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Post Apocalyptic Review – Into the Forest

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Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

I have learned that when it comes to post-apocalyptic fiction, I want the books to teach me something. I want to gain valuable information that I might use if I ever found myself in an end-of-the-world situation. Although the likelihood of ever needing said knowledge is admittedly slim, it feeds my sense of self-improvement. I also like to be prepared.

Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest is packed full of practical knowledge. From healing qualities of certain plants to the nutritional value of acorns, I found the knowledge fascinating. The author’s debut novel is eerily subtle as far as ends go. Living in a cabin in a northern California redwood forest, thirty miles from the nearest town, the apocalypse that destroys the world comes slowly and in fragments to the sisters Nell and Eva. There are rumors of war, upheaval, and plague, but details are hard to come by. When the sisters’ parents die, they are left to fend for themselves in a lonely world come unhinged and floating along outside law or society. They slowly learn how to survive in the forest and that real danger is hovering nearby.

Into the Forest is a story of survival that stresses throughout the importance of family. The two naive sisters have only each other initially and must make hard choices when unexpected options arise. These difficult choices seem all the more gut wrenching for their believability and realism. Filled with vivid scenery, you can almost smell and hear the vast primeval forest while reading this book.

Although this is one of my favorite books in this genre, it is not for those who look for fast-paced action. This story is about the sisters and how they survive and sacrifice in a cruel and unforgiving land that thrust them into adulthood far too early. These young girls are certainly not prepared for the challenges that they face, but they end up surprising themselves and the reader.

An excellent book that I highly recommend and hope you enjoy.

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Book Review of The Last Ship Novel (Now a TV Show)

Post-Apocalyptic Review Series by Guest Blogger, Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy.

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One of the more interesting characteristics of some post-apocalyptic tales is the sense of total isolation. The world has been destroyed in whole or part and survivors are few and uncertain. William Brinkley’s The Last Ship is a tale of a fictional Navy ship call the USS Nathan James and it is hard to imagine any group of people being more isolated.

The story begins almost immediately after the Nathan James has launched her nuclear tipped tomahawk missiles from the Arctic Circle at Orel, Russia completely obliterating that city and its people. It quickly becomes apparent that this is but a small portion of a much larger world-wide nuclear exchange that ravages the planet.

The Last Ship is a fantastic post-apocalyptic story that is fresh and unique. I cannot think of another story that is similar. The tale is believable and well told. The characters are fully developed and complex. The only criticism I have of the book is that there was a point when the story seemed to take a hard left. Throughout the book, discipline and order were stressed to keep panic and despair in check. Yet, at one point the crew seems to at least partially abandon these tenants which had kept them safe and turn into sex-crazed caricatures who willingly accept a system of forced mass polygamy. This abrupt twist seemed to go against the entire theme of the story and appeared almost as an intentional shock for the reader. Despite this minor criticism, I very highly recommend this book and intend to watch the upcoming mini-series. Read on if you want more of the plot twists.

 

(SPOILER ALERT) Thomas, the ship’s captain, seeks to keep his crew together as they search for answers. All radio and satellite transmissions are non-existent and as the ship’s nuclear fuel runs low, they search for a habitable port. Some crew members however wish to return to America despite the almost certain death and destruction they will encounter there. A group leads a successful mutiny and one-third of the crew leaves the Nathan James in smaller ships to head across the Atlantic against all logic.

The ship continues through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Straits of Acheron. All along the way they find nothing but death, heavy radiation, and nuclear winter. It quickly becomes apparent that, with the exception of a Russian nuclear submarine they encountered earlier, they may be the only humans left alive on the planet. The crew finally make their way into the South Pacific and by chance find a habitable island where they begin growing crops and attempting to continue the human race through a selective breeding program. Things quickly go wrong on a number of levels.

There are so many directions the tv series can go. I hope it hits the mark for a post-apocalyptic show.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 9.39.52 PMRyan King launched his indie author career in 2012 while keeping his day job with the US Army. Watch for his upcoming guest spot here featuring monthly reviews of post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction. For more information about Ryan and his writing visit the link here.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Post-Apocalyptic vs. Dystopian Part II – What Is the Difference?

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.57.20 PMGuest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

(In Part I of this post series I discussed whether the difference between post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories matters. Arrow back for that.)

What is the difference between the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres?

I found some interesting blog posts about this particular subject. Although I don’t agree with all their definitions and examples, these are three of the more helpful and well thought out blogs on the subject. The YA Highway admits to using Dystopian because it’s easier to spell although not accurate (and explains). Julie Kagawa, who authored a “dystopian saga” is emphatic about the differences, and author Rachel Tsoumbakos saw others tagging her book variously and wrote a post to clarify and differentiate based on the books relationship to Horror and target audiences (Adult vs. YA).

So, how do I personally think the categories should be defined? Thank you for asking.

Post-Apocalyptic: A story directly after/during an apocalypse. This should not be a thousand years after, but recently. One of the appealing qualities of true post-apocalyptic stories is the fact that the main characters know how bad things are. They lived before the apocalypse and truly grasp all that has been lost. Their horror is our horror.

Dystopian: A story about a reality/future that is not right. As opposed to a post-apocalyptic story, the main characters typically do not know that something is wrong with their world at first. Part of the appeal of the dystopian story is the characters discovery of how things are wrong and possibly a previous better world. Dystopian stories are frequently tied to something in our world/reality taken to an extreme. Sometimes dystopias emerge from a post-apocalyptic world, but enough time has passed that there are few reliable memories of Before.

Are there stories that fall into both categories? Certainly, but they are fairly rare. Margaret Atwood’s Madd Adam Trilogy comes to mind because the first two books are about a fully developed dystopian world that subsequently endures an apocalypse. It is only in the third book that it transitions into a post-apocalyptic tale.

Both of these fiction categories in my opinion are incredibly rich and difficult to do well. Neither category is considered mainstream, but fans of each are loyal and voracious in their reading. Nearly every reader of these categories could give you a list of the favorites and I also have those that I love best as I’m sure you do.

Keep watching for my guest posts here as I write a post-apocalyptic book review and a dystopian book review each month. I will limit these to books I would recommend others read. I’m always interested in discovering good books in each genre and hope to help others in a similar manner.

You can look over the first post-apocalyptic review here. Until later, keep reading my friends.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

 

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Genre Topics

 

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Post-Apocalyptic Book Review – Blindness

Blindness, a post-apocalyptic novel by Jose Saramago

Blindness, a post-apocalyptic novel by Jose Saramago

Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

The Nobel Prize winning Portuguese author Saramago himself is a controversial character. He was an avowed communist-pessimist-atheist who spent most of his life as a journalist and only achieved widespread public appeal at the age of sixty. His Gospel According to Jesus Christ was ridiculed by his own government for its anti-Christian views and resulted in his self-imposed exile on a Spanish island until his death in 2010.

Blindness itself is not surprisingly about a mysterious plague called “white blindness” that strikes the people of an unnamed country. The origin of this highly contagious disease is never identified and strikes those it infects within days with total blindness. Unlike normal blindness, those afflicted only see a milky white, even when asleep.

The book is a dark and realistic tale filled with cruelty, base human nature, and depressing scenarios. Despite this, there are some bright spots and victories that prove the survivors have not lost themselves or their humanity.

Saramago writes in his typical style. He uses no quotation marks to signify dialogue, nor does he separate dialogue between different characters by paragraphs. Rarely does he even use periods, simply substituting commas with sentences carrying on for hundreds of words and paragraphs for whole pages. This often makes the reading tedious and difficult. Many times I was confused by who exactly was speaking since the author rarely identifies them.

Even with these downsides, Blindness is a powerful post-apocalyptic novel. For the first time in my life I think I came close to understanding how horrific it would be to be blind. Those in this story were additionally vulnerable due to having no one who could see assist them except for one main character who has to hide her ability for fear of reprisal or being made a slave by the others.

(Spoiler Alert-Skip to Conclusion Option) Initially, only a few people are infected and the government quarantines these individuals in an insane asylum. When there are few internees, the system seems to work, although inefficiently. Once the asylum becomes overcrowded and the guards more and more fearful, chaos and cruelty ensue. The blind come close to losing their humanity and even stop identifying themselves by names as only voices matter is this white cloudy world.

Eventually society itself collapses and the inmates are free to escape, but the city they flee into is not much better than their earlier prison. Groups of blind refugees stumble through streets filled with bodily wastes looking for food. Violence, fear, and apathy towards others rules everyday life and the survivors not only have to watch out for each other, but packs of carnivorous dogs that have not been affected by the disease.

(Conclusion) Although this is not one of my top post apocalyptic novels, Blindness is well worth reading and very interesting.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels. 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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