AROW80 Check-In: June 15, 2014

It is late, I am tired and have been skeptically sniping at the Lose Weight Quick quackery ads on my TV.  So,here’s a quick post:

I was over at my LiveJournal and found the following meme:

Let’s play Burn Read Rewrite.
It’s like Kill F*ck Marry, but with books.

Warning: the following contains two links to articles. If you have stuff you need to do, you might want to read this article later!

So, here’s my Burn, Read, Rewrite picks of the post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels I’ve read.

Burn: Out of the Ashes  by William W. Johnstone. Ok, not literally burn, because the idea of burning a book — even a horrendous one — skeeves me out, but at the very least, this book deserves a serious time out. It’s the first book in Johnstone’s Ashes series and is one heck of a hot and hypocritical mess in print form. If this was a fanfic, the main character would be described as a Gary Stu, since the entire universe revolves around him. I mean, seriously, he survives World War III because of being stung by bees for crying out loud. He receives enough stings that he’s knocked out for the better part of a week and wakes up with the war already over.  Oh, and he was outside the whole time.  Apparently, severe allergic reactions have anti-radiation properties…

It also doesn’t help that the author’s politics are such that those who disagree with him are all straw men and women who exist only to show how right, right RIGHT! the main character is.

Doesn’t help that at one point, the main character berates a woman for not lifting a hand to help some elderly neighbors who died, prior to the war, due to having their power shut off.  Not only doesn’t he mention what he did to help these poor folks, but later on in the book he helps out a town of elderly people by killing some bad guys (single-handed) but ultimately leaves them to take care of themselves since he’s got to go be the Chosen One for the New America. Not that he wants to but if he must

Read: Pilgrimage to Hell by James Axler. This is the first book in the Deathlands  series.  Most post-apocalyptic men’s adventure series ran for three to five books, before petering out.  The Ashes series mentioned above ran for about 34 books and was still being published well into the late 1990s/early 2000s.

Deathlands? Started in 1986 and is still running. It’s up to 119 books and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. And it’s probably one of the best examples of the genre out there — primarily because it sets the action well after World War III (one hundred years in the future, to be exact) and uses the war to set up a unique, pulp science fiction world. Deathlands refers to the former United States which is now a land full of radiation, weird weather, strange mutants and corrupt barons who rule their villes with varying levels of mercy and cruelty.

It’s also one of the few actually hopeful series out there.

Pilgrimage to Hell introduces us to the Deathlands world pretty much by dropping us into the middle of it. While there are a few info dumps, they are at least interesting to read and move along quickly.

What I really like about Pilgrimage to Hell in particular and Deathlands as a series in general, is the fact that the main characters aren’t all Straight White Dudes who are always strong and never wrong.  The Straight White Dudes in the cast screw up and make mistakes and the characters who aren’t straight, white or dudes are allowed to have agency and lives separate from the SWDs (particularly nice considering that several of the women in the cast are love interests).  Considering that representation is something that science fiction as a genre still struggles with, it’s nice to see older books that Got It.

Rewrite: Doomsday Warrior by Ryder Stacy. This is a cheesy, cheesy series.  This is a series where a group of survivors, trapped inside a highway tunnel near Denver, Colorado, manage to build a thriving, super-sciency supercity in said blocked off highway tunnel using the equipment they had in their vehicles and the expertise they had.   Note: this isn’t the part I’d rewrite.

See, I read this series when I was a kid. Not all of it but a book or two and I had some fairly fond memories of the series in general and one of the characters in particular. The part I’d rewrite is the role of that character who, in my rose-colored nostalgia goggles, was a badass female warrior who took no crap and kicked butt and was generally just awesome.

Rereading the book as an adult, I found that this character was more of an example of the stereotypical Strong Female Character who is superficially tough but who ends up being all show and no go.  Like, in this case, the character is obsessed with getting into the pants of the main hero and defeating her main rival for said hero’s affections.  I’d make her the action hero she should have been — maybe put her in the place of the main hero, for a change.

Either that or, for kicks and grins, I’d pull a Rule 63 on the whole book and reverse everybody’s genders. It would be awesome.

Writing Goals:  Still working on things and trying to figure them out — but for now, I am going to sleeeeeeeep.