My favorite End o’the World Books of 2016…

I know it’s 2017, but it’s barely 2017 and seeing as how I’d (hopefully) be late for my own funeral, I figured it wasn’t too late to talk about my favorite end-of-the-world stories from 2016.

I don’t keep track of how many books I read in a year… I should probably start doing that. I’ve also never made a favorites list for those that were… well, my favorites.  I should probably start doing that too.  I should probably say something to the effect that although some/all of these may not have been published in 2016, I read them in 2016.  They are not in any kind of order – they’re all my fav’s.

The covers are linked to the book’s Amazon page and you can click on the author’s name to go to their website/amazon page.

So, here we go…

 

 

All the Elders Orphans by Melissa Dykes

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Ms. Dykes did an amazing job at making me despise or revere the characters in this book.

There were unbelievably sweet moments and absolutely horrendous ones… something one might expect in a broken world like this.

The female lead was superbly done and I appreciate how Ms. Dykes wrote her. This is a very brutal world and as much as I like to think I’d be some badass survivor, I’m not sure I could be as strong as she is.

I don’t recall there being a single spelling or grammatical error that took me out of the story – a real feat in this day and age.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who enjoy post-apocalypse stories.

 

Arch City Apocalypse: The Low Lying Lands Saga Volume 2 by Bob Williams

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A fantastic second book in the Low Lying Lands Saga, and I daresay that I enjoyed it better than the first. Another non-stop romp through the wasteland that was once America.

Prescott is “every man”… totally relate-able. I’d venture to guess we’ve all known a Prescott, or perhaps even been a Prescott. He’s just a great character.

The SciFi pop-culture references are one of my favorite things about these two books and Williams is a master of it here. One minute I’m terrified at what I just read, the next I’m laughing… good stuff!!!

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed story about a few folks trying to take down a seriously bad dude – I highly recommend this one.

 

Uroboros Saga Book 6 by Arthur Walker

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Once again, Arthur Walker hits it outta the park. Seriously, how does this guy do it?! I would go so far as to say that this may very well be my favorite one so far.

From the opening chapter, I knew that this was gonna be a helluva ride and I was right. There are long-wondered questions answered, but (in pure Arthur Walker fashion) more rise up. That’s a good thing because it means there’ll be more books!

One thing that really struck me in this latest book is the author’s ability to present incredibly fantastic tech as totally tangible, real, and believable. Not only tech, but things that surpass the technological and into the, well – almost magical. He has an amazing way to allow the reader take all of these wonderful concepts for granted – we don’t know how they work, we just know they do and that’s good enough.

This series ventures headlong into hard scifi and I would have no issue placing this author’s books right alongside those of Niven, Robinson, Clarke, and Pohl.  If you’d like to read some insight to the series, you can do so here in an interview back in 2015… Identity Extensive Technology and “Going Delta” – An Interview With Arthur H. Walker.

 

Making Monsters by Joe Turk

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Joe Turk describes Making Monsters as “dystopian humor with an apocalyptic chaser.” I’d say that hits the gnat right in the ass. The humor can be fairly dark, but this is story about the end of things, so that goes without saying. We get to travel along with the characters as the world is being broken right before our eyes. It’s like Doctor Strangelove meets the Cthulhu Mythos. I never once got bored reading Making Monsters and if it wasn’t for this ridiculous thing called being an adult and having to work, I would have read it in one setting.

I absolutely enjoyed the hell out of this book. There’s a cautionary tale going on here and I’m not quite sure if I should pass it off as fantasy or be scared to death that something like this might happen. Ya never know…

I enjoyed this story so much, I asked Joe if he’d write a guest post for my blog. You can read it here if you’d like… A Corporately Sponsored Apocalypse.

Oh, and did you know that Mr. Turk is currently working on an animated web-series based on Making Monsters?  No?  Well, you do now!  Check it out, it’s really great!

 

The Wizard Killer – Season 1: A Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Serial by Adam Dreece

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I very much favor “Man with No Name” stories and that is one of the reasons I’m so attracted to The Wizard Killer.

Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Where is he going, and what keeps him putting one foot in front of the other?

One of the things that really sucked me into this story was that the main character wakes up with no clear recollection of who or where he is. He’s apparently a man who harbors some kind of magical power… but he just can’t really figure out what the hell is going on.

I felt very empathetic towards the main character. He seems to react the same way I would in his situations… essentially standing there, looking around, and muttering “I’m hungry, I’m lost, I’m pissed off, and everyone keeps trying to kill me… What the hell?!?!”

It is a compelling story. I want (who am I kidding… I “have”) to know what is going on. Who is this guy and what killed the world?

I felt like I was trudging along the blasted landscape with this him, often muttering “What the yig?!” under my breath.

This is like Mad Max meets Lord of the Rings… I mean, we’ve got magic in a post-apocalyptic wasteland…. how does it get better than that!

I highly recommend this post-apocalyptic fantasy tale from Adam Dreece!

 

The Eternal Season (The Swallowed World Book 1) by Tyler Bumpus

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I’ve been wracking my brain for the past 12 hours trying to figure out just how to express how much I liked this book.

There is world building going on here the likes of which I have not seen for a long, long time. A future North American continent that has been laid waste by not only geological catastrophes and apocalyptic weather, but also by war, famine, and disease. All of these things lead to a perfect storm that literally breaks the world. The book was reminiscent of Aftermath by LeVar Burton and The Road.

Amongst all of this ruin, there is incredible technology still being used. It’s an amazing blend of a technological society living in a new dark age. There is also a hint of the evolution of human beings and a hope that something better may rise out of this broken world, although I have a sneaking suspicion that things are gonna get worse before they get better.

The characters of this story…. wow. You’re going to run the range of emotions with them. I very much liked the fact that the main character count was kept low. I often have a hard time following who’s doing what when I’m having to follow a bunch of different characters. Kudos to Mr. Bumpus for keeping it simple and letting me get to really know a select few instead of hardly getting to know a bunch.

This story is for mature readers. There is not a lot of terrible violence spread throughout, but there is one particular part that… well, when you get there, you’ll know it.

The author graciously included a glossary, which to be honest, is worth the price of the book alone. It’s a story in and of itself. Not to mention maps and chapter art. You can tell that Mr. Bumpus put a tremendous amount of work into this story and to say I’m excited to read new books as they come out is an understatement.

Tyler wrote a guest blog for me last year. You can read it here… Birth Pangs: Interpreting Our Post-Apocalyptic Nightmare.

 

Hood: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel (American Rebirth Series Book 1) by Evan Pickering

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Wow…

This is a damned good book.

I’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction… a LOT, and I have to say that this is a solid five-star story.

What did I like about it? The characters. Mr. Pickering is able to bring these characters to life. They are people that you know… hell, they might even be you! Make no mistake, I like to have some ass-kicking in my wastelands, but it is often rare that I actually end up actually caring about the characters. Mr. Pickering does a fantastic job of making the reader despise a character, yet love them at the same time (and sometimes, just the opposite). They make decisions that, when you really think about it, we might very well make in the same situation.

It is often a rare thing when I feel a book is character-driven, but the author has simply done a wonderful job at doing just that.

I highly recommend this one.

 

After Armageddon (Book of Luka Series Book 1) by Brian Dorsey

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Perhaps best known for this military SciFi series, Gateway, this is actually Brian’s second post-apocalyptic tale (his first, Hope, is available on Wattpad).

This is a brutal and interesting dark romp through the apocalypse.

A speculative take on the theological aspect of Armageddon, the story follows a rather eclectic cast of characters trying to survive the End Times and push back the demons that have laid waste to the planet.

The theological theme may sway some readers, but being someone of an open mind and a love for stories in this genre, I very much liked it. There is some harsh language and violence, but let’s face it, Armageddon ain’t gonna be all daisies and kittens.

 


 

And there you have it!  Thanks for reading and please, check out these authors and their work.

My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1990’s…

The 90’s…. it was only a decade prior to this one that I was just a kid.  Now I was a soldier, a combat veteran, a college graduate, a husband (well, for a year anyway – Gads, what an utter slut!), and working man.  Didn’t stop my inner nerd from enjoying that which I enjoyed most… post-apocalypse movies!!!

The 90’s were known for being the decade in which we moved from practical effects to full-blown CG.  It was amazing how things changed in just ten years!

As always, click the poster to watch a trailer, clip, or full movie.

 

12 Monkeys – Based on a 1962 French independent film called La Jetée, 12 Monkeys was directed by Terry Gilliam.  This is without a doubt, one of my favorite PA movies of all time.  For those who did Terry Gilliam, this is a masterpiece.  For those who may not dig Brad Pitt, this (as well as his role in Se7en) is my favorite role.  He is simply superb.

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Delikatessen – A French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (he’s also known for City of Lost Children and Alien: Resurrection… two films I happen to enjoy even though it seems everyone else does not).  Starring Dominique Pinon (Jeunet likes to use him in most of his films), the movie takes place at some point in time that is fairly vague.  It is in an obvious post-apoc setting (most likely nuclear war).  The movie takes place almost exclusively within a hotel and is character driven.  I highly recommend this one…

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Escape From L.A. – Ahhh… Snake Plissken is back!  Like its predecessor, this isn’t necessarily postapoc, but rather dystopian.  You’ll either hate it or love it.  I love it.  The original script had been written by Coleman Luck and John Carpenter thought it was too campy, but Kurt Russell pressed him to make the film.  I’m glad he did.

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Fist of the North Star – Sorta, kinda, a little bit based on the manga, the 1995 film was direct to video and when one watches it, one can see why.  That being said, the atmosphere of the movie is just very cool even if the acting isn’t…

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Hardware – This one has become a cult classic and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.  The soundtrack alone is worth it.  There are a couple of cool cameos, Iggy Pop, Lemmy (R.I.P.), and William Hootkins (remember him?  he played Porkins in the original Star Wars film).  Hootkins’ character (Lincoln) is deliciously creepy, as is most of the film.

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The Matrix – I don’t really have to say much about this one, do I?  Is there a person on this planet who hasn’t seen it?  I won’t be talking about the 2nd and 3rd films as the first one is the only one I really enjoyed.  It was new, it was fresh, it was freaking awesome!

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Mindwarp – Now, this one here… this one might not be so well-known.  Starring Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm (those two actors oughta catch your attention!), it was one of the few films produced by Fangoria Films (so you know it was good and gory).

The world has fallen to nuclear war.  Cannibalistic mutants thrive on the surface while those who were lucky enough to get underground, spend their time jacked into The System and living their lives in a virtual reality paradise.

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Neon City – Starring Michael Ironside, how could this suck!  Ironside is an ex-cop turned bounty hunter.  The world has been laid waste by ecological disasters and there are often “Brights” (some kind of sun flare that kills people) and Xander Clouds (some kind of cloud that kills people).

Don’t let that fool you, it’s actually really good…

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Omega Doom – This one right here…. this is one of my absolute favorite postapoc flicks of all time.  Don’t ask me to explain why… the acting sucks, the effects suck… there’s just something about it.  Definitely one of those “so bad it’s good” flicks.

Starring Rutger Hauer (that’s probably a large part of its appeal), and…. well, that’s about it.  Oh yes, it also stars Anna Katarina and apparently she’s kind of famous, so…

Omega Doom is simply a re-telling of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.  A “man with no name” tale that we’ve seen many times before… except this time, it’s after a nuclear apocalypse and the characters are androids.  Tempted?  Damned straight!

I liked this movie so much, I wrote a blog post specifically about it.  You can find that here if you’re so inclined.

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The Postman – Loosely based on The Postman by David Brin, this movie holds a special place in my memory as I was living where it was filmed at the time.  From what I understand, Brin had some concern as he didn’t want the film to be too “Mad Max’ish” and wanted to make sure the character retained his soul.  I’d say it was a success.

The movie is just wonderful and the message of hope portrayed is palpable.

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The Postman: The Movie and the Book


Robot Jox – Giant fighting robots after a nuclear war.  Need I say more?

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Six-String Samurai – Man… how do I even describe this thing?  A katana-wielding, Buddy Holly’esque road warrior?

Yeah, that’ll do nicely…

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Split Second – Like Escape From New York and it’s sequal, Split Second is not really postapoc, but rather dystopian in theme.  London is flooded and sitting under a couple feet of water.  Hauer plays a burnt-out cop who discovers a sequence of murders that strike a nerve.  Hauer’s performance is worth the admission price alone. Lots of good actors in this one.  I highly recommend it…

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The Stand – I first read The Stand in 1990, while serving with 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment during Desert Storm.  Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of Stephen King… wait, let me rephrase that – I used to be, but no longer… ever since the late 90’s.  I’m not going to go into the reasons here as to why I’m no longer a fan.  If you wanna know, shoot me an email or ask me on Twitter.

Needless to say, I loved the screen adaptation and I’m fairly certain I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t…

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Tank Girl – Oh man… another one which folks either love or totally hate.  I love it.  There isn’t anything I don’t enjoy about this flick.  I mean, it’s got Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, and Malcom McDowell?  C’mon!!!

It tries to capture the comic, but if you take it for what it’s worth, I bet you’ll enjoy it too…

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Waterworld – Jeez… the hatred and vitriol that followed this movie – it was not deserving of such negativity.  Did it have its production problems?  Of course it did.  Did that affect the storytelling or visuals?  Absolutely not, IMNSHO.

Yet another love/hate flick.  And yet another one in which you can count me in the “love” camp.  This is simply pure, wonderful, fun, fantasy postapoc fiction.  If you keep trying to insert reality into it, no wonder you hate it…

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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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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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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!

 

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!

 

 

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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BIRTH PANGS: Interpreting Our Post-Apocalyptic Nightmare… a guest blog by Tyler Bumpus

I came across Tyler Bumpus early this past winter of 2016 (February, more specifically) when I read the first book in his Swallowed World post-apocalypse series, The Eternal Season.  I was enthralled… I was amazed… this was one seriously kick-ass PA story.  You can read my review here.

There have been two postapoc stories that have captured my attention this year – this is one of ’em.

I recently asked Tyler if he’d like to write a guest blog for me.  I was pleasantly surprised when he said yes.  Writers are often very busy and I feel very lucky when there are those who take their precious time to write for my blog.

So, without further ado… here is Tyler and his thoughts on  the interpretation of our post-apocalyptic nightmares…

 


 

BIRTH PANGS: INTERPRETING OUR POST-APOCALYPTIC NIGHTMARE…
by Tyler Bumpus

Now stop me if you’ve heard this one:

The world as we know it is gone. Poof. It was nuclear bombs. It was a virus. It was a meteor. Or the living dead, or aliens, or damned dirty apes, or maybe just the slow decay of time. The cause is mostly irrelevant. What matters is that thousands of years of civilization have been scrubbed; the human race left scrounging through the wreckage of its former splendor.

Property Andrew Hefter

Property Andrew Hefter

Whether or not you’re a fan of this kind of story, you know the trademarks—sprawling wastelands, derelict cities, haggard survivors driven to brutality or madness, clinging to their last threads of decency. We’re at the point that it all approaches cliché…sometimes even self-parody.

So what’s the fascination with seeing our cozy way of life rubbed out? Precisely what is the value of post-apocalyptic fiction?

(Aside from all those epic wastelander beards.)

The easy way out is to simply label them ‘cautionary tales.’ They warn us about the danger of nuclear proliferation; of biological warfare; of the cruel instincts inherent in human nature. What-have-you. This is, of course, too pat an answer. It doesn’t begin to explain the sheer creativity, the unpredictability, or the thematic complexity the best post-apocalyptic tales have to offer.

‘Morbid curiosity’ is another popular answer. Deep down most of us are sickos, right? We love a catastrophe. Watch us scour the news for the gruesome bits; crowd the barricades at a crime scene; rubberneck on the freeway for that glimpse of gore. It’s our roots. Survival of the fittest. At heart we are beasts yearning to drop the civilized act; return to the simplicity of a world governed by brute survival and the letting of blood. Apocalyptic tales feed those basest urges…

Tickles the cynic in me, but I call bullshit.

Death and ruin are fascinating, of course, but only because of what they mean for us. A species emerging from the chaos of the primordial world with—inexplicably—higher awareness than most life on earth. What use are such faculties to a mere beast? Intellect makes sense: helps us think up all kinds of ingenious ways to beat back our Darwinian competition. But passion? Aesthetics? Conscience? Hunger for meaning? These seem like serious handicaps for an apex predator.

So, surely the human being is a fluke. A clumsy faceplant on the evolutionary stage. A loopy life form suffering delusions of grandeur as it slowly destroys itself. And that’s what post-apocalyptic fiction is all about.

Phew. Glad that’s settled. Goodnight!

But that hunger for meaning…

The idealist says the world is pregnant with meaning. The nihilist says meaning doesn’t exist. I’ll leave that discussion to them because, frankly, it’s less interesting than the simple fact that most of us crave it. And why? There’s no evidence for any particular motive in nature. In earth’s history, what creature before man has hoped to discover meaning? Furthermore, when none is readily available, what creature has dared fashion its own?

If you’re still with me, what I’m babbling on about is the underlying function of mythmaking and storytelling. To entertain, sure. To inspire, to arouse, to enlighten, to transport. But all of these are half-assed ways of saying that storytelling is a concerted effort to imbue existence with meaning. A feedback loop between dreams and stark reality which helps enrich and elevate our outlook and—perhaps more importantly—our actions.

In less hoity-toity terms: the power of stories lies not in their absolute truth, but in their ability to push us to stop gazing vacantly into the abyss. To forge our own truths.

We need fresh myths like we need fresh air.

Wonderful! How uplifting! But where the hell do post-apocalyptic tales fit into this picture? I mean, we’re talking about stories that shatter our cultures, level our cities, rub our faces in the wreckage of human progress. Huge bummers, right?

Hardly. Our best post-apocalyptic stories are some of the most brutally honest, bravest, most optimistic goddamn stories we have. That’s right: optimistic. What other genre of storytelling imagines that amid the chaos and carnage of hell on earth, the human spirit might somehow abide—even transform?

The apocalypse gets a bad rap. It brings to mind fire and brimstone, damnation and extinction. But what about self-discovery? The word apocalypse itself is derived from the Greek apokaluptein, meaning ‘to uncover.’ To reveal. A metamorphosis through deeper insight. This contrast between the word’s roots and its cataclysmic associations is telling: Pain and terror are the gateway to new life.

The birth pangs of a new world.

If this all sounds terribly dramatic, that’s because it is. It’s an enduring motif throughout world religions and mythologies—Gilgamesh, Hesiod, Ragnarok, the Maha Yuga, the Book of Revelation, etc, etc, ETC. Mythically speaking, the apocalypse is less an ending than a traumatic new beginning.

The world of post-apocalyptic fiction, then, is our spiritual crucible. There is no comfy middle ground here. This place boils away all pretenses, lays bare the human soul in all of its genius and its malady. These stories challenge our self-image. They destroy all the old myths we comfort ourselves with. Strip away our frills, our affectations. Strip us to the bone.

And return us to that primordial chaos from which we first rose.

It’s a terrifying proposition, to be sure. But if nature tells us one thing, it’s that life stagnates in comfort and thrives in risk. In this wasteland, mankind is at last emancipated from tradition, from dogma, from all excuses for our behavior. Each human being is now custodian of their own humanity…and accountable for their own cruelty. The tired old myths are buried. A new human saga begins.

And that, to my mind, is the true value of post-apocalyptic fiction. The dawn of an unpredictable new mythology re-purposed from forgotten fragments of the old; startling new frontiers full of mortal danger and the lingering hope that we may yet rediscover the spark that first ignited our race.

Plus those beards are pretty damn epic.


tylersmall

When he’s not writing or scavenging, you can often find Tyler roaming the wastes at the following coordinates…

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

 

So, what exactly is the Wasteland?… Guest blog by Carrie Bailey

I was recently contacted by author Carrie Bailey, asking me if she could write a guest post on my blog.  Naturally, my reply was “Absolutely!”.

Carrie is self described as a “Writer. Artist. Coffee drinker. Minimalist. Global nomad. Professional information gatherer. Lover of logic. Conversationalist.

I know her as an author of post-apocalyptic fiction and an excellent example of witty banter on Twitter.  Her current book, The Ishim Underground is the story of a young man and a wild boy trying to find a place to hide in what was once New Zealand, 500 years after the apocalypse.

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Here is Carrie’s take on the Wasteland and what that word might actually mean…

 

Wasteland.

1. Barren or uncultivated land <a desert wasteland>

2. A ugly often devastated or barely inhabitable place or area

3. Something (as a way of life) that is spiritually and emotionally arid and unsatisfying
That’s what Merriam-Webster has to contribute to the world’s collective understanding of the term that post apocalyptic writers can’t resist.

To me, it appears the dictionary lacks a depth of understanding of wastelands. In my post apocalyptic series, wasteland refers to a specific region of both jungle and desert. The people on the other end of island call it a waste, a hopeless place full of hopeless people, whereas the inhabitants love their home as much any post apocalyptic writer loves typing the word: wasteland. Do it again. Wasteland.

Feels good for something barren, ugly and arid, but why is that?

 

THE WASTE OF DEFINITIONS

We can easily apply definition three to a Walmart or television or my favorite pub in Wellington, New Zealand, which was strewn with motionless old men and barren beer-soaked wood paneling. These sorts of horrors drain all spiritual and emotional essence from the strongest of us almost instantly. The metaphor certainly can’t reveal how it inspires us.

I suspect the second definition of wasteland is rooted in and popularized by the early imaginings of worldwide nuclear destruction. Ugly is so harsh. Many of the best twentieth century post apocalyptic authors may have been misguided about how a wasteland could be created and how long it would last.

When the camera crews entered the abandoned buildings twenty-five years after the incident at Chernobyl, they found healthy trees and a habitat where deer and other animals thrived undisturbed by human activity. And just as the deepest fears of environmentalists failed to manifest in Pripyat, Ukraine, nuclear power plants and weapons lost their awe-inspiring terror as a catalyst in fiction.

[Insert climate change discussion here]

Whatever we imagine causing environmental destruction, desert and wasteland are not interchangeable terms. A desert may be a wasteland, but a wasteland does not have to be a desert. So, it doesn’t explain why a wasteland is so bad, but feels so good to write about.

The first definition, deconstructed logically, may be inferred to suggest that a wasteland is either bad farmland OR land that has not yet been farmed. That would be awesome if contradictory. Applying “OR” as an operator for Boolean logic, it means it must be bad unfarmed land.

Thinking too deeply, it’s clear the dictionary provides no firm vision of what is a waste and what is not. A desert may not be barren while jungles can be torturous to cultivate. And while there is room in metaphor for me to justify calling a jungle a waste, none of it explains why we love to fantasize about wastelands.

Where does this term come from?

EMPTY ETYMOLOGY

A brief search of the internet about the origin of the term does not help as much as it should unless you want to buy Wasteland: A History for a solid 35.00 USD, which does have some intriguing chapters on the human experience of wastelands. I skimmed the google docs sample.

Unfortunately, like most resources, it skips identifying the early uses of the term and separates waste from land then to their respective origins in English. As waste refers to useless and ruined things, this method of understanding wastelands supports the vision of a wasteland as impossible to cultivate. Empty. Barren. A wasteland is empty and barren, because empty and barren things are a waste.

Should we stop searching for answers now that we are hopelessly lost in a semantic wasteland? No, to find who coined the term waste + land, we have to dig. And we find many references to wastelands being cultivated.

T. S. Elliot wrote The Waste Land – using two separate words – in 1925.

However, if we stick to the English usage of wasteland as a combined term of two separate words, we find multiple early uses surrounding Bengal, British imperialism and the Wasteland Rules of 1838. Apparently, the first applications of the term wasteland have to do with cultivating tea. Assam tea. Along the Assam River. And indirectly denying indigenous inhabitants access to the land by creating biased laws.

And as this region is rather tropical, green, prone to monsoons and one of the most densely populated regions of the world, it can be argued that the original wasteland is the opposite of how we envision a wasteland today.

A wasteland was land that invaders believed was being wasted, because no one was using it. And they prized it highly enough to write laws staking their claim to it.

While the first wasteland may have been morally arid rather than physically barren, it appears the readers and writers of post apocalyptic fiction were right.

A wasteland is in its conception a place of opportunity. A wasted land. A blank canvas of soil and air. Miles of possibility. A place to cultivate life, agriculturally or metaphorically.

And that’s the allure of the wasteland whether it’s a desert or a jungle, they are the acres that stimulate the imagination and inspire.

 

Guest post by Carrie Bailey, author of the immortal coffee novels.  You can find her on Twitter, Amazon, and her website.

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Humanicide – a French Post-Apocalyptic Short Film…

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It must be almost a year ago now when I became interested in this project from the French film studio, Algo Studios.  I had followed them on Twitter and their Facebook Page, and although I don’t speak a lick of French, my computer does, so thank God for technology!  Guillaume and I would sometimes have dialogues back and forth and it was rather fun trying to figure out just what each of us were saying to the other (he does speak excellent English as far as I’m concerned).  Did I mention that I completely and utterly failed Spanish in High School?  Did I also mention that I was placed in a turbo-accelerated Russian Linguist course while in the U.S. Army – only to rock out of that sucker in 8 months?  Yeah, my chances of learning French were slim to none. 😉

 


 

Written and Directed by Guillaume Oger, Humanicide reminded me a bit of Falling Skies (without all of the constant yelling and screaming).  The story told the tale of a post-apocalyptic Earth…

40 years after the invasion… the world as we know it is no more.  While Humanicide seems inevitable, some men still try to escape…

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There are three main characters… well, I should say three human characters.  The antagonist  is a very cool, very evil looking (almost insect-like), floating alien robot that administers a “sting” to hapless humans.  It seems that there is an antidote of sorts which is able to counteract this “sting”, but it is obviously rare.  Also, the antidote needs to be administered in a timely manner or something (most likely an awful something) happens.

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The human characters are Paul (played by Audren Lancien)…

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Tripo (played by Florian Gounaud)…

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And a mysterious character I can only guess is called “The Man” (played by Philippe Stepniewski)…

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So today was the big day.  Guillaume contacted me this morning and told me that it would go live at 9:00pm France time.  Did I mention I suck at math as well as figuring out time zones?  Guillaume was kind enough to tell me that it would be 2:00pm here (man, he figured that out much faster than I would have).

So with no further ado… here is the post-apocalyptic short film I’ve been waiting a year for.  I’ve seen a lot of postapoc shorts…. I mean A LOT of them.  This ranks right up there with my favorites and I really hope that it becomes something bigger in the future…

 


 

Oh, and just one more thing.  Not to let things go to my head, but I saw a little something there in the end credits that made me go “Huh?!?!”…  I asked Guillaume what I could possibly have done to get my name in the credits.  He said that I was the first American to ever share and talk about his movie.  I cannot tell you how good it made me feel to see that.   Thanks, Guillaume, you are a seriously cool cat!

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My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1980’s – Part 2…

Here it is… Part 2 of my Favorite Post-Apocalypse Films of the 1980’s.  Its taken me quite some time to cull the herd down to these ones.  A warning… some of these are considered terrible – but that’s their charm.  Hell, most folks think most of these suck.  That’s ok.  I thought Guardians of the Galaxy sucked.  See how that works?

Don’t forget that just because these are my favorites, that doesn’t mean they are the best.  It also doesn’t mean this is a list of all of the postapoc movies out there – these are just the ones I enjoy and have been able to watch more than once. 😉

Don’t forget to click the movie poster to see the film, trailer, or scene.

 

Endgame – The Running Man meets 1984… In the year 2025, a nuclear holocaust has left New York City an irradiated, but not abandoned, wasteland. The ruined city is inhabited now by scavenger packs and telepathic mutants, who are persecuted by the elite survivors. Keeping the people happy is the reality television program Endgame, where hunters and gladiators fight to the death…

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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome –  The third installment in the original trilogy.  Often cursed by fans, I thought it was brilliant.  We get to see a slightly lighter side of the wasteland and watching Max come to grips with his humanity is wonderful…

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Miracle Mile – I owned the soundtrack to this before I ever saw the movie. I was a huge Tangerine Dream fan and got my hands on every album of their’s I could.  When I finally watched the movie, back in the late 80’s, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I’ve seldom run into folks who’ve even heard of it, but after seeing it, they tend to love it as well.  It’s a bit tense and you may feel tired at the end.  Please, please, check this one out…

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Night of the Comet – Can you believe I watched this in my English class back in high school, 1987?  I don’t recall in what context we watched it, but it was PA and it was friggin’ awesome!!!  The tail of a passing comet engulfs the world and those it doesn’t kill outright, become changed to “zombies”.  Apparently only those who were protected by some kind of metal structure were saved from this fate – enter our two sisters and a couple of fellas making their way through this nightmare.  This one is a fantastic example of 80’s nostalgia…

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Slipstream – The Earth has finally succumbed to an unknown ecological disaster simply known as “The Convergence”.  The landscape and weather has changed.  The “slipstream” has become the main mode of transportation in this changed landscape.   Producer/director Gary Kurtz (remember him?  He had a hand in a couple little-known films called Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) had hoped that this would be his meal ticket.  Unfortunately, it drove him into bankruptcy due to it being a considerable flop – something I don’t quite understand as I feel it is a fantastic film full of some incredible actors ( Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley and F. Murray Abraham)… Oh well, such is life.  It’s got Mark Hamill as a baddass and Bill Paxton as a whiny…. well, a whiny Bill Paxton…

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Steel Dawn – Patrick Swayze is “the desert warrior.  Carving the future with his sword“.  Yeah… Swayze plays a character simply called “Nomad”, traveling the wastes and coming to be in the employ of a woman and her foreman, Tark (played by the late Brion James).  Nomad is haunted by his past as well as hunted by an assassin called Sho (Christopher Neame – fans of Babylon 5 might recognize that name).  Lots of swordfighting in this one…

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Stryker – “The last war began in error.  Who’s error, nobody knows, nor does it matter anymore.  Nothing matters now other than survival.  The nuclear holocaust wiped out all semblance of rhyme or reason.  Cities obliterated, farmlands devastated.  The ecology imbalanced and all that is left is a parched and arid wasteland, a scorched and seething Earth where what little water there is, is hoarded and kept under heavy guard.  For water is power and whoever controls the  water… controls the world.

Sounds awesome, huh?  Check it out…

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2019: After the Fall of New York – In 2019 the world is devastated by an infection that prevents men from procreating. A group of survivors find that in New York there is a community of humans who for some reason has remained immune to contamination. The soldier Parsifal is sent on a reconnaissance mission to save the entire human race…

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Testament – Along the same lines as The Day After, Roger Ebert said… “The film is about a suburban American family, and what happens to that family after a nuclear war. It is not a science-fiction movie, and it doesn’t have any special effects, and there are no big scenes of buildings blowing over or people disintegrating. We never even see a mushroom cloud. We never even know who started the war. Instead, “Testament” is a tragedy about manners: It asks how we might act toward one another, how our values might stand up, in the face of an overwhelming catastrophe.”…

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Threads –  This film was notable in being the first of its kind to depict a nuclear winter. Certain reviewers have nominated Threads as the “film which comes closest to representing the full horror of nuclear war and its aftermath, as well as the catastrophic impact that the event would have on human culture”…

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Warrior of the Lost World – Yet another 1983 Italian Road Warrior ripoff… these never get old.  For your pleasure, I have found the riffed version from MST3K.  Trust me, it’ll make it worth watching…

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Warriors of the Wasteland – Known as The New Barbarians when initially released in 1983, this is yet another Italian post-apocalyptic ripoff of The Road Warrior.  When will it end?  Apparently not yet…

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And as a special added bonus, here’s Rifftrax doing what they do best with this flick…


Warriors of the Apocalypse – OK… this one is special.  This is without a doubt the most terrible postapoc movie I have ever seen – in fact, it may very well be the worst movie I have ever seen period.  Why is it one of my favorites?  Because it’s got cannibalistic mutant midgets and people shooting frickin’ laser beams out of their eyes.  Seriously, how can you not dig that?!  It’s also very difficult to find.  I purchased the VHS some years ago and have never seen it released on DVD.  If you ever get the chance to watch it, please do… and never speak of it to anyone…

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Warlords of the 21st Century – You guessed it, another ripoff, but this one’s a little different.  For one it was filmed by Americans in New Zealand, and two, it’s actually pretty darned good.  It features John Ratzenberger, so yeah, it doesn’t really suck…

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Wheels of Fire – Oh geez.. another ripoff?  Yep…  Ok, fine, it sucks.  But wait a minute… there is just no way I can do this movie justice.  I found an excellent review that you should read…

Million Monkey Theater Movie Review for Wheels of Fire

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When The Wind Blows – This is a very interesting film from 1986.  Using drawn animation and stop-motion animation, it also features an incredible soundtrack – featuring artists such as David Bowie, Roger Waters, and Genesis.  It is sorta-kinda along the same lines as The Day After and Threads.  I strongly suggest watching this one…

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World Gone Wild – Not as blatant a ripoff as most of the Italian flicks, this one is actually entertaining and one of the better postapoc movies of the 80’s.  It stars real actors such as Bruce Dern and Michael Paré.  The mainstay of pretty much every PA flick is either a lack of gasoline and/or water.  The subject of this one is the latter and deals with a community trying to protect it from an evil cult of renegades (which seems to also be all too popular in these movies).  Anyhoo, check it out.  It ain’t that bad…

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And there you have it – the last, best decade, as far this middle-aged scifi geek is concerned.  Most of the movies during this time were simply cashing in on The Road Warrior… hell, most of ’em were made in 1983, most likely within the span of a few weeks.  But while some were just fun and silly, there were a few that really attempted to scare the crap out of us and tell us just how really shitty a post-apocalyptic future could be.

 I can’t help but wonder though, just how much radiation would it take to mutate me to the point that I’d be able to shoot frickin’ laser beams out of my eyes?

Attack on Titan… a guest post from author A.D. Bloom…

Attack on Titan (live-action 2015), Kronos Eating His Children, and what it takes to fight giant monster cannibals.

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First, the answer is yes. See it. For the record, I’ve only tasted bits of Attack on Titan’s previous incarnations. This is my first real Attack on Titan story and it was great. The detail put into sets and costuming consistently maintained the illusion that the world I saw extended far beyond whatever slice of it we got to actually see. The acting worked for me. The Titans turned out to be pretty satisfying giant monsters and I dug the story.

Right. Now that that part is out of the way, let’s talk about monsters.

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Okay, this is Goya’s painting of Saturn (Kronos, a Titan from ancient Greek mythology) eating his son (painted on the walls of Goya’s house with other pics between 1819 and 1823). Why is he eating his son? If I recall, he ate all his kids for fear they’d overpower him at some point. The horror in this painting has been haunting me for a long time. Cannibalism freaks my shit. I DON’T like cannibals. (It’s hard to like people that feed on other people). Make this figure in the painting bigger in relation to its snack, give him the coloring of a corpse and a vacant, eerily amused, and ravenous stare and you’ve got a live-action Titan. And they’re actually pretty terrifying the way they munch down on crunchy, juicy humans. They’ve got a distinctly Japanese flavor that evokes recollection of Japanese ghosts, spirits and cannibal demons depicted in classical Japanese painting and printmaking (also Butoh dance).

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But it’s the cannibal part that produces the most horror in my mind.

What gives? They’re not human. How can the Titans be cannibals?

OK. You’re right. Technically, Titans can’t be cannibals because they’re not eating the same species. BUT they look exactly like giant naked humans without nipples or genitals and they bite normal-sized humans in half and eat them. That’s cannibal enough for me, especially considering the context of this story.

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Spoiler free context: Walls high enough to keep out giants surround and protect (and imprison) the endangered humans and their town. Outside the walls there are Titans and they will eat you. Inside the humans seem safe, but they’re not.

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As far as I’m concerned, Titans are giant people eating other people. (This strikes a nerve with me as an allegory of something we humans do all the darn time in more roundabout ways.) Hold that thought.

So there I am, a third of the way through the movie, reeling from the cannibal horror that began before I thought it would and all I’m thinking is, “Dammit! Someone has to fight the giant cannibal kaiju!”

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But the humans seem terrible at it. This movie presents two kinds of humans – the ones that seek safety, and the other kind, the kind that are maybe more like the monsters. These are the ones that fight monsters, of course. And this is my favorite part of the story. You can fight the Titans and win, but only after paying a price. There’s always a price when you become a monster to fight one.

But I bet you knew that. In a way, you already know Attack on Titan. The same story has been retold for thousands of years. There’s a reason for that. It’s an important story. It’s one of our collective myths. This time around, the players are humans dying in a walled world and heroes that fight the terrifying man-eating Titans. Awesome.

A.D. Bloom is the author of the War of Alien Aggression and other books. His characters fight monsters.