Monday, 14 April 2014

Post-Apocalyptic A to Z: Love in the Time of Zombies

I'm handing today's A to Z challenge to Guante, one of my favorite spoken word artists, and probably the only one to do a spoken word piece combining romance and the zombie apocalypse.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Post-Apocalyptic A to Z: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

While I mentioned in an earlier post that I'm not a huge fan of the alien invasion theme, I have to make a big exception for the 1988 film Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

With a title like that, you know you're not sitting down to a movie of even a Hollywood level of seriousness. This is pure parody from start to finish, and effective parody too. All the elements of the genre are here--the alien invaders, the teens who know more than the adults, no one taking the teens seriously (this time for the forgivable reason that the aliens are clowns) and the plucky kids going off to defeat the aliens on their own. . .in an ice cream truck.

So if you are a fan of b-movies, check this out. Where else can you see dead bodies wrapped in cocoons of cotton candy?

Post-Apocalyptic A to Z: Justice

One aspect of a post-apocalyptic society that writers need to consider is how the survivors feel about what happened. If something like the American Civil War can inflame passions 150 years after the fact, what kind of reactions would the fall of civilization bring on?

In my Toxic World series, people are forbidden to speak of it in the one surviving civilized town, New City. The rulers of New City are terrified that the old social splits that destroyed the Old Times might return, and so anyone who is found guilty of Blame is branded and exiled.

In Radio Hope, we meet Jackson Andrews, one such exile. Jackson is a Marxist and publically blamed the rich for starting wars and polluting the world for their profit. Since he's already been branded and exiled, he's not afraid to continue his Blaming in the wildlands. Most people dismiss his ideas, but find they can't quite ignore him.

In the second book, which is in edits right now, Blaming religious groups becomes a problem in New City thanks to an attack by a mad cult, and in the third volume (in the outline stage) the most crucial divisions of the Old Times get shoved right into everyone's faces.

But I still need to write that story!

Statue of Lady Justice on the Well of Justice in Bern, Switzerland. Sculptor: Hans Gieng, 1543. photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Finished my next Toxic World novel!

After a three-day marathon of writing, I finished the first draft of my next Toxic World novel--Refugees from the Righteous Horde! The action begins only a couple of weeks after the events in Radio Hope and looks at the results of the invasion by the mad cult that's central to the plot of the first book.

Refugees came out to 88,595 words, considerably longer than Radio Hope, which was 71,000 words. I need to tighten up the middle so it will probably end up slightly shorter, like 86,000 words.

But that will have to wait. I'm off to Oxford for two weeks and will be doing some freelance articles plus getting to work on Trench Raiders, the first of my series of World War One action novels. After clearing my head for a couple of weeks I'll come back to Refugees and start editing.

This image of a writing lesson in a Muslim school in Turkestan in the late 19th century has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

Post-Apocalyptic A to Z: Invasion from space

An enduring theme in science fiction is the alien invasion. This has been around since at least H.G. Wells and probably before, and continues to this day with Hollywood action movies that have the trappings of science fiction. (Hollywood actually produces few films that are purely scifi).

While I don't mind a good human-alien battle, I've always thought of this method of destroying civilization as a bit of a cop out, like zombies or asteroid strikes. If we're going to go down, it won't be because bug-eyed aliens are colonizing us. I prefer the apocalypse to be our fault, because it highlights some of the ways that we're bringing it about in real life. Nuclear war, environmental disaster, overpopulation, these are the forces I want to see in post-apocalyptic fiction.

Of course, this makes for grim reading. . .

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Post-Apocalyptic A to Z: Human evolution gone wrong

Whatever happens to our civilization, whether we destroy it or keep on going, evolution will continue. But what if it all goes horribly wrong? Scientists already worry about the hormones and additives in our food, as well as harmful chemicals in everyday objects like plastic bottles.

Now evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics has presented a theory that the human race will split into two. Within 100,000 years, he says, there will be an elite upper class, and a shorter, uglier, dumb underclass. As the two types of human diverge, they will become increasingly isolated genetically becasue they will prefer spouses from their own kind.

This is all a bit reminiscent of the Eloi and Morlocks in The Time Machine.

Curry also warns against the effects technology may have on the human species. Improved medicine will mean weaker people survive into adulthood and pass their frailties to the next generation. Also, a lack of exercise will make people physically weaker, like the Eloi who regularly get raided by the Morlocks.

I'm not sure we can really hope to predict what will happen in 100,000 years, but it's fun to speculate!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Last chance to get The Scavenger for free!

Today is the last day to get my post-apocalyptic story The Scavenger for free.

This five-day giveaway has been an interesting experiment. I've given away a few hundred copies and I've already received three reviews. I'll be coming back next week with some hard figures and some thoughts on doing giveaway, but in the meantime, feel free to download the story!
Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.