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