Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature! I’m Tabatha Hanly (Research Assistant/minion to Dr. Schillace), and this week we’re exploring five versions of the dark, twisted aftermath of the post-apocalyptic world. So maybe you’ll want to curl up with  a nice cup of tea and a teddy bear or two to remind you that it’s all okay…for now! mwahahahaha!

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
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Metro 2033 (METRO #1)Today we’ll begin with Metro 2033, not only a great read, but also the reason for this week’s apocalyptic theme (beacuse a freind who is reading it has been constantly informing me that it is such a great book!). In Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, M. David Drevs (Übersetzer) The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend. More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the
earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms.
Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man’s time is over. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro – the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity’s last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters – or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a
tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct – the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro’s best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to
alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro – and maybe the whole of humanity.

Now that we’ve begun with this chipper novel, let’s continue down the rabbit hole (or rather, metro rails) into more horrifying visions of the end of the world! (Mwahahahahah… okay I’ll stop that now…I promise). The Day of the TriffidsNext up is our oldest contribution for the day, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. In 1951 John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare.” Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever. But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.

Now we’ll move away from the man-made destruction…and into natural disasters with The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard. In the 21st century, fluctuations in solar radiation have caused the ice-caps to melt and the seas to rise. Global temperatures have climbed, and civilization has retreated to the Arctic and Antarctic circles. London is a city now inundated by a primeval swamp, to which an expedition travels to record the flora and fauna of this new Triassic Age. This early novel by the author of CRASH and EMPIRE OF THE SUN is at once a fast paced narrative, a stunning evocation of a flooded, tropical London of the near future and a speculative
foray into the workings of the unconscious mind.

Dead City (Dead World, #1)With Dead City, Joe McKinney brings us another watery apocalypse,
but this time, with Zombies! Texas? Toast. Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half of the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying—but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life—with an insatiable hunger for human flesh… The Nightmare Begins Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas. San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of  survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family… Hell On Earth There’s no place to run. No place to hide. The zombie horde is growing as the virus runs rampant. Eddie knows he has to find a way to destroy these walking horrors…but he doesn’t know the price he will have to pay…

In what seems to be a fitting sequel to Dead City twenty years later, we bring you The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free. For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can’t remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

And last but not least, I present a book I have heard called “the worst book I’ll ever read cover to cover” (no offence) bearing the best title I have seen in quite a while: Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. Mortimer Tate was a recently divorced insurance salesman when he holed up in a cave on top of a mountain in Tennessee and rode out the end of the world. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse begins nine years later, when he emerges into a bizarre landscape filled with hollow reminders of an America that no longer exists. The highways are lined with abandoned automobiles; electricity is generated by
indentured servants pedaling stationary bicycles. What little civilization remains revolves around Joey Armageddon’s Sassy A-Go-Go strip clubs, where the beer is cold, the lap dancers are hot, and the bouncers are armed with M16s. Accompanied by his cowboy sidekick Buffalo Bill, the gorgeous stripper Sheila, and the mountain man Ted, Mortimer journeys to the lost city of Atlanta–and a showdown that might determine the fate of humanity.

Friday Fiction Feature

This week my  irreplaceable assistant Tabatha has prepared a list of books especially for those of you with a long drive for the holidays.

Today we have thrilling, funny, terrifying, and heartwarming stories, all conveniently available on cassette tape to liven up those long hours behind the wheel. Mostly oldies but goodies (like I said- they’re on cassette), these books should help curb that road rage and maybe even get you into the holiday spirit! ___________________

Front Cover The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (Rhodenbarr #7)by Lawrence Block

Bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr’s in love–with an exotic Eastern European beauty who shares his obsession with Humphrey Bogart movies. He’s in heaven, munching popcorn with his new amour every night at a Bogart Film Festival–until their “Casablanca”-esque idyll is cut short by his other secret passion: “burglary.”

When he’s hired to pilfer a portfolio of valuable documents from a Park Avenue apartment, Bernie can hardly refuse. But the occupant’s early return forces Bernie to flee empty-handed–and he soon finds himself implicated in a murder. Before you can say “who stole the strawberries?” he’s hunting for a killer, up to his neck in the outrageous intrigues of a tiny Balkan nation . . . and menaced by more sinister fat men and unsavory toadies than the great Bogie himself butted heads with in pursuit of that darn bird.

A personal favorite of mine, is Louis L’Amor’s rare deviation from his pet genre and into the world of hard boiled detectives and underworld crime in I Hate to Tell His Widow/Collect from a Corpse/Stay Out of My Nightmare/Street of Lost Corpses (Great Mystery Series) by Louis L’Amour

 I Hate To Tell His Widow, Police Detective Joe Ragan’s best friend, Ollie Burns, is dead. His killer has arranged a trail of suspects so complex and littered with women that Ragan believes Burns’ widow may have the answers. Louis L’Amour’s recurring cop even suspects his secretary in I Hate To Tell His Widow

Collect From A Corpse Joe Ragan’s seen one too many burglaries blamed on an ex-con. This one turns to murder while the suspect is held. A cop-on-the-take, exotic dancer, and a disturbed photographer all attempt to Collect From A Corpse

Stay Out Of My Nightmare Kip Morgan goes looking for an old war buddy and comes up against a corrupt veteran’s club. A murderous women, and his own imprisonment in a watery tomb.

Street Of Lost Corpses Private investigator Kip Morgan foes undercover in this gripping story of men disappearing on a shabby street in a lonely warehouse district. Actress Marilyn Marcy has hired Morgan to find her brother, and Louis L’Amour’s trail leads us to the Street of lost Corpses.

If you want to revisit an old favorite, or brush up on Middle-Earth before the movie comes out, you can always find The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

While I cannot vouch for this one just yet, I have high hopes as Stick by Elmore Leonard will be accompanying me on my own trek home.

After serving time for armed robbery, Ernest “Stick” Stickley is back on the outside and trying to stay legit. But it’s tough staying straight in a crooked town — and Miami is a pirate’s paradise, where investment fat cats and lowlife drug dealers hold hands and dance. And when a crazed player chooses Stick at random to die for another man’s sins, the struggling ex-con is left with no choice but to dive right back into the game. Besides, Stick knows a good thing when he sees it — and a golden opportunity to run a very profitable sweet revenge scam seems much too tasty to pass up.

For anyone who is annoyed at the way Christmas jumps over Halloween and Thanksgiving these days, why not move backwards for once and listen to some good old fashioned scary stories this Thanksgiving? And why not do it with this lovely collection which includes “1408” a story which, I promise, is even more spine-chilling in audio.

Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales (The Dark Tower 0.5) by Stephen King

The first collection of stories Stephen King has published since Nightmares & Dreamscapes nine years ago, Everything’s Eventual includes one O. Henry Prize winner, two other award winners, four stories published by The New Yorker, and “Riding the Bullet,” King’s original e-book, which attracted over half a million online readers and became the most famous short story of the decade. “Riding the Bullet,” published here on paper for the first time, is the story of Alan Parker, who’s hitchhiking to see his dying mother but takes the wrong ride, farther than he ever intended. In “Lunch at the Gotham Cafe,” a sparring couple’s contentious lunch turns very, very bloody when the maitre d’ gets out of sorts. “1408,” the audio story in print for the first time, is about a successful writer whose specialty is “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Graveyards” or “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Houses,” and though Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel doesn’t kill him, he won’t be writing about ghosts anymore. And in “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French,” terror is deja vu at 16,000 feet. Whether writing about encounters with the dead, the near dead, or about the mundane dreads of life, from quitting smoking to yard sales, Stephen King is at the top of his form in the fourteen dark tales assembled in Everything’s Eventual. Intense, eerie, and instantly compelling, they announce the stunningly fertile imagination of perhaps the greatest storyteller of our time.

And finally, since I shouldn’t be a grouch, and we are now officially past Thanksgiving, one last book to get you into the (coming) holiday season!

Front CoverA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

One of the best-loved and most quoted stories of “the man who invented Christmas”-English writer Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol debuted in 1843 and has touched millions of hearts since. Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like. . .and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!

Fiction Feature Friday: Series Fiction

Welcome to the Fiction Reboot’s Friday Fiction Feature!

This week is Fiction series Friday! (And we’ll even pretend it was on purpose). As always, a big thank you to Tabatha, my long-suffering research assistant, for compiling these–and for mining the reading habits of her student peers!

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The Golden Compass remains a favorite by those who claim to have outgrown it despite rushing to see the recent movie starring James Bond, erm, I mean Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel in the alternate universe of soul-pets. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

For the horror fans, another popular series, The Gunslinger, the first in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Beginning with a short story appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1978, the publication of Stephen King’s epic work of fantasy — what he considers to be a single long novel and his magnum opus — has spanned a quarter of a century.

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King’s most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement.

Book I
In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

One of the most read books by non-English Majors, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

(Be honest, who hasn’t wondered about the pen thing?)

When young Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his adopted family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of inescapable destiny, magical forces, and powerful people. With only an ancient sword and the instruction of an old,mysterious, hermit storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a Emperor whose evil and power knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….

One more recent movie, The City of Ember.

Citizens of Ember shall be assigned work at twelve years of age…Lina Mayfleey desperately wants to be a messenger. Instead, she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means she’ll be working in damp tunnels deep underground. Doon Harrow draws messenger – and asks Lina to trade! Doon wants to be underground. That’s where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix it. For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless darkness at bay. But now the lights are beginning to flick…

Last but not least, a Minnesota author, known for his Prey series, John Stanford’s Virgil Flowers series (the newest book in the series Mad River in which Flowers goes after Bonne, Clyde and what’s-his-name the sidekick is set to release Oct. 2 2012- just in time to catch up on the first 5).

Virgil Flowers-tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s-had kicked around for a while before joining the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. First, it was the army and the military police, then the police in St. Paul, and finally Lucas Davenport had brought him into the BCA, promising him, “We’ll only give you the hard stuff.”

He’d been doing the hard stuff for three years now-but never anything like this. In the small town of Bluestem, where everybody knows everybody, a house way up on a ridge explodes into flames, its owner, a man named Judd, trapped inside. There is a lot of reason to hate him, Flowers discovers. Years ago, Judd had perpetrated a scam that’d driven a lot of local farmers out of business, even to suicide. There are also rumors swirling around: of some very dicey activities with other men’s wives; of involvement with some nutcase religious guy; of an out-of-wedlock daughter. In fact, Flowers concludes, you’d probably have to dig around to find a person who didn’t despise him.

And that wasn’t even the reason Flowers had come to Bluestem. Three weeks before, there’d been another murder-two, in fact-a doctor and his wife, the doctor found propped up in his backyard, both eyes shot out. There hadn’t been a murder in Bluestem in years-and now, suddenly, three? Flowers knows two things: This wasn’t a coincidence, and this had to be personal.

But just how personal is something even he doesn’t realize, and may not find out until too late. Because the next victim . . .may be himself.