a sample on Amazon, I found that it looked incredibly interesting and Joe seemed like a very talented fella.  In fact, I was so impressed with his writing, artwork, his quick wit and personality, that I asked if he’d write a guest blog.

I’m really glad he said yes.

I’m a big fan of knowing the why’s and wherefore’s of apocalypse tales.  Joe does an amazing job of painting a picture (Ha!) of a world that reminded me of Dr. Strangelove meets the Lovecraftian Mythos.  The thing is… he is using real-world events – things that are actually going on right now, that may very well result in a very, very unhappy ending.

So, with no further ado, here’s Joe Turk…


 

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Dystopian humor with an apocalyptic chaser…

Since the start of things, doomsayers have walked dirt paths, ringing bells and warning all within shouting range about the end of days. Over time, these harbingers of doom became part of our literary and cinematic history. I can’t think of an apocalyptic story that doesn’t have a character sounding an alarm and warning everyone to prepare for disaster. So when I sat down to write a predictive tale about the last days of man on earth, I knew I wasn’t writing a new story. This made ask, why bother writing it all? Does the world need another cautionary tale? There are enough novels about the apocalypse. Why don’t I just order a pizza and level up my warlock?

And then my house started shaking again. Stuff would fall off the walls and I could hear the wood structure above my ceiling popping and creaking. Here’s the thing, we have ‘manmade’ earthquakes where I live. Before 2008, we had two or three a year. (Magnitude 3.0 or bigger) Then we became ground zero for hydraulic fracking. Two years later, in 2010, we had 45 quakes. Last year we had 857. Yes, from two or three per year, to 857 earthquakes in a single year.

So everything is rattling around and I’m sitting on the couch thinking, somebody should really do something about this. This is craziest thing I’ve ever experienced. There’s a group of people sitting around a conference table, orchestrating manmade-natural disasters for profit. If this were a movie, there’d be an arch villain behind an ornate desk, tenting his fingers and counting his gold coins. Except this isn’t a movie. This is really happening.

I was getting very upset about my house getting twisted apart by people I can only assume are trying to break some kind of record for wealth collection. So I started writing down ways I might find and murder those at the top of the responsibility ladder. At first, I had no plans to publish anything. It was anger management therapy. A vent for my earthquake related anxieties. I had to purge the rage so I didn’t end up like Ted Kaczynski, eating wild berries and taping matchsticks together. But the earthquakes kept happening. At this point, I started restructuring my murder notes into a story and researching details about other environmental disasters.

K8Es2LBOThis fiery sinkhole was created almost fifty years ago by a Russian drill rig in Turkmenistan. The ground collapsed and methane gases started escaping. They lit the hole on fire, thinking it’d burn off the gas in a few days. It’s still burning. You can see it on google maps right now.

 

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This is a 750 yard long crack in the ground that opened up overnight in Wyoming last October. They do a lot of fracking out there in Wyoming. It’s hard not to think this spontaneous canyon is related to the practice of exploding chemicals beneath the ground.

The more nonfiction I read, the more I believe in the possibility, or inevitability, that we will create bigger and more catastrophic disasters as our technology advances. If you believe in the butterfly effect, it’s easy to think we’ve already set off a chain reaction of catastrophes that will eventually make the newly named ‘Anthropocene era’ the shortest, and perhaps last, era on the planet earth.

For reasons I probably shouldn’t detail publicly, this idea pleases me. If I’m honest, I root for the disasters in disaster movies. I watch the hero disassembling the nuclear bomb and quietly pull for it to explode. Sure, the practical, homeowner side of me wants the earthquakes to stop. I’m pro-environment. Let’s save the world! But I’m also pro-apocalypse. And the irresponsible kid in me that loves apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories wants to see the spectacle promised by the collapse of a civilization thought too big to fail. Who knows, it might be a good thing. Maybe a reboot is the catharsis the species needs. If nothing else, it’ll provide answers to the questions posed by artists, musicians, and writers for centuries now: will human beings stay civilized if our infrastructure collapses and people are forced out of their automated, daily routines? Or will the sophistication peel off as we return to a more animalistic nature. How will we behave if the buildings come down and we have to live off the land again?  The apocalypse and post-apocalypse promise to teach us something about ourselves.

Until that day, I’ll be over here yelling about environmental catastrophes and ringing my doomsday bell. Forgive me if I do this with an excited smile on my face.

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So there he is… Joe Turk.  Remember his name – I bet you’ll be hearing more of it in the coming years.  You can find him on Amazon , Twitter, Goodreads, and DeviantArt.

I highly recommend his book, Making Monsters.  It is, in his own words, “More like dystopian humor with an apocalyptic chaser.

Before we go, I’d like to showcase some his artwork.  Joe is an incredible artist and his style is amazing!  He posts his artwork on DeviantArt and Twitter, often showing the varying stages, from concept to final product.  Awesome stuff!

This painting is about being tethered to multiple, sometimes incompatible, personalities. “Knots” — Oil on canvas…

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“The Complainer”…

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This painting is about pretending to be something you’re not and ending up with something you didn’t want…

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