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.

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Death Drive, Life Drive… Guest Blog from S.C. Flynn.

I remember first encountering S.C. Flynn around 2014.  He labeled himself as a “…reader and reviser of science fiction and fantasy.“.

I really had no idea that he was a writer as well.  You can imagine my surprise and rather blatant joy to learn that his first published book was going to be post-apocalyptic/dystopian in nature… YES!!!!

Not only that, but it was going to by YA as well, and truth be told,  I have come to enjoy YA literature almost more than that geared strictly towards adults… it tends to be faster paced and does a great job at keeping the reader engaged and wanting to read.  YA lit ain’t just for kids, ya know!  He asked me if I wanted to read an ARC, to which I promptly replied “Hell yes!!!”.  I really enjoyed his story and am very much looking forward to reading more in this series.  You can read my review of Children of the Different here.

So let me present S. C. Flynn – reader, reviser, and now…  a published post-apocalyptic author!


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The roots come out of the earth, fighting back against mankind’s concrete prisons. As if the soul of the world were pouring out again.

These days, a lot is rightly said about the damage done by industrialized human society to the Earth’s environment. Global warming is melting the world’s ice caps; in time, this will raise the water level such that certain coastal areas will be rendered uninhabitable. Rising temperatures in Equatorial Africa will increasingly make agriculture impossible there. These issues and others to come will probably affect the entire planet, even to the point of killing off humanity in its entirety.

We are caught in a self-perpetuating death drive.

termitewingsseparateAs great as these problems are, they are limited to the human point of view. The Earth itself is indifferent to whether or not we exist. If things continue as they are, it will eventually rid itself of humanity – or most of it – and start a new drive to life of its own. A drive back towards growth, cleanliness and diversity. Any humans left would have to make do as best they could in a game where they no longer make the rules.

Nature’s game.

The situation of a vastly reduced human population trying to survive after the collapse of technological civilization lies at the heart of post-apocalyptic fiction. Scavengers – people living off scraps of that previous civilization – are currently very popular, as are zombie-style chaos, but other reactions would also be logical. Trying to rebuild what was lost. Destroying all traces of it as evil. Or trying to forget all about technological civilization and following a new life trajectory, one that involves letting yourself be absorbed in to the Earth’s life drive:

I and the others like me are the human roots left after the Madness. We are like nature’s soul, small as we are.

termiteseparateThat might seem either utopian or dystopian, depending on your point of view. The difficulty of imagining that kind of life stems more from our total dependence on machines than from any real impossibility in living much closer to, and in tune with, nature. After all, our ancestors did so for many centuries. If enough time were to pass, or if the shift in mentality caused by the apocalypse were sufficiently great, it might be possible.

The end of technology and mass communication would mean the end of large ideologies, and various small isolated groups might experiment with different approaches to life, each one “ethical” according to its own rules. Among them, there might even be a group that works to bring back the best of technological civilization, while avoiding the errors of the past.

Literature can – and should – try to imagine these different ways of living and of being. It can help us to understand what to look forward to. And what to avoid.

‘She could feel the life pulsing, life of a kind she had never felt before. Rich but impossibly ancient. She knew that these creatures had seen every kind of being come and go. They had been there long before anything else, and they would be there long after humans were gone.’

[artwork by Eric Nyquist]


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About the Author

S. C. Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S. C. Flynn has written for as long as he can remember and has worked seriously towards becoming a writer for many years. This path included two periods of being represented by professional literary agents, from whom he learnt a lot about writing, but who were unable to get him published.

He responded by deciding to self-publish his post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, Children of the Different and, together with an American support team, aimed for a book as good as those created by the major publishers.

S. C. Flynn blogs on science fiction and fantasy at scflynn.com. He is on Twitter @scyflynn and on Facebook. Join his email newsletter list here.

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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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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An interview with Arthur H. Walker – Identity Extensive Technology and “Going Delta”…

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EC: Welcome to the Wastes, Arthur! Hey, real quick before we get started… I understand you like to “poke pixels into proper shape”.  I’m a bit of a video game nerd, could you tell me about the game developer thing?

AW: A friend I’ve known for 25 years, asked me to help him build games. He loves games, but isn’t super creative. I design, write, and render, while my friend writes the code. I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to try indie dev at all, but when a friend like that asks me for a favor, I don’t say no. 🙂  I’ve grown to like it since our first game.  And, of course, I wanted to do a post-apocalyptic RPG after that.  I’ve had to reach out to all sorts of skills, and the indie dev community.  There are lots of great people there.

 

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EC: I recently finished the first book in your Uroboros Saga series and compared it to Bladerunner. First off, I gotta say that it has been an extremely long time since I’ve read a book that’s grabbed me by the throat and not let go from the first page.  Secondly, there’s a whole lot more going on than what I had initially thought. I was intrigued by the “idea of technology that extends and expands the modern notion of identity, and the sort of dystopia that such technology could create.”

AW: In the books I refer to it identity extensive technologies. It is what I expect will eventually arise from current cognitive technologies like IBM’s Watson.

 

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EC: Identity extensive technologies? Oh man, you gotta talk to me like I’m four years old sometimes. What exactly is that?

AW: In the present day, it is very limited, and amount to services that are not fully autonomous just yet. Amazon and Google can merely suggest products and web sites based on your previous search and buying habits. Facebook can push advertising you might like, based on information you’ve provided. Pandora comes a little closer, playing music for you based on your previous choices, automatically. I use an extreme example in my books.

A nanotechnological replica, with an imprinted neural construct that acts essentially the same way as your brain. It is a machine that looks and thinks like you, with implied legal (a thing I don’t touch on) ability to act as you. It could buy things it knows you like, enter into contractual agreements, and contribute to your works and desires, autonomously.  Basically, a technological redundancy for a person, acting as they would act. There are cognitive technologies (IBM’s Watson) and data holds (the Internet) that could give rise to such in the future.

 

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Automating human agency is one of the darkest and most dangerous things, done incorrectly. Apocalyptic in the extreme. Instead of a wasteland of burnt buildings and radioactive zombies, you’d have an intellectual wasteland, and a cognitive disparity in the population. People who could afford the technology, employing it ethically or otherwise, would have extreme advantages over others. I could write a book, while I was editing, while I was illustrating the cover, two books ahead, outpacing other independent authors. This, provided the technology worked flawlessly. And, it didn’t assume identity markers outside my own (constituting a separate being with its own desires). 

 

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 In my books, replicas do just this, “going delta” and becoming their own distinct folks, with varying consequences. Some of the Deltas are murderous psychopaths, while others are staunch protectors of humanity. I see machines of this type as reaching polarizing conclusions about morality, but not necessarily the “rise of the machines” scenario that Hollywood constantly puts on display. Still, Deltas would not possess the same anthropological imperatives as humans, so they’d likely reach slightly different conclusions.

 

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Cognitive technologies have real world commercial applications, but not for the average consumer just yet. I’d like to be able to take a picture of my closet, send it to a service that could examine my purchasing habits and buy me clothes at an appropriate interval, based collected biometric data, without me having to lift a finger. It would be eerie at first. Especially if the service was dead on, mostly buying stuff I liked, with the few regretful purchases I inevitably would have made anyway.

I wonder how society would grapple with such technology. Also, how it would treat redundant identity systems that go “delta”, and so forth.

 

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Arthur H. Walker likes to write about identity extensive technologies, fiscal/economic collapse, Intelligent Agents and A.I.s, Compliance Implants, and genetic engineering. You can find him on twitter at https://twitter.com/ArthurHWalker.

Detective Taylor, a case study for redemption…

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I recently had a chance to talk to author N.R. Burnette and ask him a question that’s been bugging me for awhile.  N.R. Burnette is the author of Cargo Lock 5, Paphos, and his newest book, Kenji.  He also writes a series of flash fiction stories called Bioflash.  These are stories taken from the online bio’s of friends, followers and volunteers.  They can be found on Wattpad here… Bioflash Short Stories.

E.C.:  So, Cargo Lock 5…. what is up with Detective Taylor?  Seriously man, this guy is, well…. a jerk.  The story is absolutely fantastic, but I’m very curious to know why you wrote him the way you did.

N.R.:  A question every reader will ask haha!  At times I ask myself.  It’s a good question.

At first I just wanted to have fun.  Some of my favorite characters are anti-heroes.  Dexter, Scarface, every character in Pulp Fiction.  When you aren’t the good guy, you can do things a lot differently.  You can get revenge.  You can vent your frustrations.  You can be petty.  Batman won’t walk by a person in need, he can’t get high and roam downtown city streets.  Taylor can.
Psychologically, he’s very self-destructive.  He punishes himself out of the guilt he refuses to feel.  Once I had Taylor, once I knew who he was, I didn’t hold back.  I had to write him truthfully.  Sadly, he’s a little too well-conceived.  I feel that as people, as a species let’s say, we absolutely need love and compassion.  We are helpless from birth, clinging to mother to take care of us, especially when we are scared.  Now imagine someone who was never shown compassion, never shown love, until eventually he decides the world hates him.  That’s Taylor.  The world hates him, and he hates it back.  That’s when you meet him, and you get to be with him as he finds redemption.
N.R. Burnette‘s newest book, Kenji, is available now.  Kenji is a fantasy novel of distant worlds and the gods that rule them. When Gojun, the god of war, is betrayed he vows to make the Fates return his murdered wife. To save themselves the gods find Gojun’s presumed dead son, Kenji.  Armed with his budding powers and a natural drive for war, Kenji is caught in a struggle against destiny and his love for a goddess.
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