Can You Handle ALL The Apocalypses? End is Nigh and End Has Come

THEENDISNIGHI’ve mentioned here before how much I enjoy the End Of The World As We Know It (EOTWAWKI) branch of science fiction. I’ve talked about Alas, Babylon and  the TV shows “Jericho” and “The Walking Dead.”  Love the movies “Testament,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “World War Z,” “Contagion,” “Outbreak”  to name a few.

BIG fan of the genre.

So last week John Joseph Adams let me know about the exciting new trilogy of anthologies he’s edited with Hugh Howey – THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH, of which two volumes –  THE END IS NIGH and THE END IS NOW – have been issued. I read straight through both books and I am here to tell you this is a LOT of apocalypse goodness. The idea for the trilogy is that for the most part the same authors will be writing stories for each anthology, describing their apocalypse from the time right before the Big Bad happens, during the events, and then the aftermath. These books have everything  from your basic nuclear war and killer flu to aliens to comets, volcanoes, brown stars and advanced nanotechnology. There’s even one that will make you very afraid of bread mold. Very. Afraid.

Reading so much disaster and death over just a few days was a bit overwhelming. I probably should have paced myself but the stories were so good. I also couldn’t resist reading THE END IS NOW right away to see how things were turning out from the first installments in THE END IS NIGH. Some of the authors pick up the action in the second story literally right after the first story ends. Others tell the second portion of their apocalypse from the POV of someone else who was mentioned in the first story or who could have been in the same vicinity. And a couple of the stories are standalone (for now anyway, don’t know what will be in the third and final book). There were some twists I didn’t see coming (no spoilers from me), which kept the reading fresh.

I didn’t fall in love with every single story but that’s the beauty of an anthology – much to choose from.

Some of the stories which stand out in my memory, in no particular order:

Goodnight Moon and  Goodnight Stars by Annie Bellet. Absolutely heart tugging.

Spores and Fruiting Bodies  by Seanan McGuire. There shall be no bread mold in my house. EVER. (Gets out the Lysol, starts scrubbing)

The Fifth Day of Deer Camp and The Sixth Day of Deer Camp by Scott Sigler. He gives the reader a twist that I never saw coming but loved. Can’t wait to see what transpires in the third installment, if there is one.

System Reset  by Tobias S. Buckell. I loved the two main characters in this, Charlie and Toto (not a dog) and was eagerly anticipating more about them in the second book but alas, no.

In The Air and In The Mountain by Hugh Howey. SO good, with a twist and then another even darker twist…I wish this was a full length novelThe End is Now because I was totally drawn into the story and the characters. Can’t WAIT for part three.

Enjoy The Moment by Jack McDevitt. Seemed like a set up for a super, classic EOTWAWKI story but no second installment so far.

I have to mention This Unkempt World Is Falling to Pieces and By The Hair of the Moon by Jamie Ford. The author created a very noir, very cool alternate reality for May 1910 and the return of a certain comet that we know as Halley’s here, known as “the Tramp” there. The world building included steampunk elements woven into the stories  and although these two connected tales weren’t among my top favorites, they stay with me. (I’m not usually much for noir but the setting tugged me in anyway.)

There were many other stories included in the two books, including a pair by Charlie Jane Anders that took aspects of current social media and Generation Z and extrapolated into a chilling but highly believable future….YMMV as to which ones really grab you and won’t let go. For me, apparently the bread mold is THE winner LOL. (It is a scary scary pair of stories.)

Another excellent aspect of these anthologies is the diversity of the characters in meaningful roles, which I very much appreciated.  Tananrive Due’s heroine Nayima in Removal Order and Herd Immunity is one outstanding example, and Jake Kerr’s couple Em and  Lynn in The Wedding are another.

So if you never get enough of reading apocalyptic tales with strong characters of all types, I recommend checking out the two anthologies. Me? I’m waiting with bated breath for the third one!

jericho skeet

Here’s a cast photo from the gone-but-not-forgotten “Jericho,” which I loved and which SO reminded me of Alas, Babylon in the early episodes.




Another Favorite SF Flick NEON CITY with Michael Ironside

neon cityTagline: “Take a deep breath – it may be your last. Welcome to the Year 2053”

This is an older post apocalyptic science fiction movie (1991), a genre I’ve always loved. I think as a writer it appeals to me to take all the building blocks of our current world, jumble them around with some catastrophe and then see what the new possibilities are. Unfortunately, the post apocalypse usually leaves things pretty grim. The weather and the solar radiation seem to be the problem here, stirred into a lethal soup by some science experiment gone awry. (I may do SPOILERS – sorry!)

With a vaguely “Stagecoach” style plot, the movie takes an ill assorted small band of people through enemy held territory, trying to reach the safety of the big city. The star of the movie is Michael Ironside, an actor that I’ve always enjoyed. He mostly plays villains and does it VERY well, but in this one he gets to be the hero with an angsty past, the deadly gunslinger with a not-so-hidden soft heart…he has a hot tub scene with Vanity (ok, so it’s a badly explained post apocalyptic hot tub but neoncity9still…) and an artistically staged love scene…and a Happily Ever After For Now ending, going off to the Yukon in a jeep. (It’s HFN only because at one point someone drops the information on us that the stories of the Yukon having become Paradise on Earth may be a wee bit exaggerated. Still, I have every confidence he can make it work.)

I think part of Mr. Ironside’s appeal for me is the sense that not only can he handle everything anyone throws at him, he’s thinking deep and snarky thoughts…and I’m a sucker for his growly voice.

There are things in the plot that raise my eyebrows. Take the spoiled rich girl (well played by Juliet Landau) who just came back from Switzerland. I mean, really? Switzerland??? How did she get there (since it’s clear no planes are flying). How does she not know how dangerous the road trip to Neon City is going to be? Didn’t she just traverse most of devastated America to reach the outpost of Jericho? I guess she’s the stand-in for *us*, so when people explain things to her, WE get it. She’s read ALL but one of of Agatha Christie’s books by the way, which while I LOVE a woman who reads, how in post-apocalyptic America, with no internet, eBay or Amazon, did she get her hands on 80 detective novels? Did her rich daddy have gangs of riders out scouring the destroyed libraries and bookstores for them? (Yup, writers tend to focus on those nit picky plot holes. Makes it hard to properly enjoy the bigger picture sometimes LOL). What will she read next? Nero Wolfe maybe?

I did love that the mysterious villain, as much as there is one, who caused the apocalypse, is a former NASA guy who had only the best of intentions as he turned the pollution and the sunshine deadly (don’t try to follow the science, ok?)…who plays the piano AND who neon_city04 whips up a nifty laser gun for Michael out of odds and ends hanging around in the dilapidated transport bus as they’re on the run…cause yeah, NASA guys can totally do that with your flashlight and duct tape. (Unless your batteries are dead, then you’re out of luck and the bad guys have their way with you.) I bet the current NASA Mohawk Guy could do that (said with total respect).

vanityI liked Vanity’s portrayal of the misunderstood (and really innocent-of-the-crime-for-which-she-was-convicted) tough girl heroine..she went toe to toe with Michael Ironside and you believed the attraction there…if maybe not the wig…

I must add that the late Lyle Alzado delivers an emotional, effective turn as the transport driver…

The movie is fast paced….

So there you have it, another in my once-in-awhile-review of my favorite old movies! Is there an old movie you’ve been dying to see again but can’t find? Or a favorite you return to, over and over?