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Customer Discussions > Post-Apocalyptic forum

What do you look for in a good P-A read?


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Showing 376-400 of 523 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2011 2:09:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2011 8:14:49 PM PST
Lupus says:
BJ:

You were right on about the story line of Far North. It was a strange story, to be honest, but I couldn't give it the highest rating because of the claustrophobic feeling I got from being stuck inside Makepeace's head through most of the book. Pages and pages of it, to the point that I was dying for a scene with some dialogue and interaction with someone else. But maybe that's just me. In this sense, I suppose the book was too "literary" for me, since most literary works seem to have the same traits (limited, pretty much, to impressions and reflections of the protagonist). I don't think this applies to all literary works, but most I've read (modern or contemporary) seem to work out that way. I feel unsatisfied by many action-adventure stories that have you turning the pages, and yet by the time you finish reading them, no insights have been gained, nothing lasting is given, so I pass them on to someone else and forget all about them. Some writing "coaches" seem to suggest that this is all a writer should do (entertain, and nothing more) but I beg to differ.

Yet I do like sufficient scenes to keep the story moving, and not just ramble on with the protagonist's thoughts and impressions. And this is where I felt Far North was lacking.

Posted on Feb 2, 2011 3:42:18 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
Lupus,
That's exactly what I thought about Far North. It got boring and at the end what she's raising a child that might turn out just like her, reclusive and combative. I much more prefered the book Far North by Will Hobbs not PA and it's a Young Adult novel, but an excellent story of survival in the wild.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2011 3:26:41 AM PST
bandcandy says:
Lupus - I haven't started The Drowned World yet, but will read it over the next week or so - I don't get as much time to read as I would like. As a matter of fact I struggled with the ending of The Chrysalids, not from a narrative point of view but because I found it ethically questionable and it just annoyed me - but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book overall and it did make me think. I'm interested in the Ballard as it seems to be on a global warming theme, written perhaps before this became such a controversial issue. I'll let you know what I think when I have finished.
I am very pleased you bought my book and will of course be interested to hear your response.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 10:54:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2011 10:56:37 AM PST
bandcandy says:
Lupus - I have now finished Drowned World, The and would categorise it as one of those books which I am glad to have read, rather than one I greatly enjoyed. To begin with I found Ballard's writing style hard going - it is possible to be literary whilst still being easy and elegant (Dickens) - and there wasn't so much as a glimmer of humour. Having said that, the book was strongly atmospheric, almost surrealist in its portrayal of drowned London, and there is no questioning the potency of the writing. I found the savagery - reminiscent of the degradation of the boys in "Lord of the Flies" challenging, as no doubt the author intended. Couldn't quite grasp why they all sat at the end of the world and still dressed for dinner and stayed at the Ritz (although I might choose to do so myself) and thought Beatrice was a useless, lethargic lump - and she was the only female portrayed.
Can't comment on the ending because they unaccountably failed to include the final chapter on my Kindle version. I turned the page and it just wasn't there. ;)

Thank you for the recommendation. I'd welcome another to expand my PA education.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2011 2:43:47 PM PST
Lupus says:
bc:

Well, I really wanted to discuss the ending with you, but if you don't know what it is, I'm reluctant to tell you unless you want me to. It was the ending that really got me griping. Ballard has a good rep, and he's proved to us both, I think, that he has his skills in hand, but so many times I have gone through whole books, with rapt attention, only to get bent out of shape by the way an author decided to end it. I have to wonder why so many authors fail to recognize a reader's expectations for the fate of the protagonist, after skirting so many pitfalls with him/her.

I too have just finished a book by Gwyneth Jones called "Bold as Love," and it's a SF book, only loosely in the PA category. Are you familiar with this author? If you are, I'd like to discuss her work. I only read 1/2 of her 400-page (approximate) book called "Life," so I was determined to read BAL in its entirety. Why? Because I think she's intelligent and talented, and though I couldn't finish "Life," I wanted to see how I felt about a complete work. Let me know if you're familiar with her, bc.

Well, I should certainly get your book by tomorrow. I ordered it from Amazon, along with Noah's book and terryd's...oh, maybe you'll think I'm making this up, but I was just interrupted in this message by the ringing of my doorbell, and it was the book order, delivered by snail mail! Finally!
It was due here on the 4th, but it came by way of Dallas, Texas, and that city got seriously snowed in for several days because of a recent blizzard that hit much of the US. You probably don't know that this weather is highly unusual for Dallas, but it is. Anyway, here are the 3 books, and I'll probably tackle your book first, for the simple reason that it's the shortest of the three. But don't expect me to gobble it up in one day, because there's only a limited time of the day I can devote to book-reading, and I do have a couple of library books I have to read since they're due back next week.

If you really want me to discuss your work, I have the same hesitation I would have with Noah and terryd, namely, that I have had personal contact (no matter how limited)with you three authors, so I'll be reluctant to say anything too critical because I have no wish to hurt your book sales. Know what I mean? Yes, there's only a few people who follow this discussion, but it does affect what I would say. And probably you might really want my honest opinion.

But I'm not kidding, I just now received them.

Let me know if you're aware of Gwyneth Jones as a SF writer, and if so, what you think of her work.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 3:10:08 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
Lupus did you know that Bold as Love has a sequel? Castles made of Sand and Band of Gypsies. I haven't read her, but was looking her up to see if I wanted to invest time and effort into her. What do you think is she worth a read? BAL only had one review on Amazon and it was favorable she's classified as Fantasy according to the reviewer. Castles got better and more reviews.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 4:01:28 PM PST
Lupus says:
BJ:

Yes, I knew BAL has a sequel. It told me that in the last few words of the book. BJ, I can't honestly recommend Bold As Love. I had good expectations for the book. I had given up on the reading of her longer work, "Life" about halfway through, not because she is a bad writer, but because I found the subject (trials and tribs of graduate students in England) just too parochial and uninteresting to me. So I came to BAL with determination to read the whole work. Well, I did, and I'm not really sorry I did, but I really had to force myself to continue reading. Jones is considered a writer of SF and Fantasy, so take your pick about where BAL belongs. In a nutshell, the story line is this: the world economy is in tatters and people are suffering around the globe. England, however, is in the throes of a "Dissolution" campaign which seeks to dissolve the United Kingdom and leave Wales, England and Scotland separate nations again. And in this turmoil, a Counter-Culture Council is formed that supposedly will rule the country, though the "suits" will continue running the government. And how will the counter-culture people rule? By persuasion, via rock concert tours.

There are 3 major characters: Fiorinda, a messed-up little teeny-bopper star; Ax, and Sage, each of them a part of rock music groups. So they go around the country (England only) on concert tours in which the performers are usually drunk or whacked-out on drugs. Fantasy or SF? She's touted as a SF writer and this novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Well, here's my beef: it was tunnel vision, and I felt claustrophobic fairly early in the book. Wanted to watch a spaghetti-western flick to rid my mind of the fleas it acquired in BAL.

If you're English, and obsessed with being such, and a fanatical rock music fan just dying for juicy gossip about the intimacies and lunacies of rock musicians, and you use the F-word as noun, adjective and verb (and everything in between), then you may get off on this book, but I'm not a person who cares for any of these things. I mean, I understand the constant profanity in the sense that maybe rock musicians really talk in this limited fashion, but when I see the F-word sprinkled liberally on every single page, well, it gets a bit much, know what I mean? And Jones apparently writes from an omniscient POV, and she head-hops through every scene in the book, with dizzying effect, and you have personal thoughts and opinions thrown about all over the place, and sometimes you don't know whose thoughts they are. (The author? A character? Which character?) But you know something, I got used to her quirky way of writing, so in a sense it worked, at least for me. But the poison was the rather slimy characters, and my lack of interest or identification with any of them.

There's a lot more to the story than what I briefly summarized, so it's possible you may like it, but I really doubt it, BJ. I do remember when I read the last words on the final page, I was shocked, even somewhat dismayed, to think that there would actually be a sequel to this. Then I had a good laugh, and I wondered if any of the critics who fawned over the book ever read it, cover-to-cover, or whether they just parrot a script that originated elsewhere.

Again, I think this woman is very intelligent and she sure gets wrapped up in her tale, but I just couldn't cultivate an interest in the events or the characters, and that's why I had to force myself to finish it. And I guess my pre-critical opinion is that I find Jones just too damned parochial, despite her obvious talents. But others may like this book, but I don't think you will, BJ. It was loosely what you might call PA, but not in a strict sense.

Well, another author I had high expectations for, and I just keep on trying, looking for that book that will really turn me on.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 6:09:11 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
Not only is there one additional book but two--doesn't sound like my kind of book either. My grandmother always said, "if you have to use profanity then your vocabulary isn't big enough." I know some kids today use the f word all the time for every occasion, but I also do not like to read pages and pages of it repeating--I want to say OK I get it! I am getting ready to read The Book of Dave, I hope it's better than Cantical for Liebowitz--that got boring after a time to me anyway. I'll let you know about Dave's book. :) Thanks for the information. I think I'll pass not just on your recommendation but on the reviews as well, I'm not much into fantasy and regular SF doesn't appeal to me either--I love PA :)!

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 7:23:13 PM PST
Lupus says:
BJ:

Yes, I knew there were two more books planned by Jones about the Rock and Roll Revolution (BAL and subsequent titles). Find it hard to believe, but I'm used to differing with other readers. You, too, eh? Didn't care for Canticle for Leibowitz. Neither did I. I know it's supposed to be a classic and all that, but I thought it got boring with all that Latin and the monastic routine, topped off by pseudo-scientific babble. I guess I missed not having ANY romance or adventure and very little action. Not that I'm hooked on those things, but I spent some time in a monastery in my youth, and I sure wouldn't want to write a story centered in a cloister, even in a PA age.

Gwyneth Jones' story may evolve into a true PA book. I could see the story working toward that end. Already there are Boat People filled with refugees coming to England, and the world could be headed to a complete civilization collapse, though it hadn't happened yet in BAL. I just couldn't empathize with any of those drugged-out weirdos, however, and I couldn't see that they would save anyone's bacon. At least two of the main characters seemed to have suffered nervous breakdowns in the story, and the third was very close to it. I just had the feeling that Jones may have been a hippie rock fan and was reminiscing about "the good old days" that must have been pretty screwed up, the way she describes her characters. It's too bad. There are things I like about her writing, but this is the second book of hers that I found just too parochial, too limited and local, if you get what I mean.

I'm not familiar with The Book of Dave. Is it a PA book? One of those "after nuclear fallout" books, or what? Can you give me a brief report on it after you've finished reading it? I'm expanding my PA collection. I have over 700 books in my private library, but at least 60-70% of them are non-fiction, though that composition is slowly changing.

I think, from what you've said in these discussions thus far, that our literary tastes are not too different, at least in PA books.

Hey, BJ, just to satisfy my curiosity: what do you like so much about PA literature? Is it the end of everything as we know it, or the chance for a new beginning? Or none of the above? Just wondered. I came across one PA fan who really seemed hooked on total destruction of everything, and that got me to wondering about the state of his mind. Not that I suspect that of you, but just curious, as I said. My main interest seems to be in the dissolution of so much in modern society I don't like, and hey, how would you go about starting over? That kind of questioning. Does that make me a fringie or a loose cannon? Potential terrorist? Nah, don't think so. Not hating enough, I guess.

CU later, BJ.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 7:27:17 PM PST
Zerohouse says:
Thanks for the warning about "Bold as Love" and the others. I think it's doubly dumb to name a series of books after Jimi Hendrix song titles. What an insult to his memory. I read "A Canticle for Liebowitz" years ago and thought it was a dull read too. I don't recall that I finished it. Maybe I should give it another look someday. I concur with B.J. Ryan that the overuse of profanity whether in writing or speech reveals lack of depth but the entertainment media has drilled these words into the vocabularies of so many people now, that their use is nearly universal rendering most of them unimpressive. Sadly there are people who use these words in nearly every sentence they speak as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Whenever I go out to shop I seem to run across these types, some even have children in tow. So I wouldn't find it totally incorrect to have characters in a near future PA setting that speak this way.

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 8:49:53 PM PST
Claudia says:
I can't imagine anyone who didn't like Canticle liking The Book of Dave. The latter requires quite a bit of thinking while reading, which is something I enjoy on occasion, and at other times is something I'd rather avoid when I'm just wanting an easy read to enjoy. The Book of Dave, I thought, was anything but easy reading. I did manage to fall into the pattern after a while, but it took at least 1/3 of the book to get there, and I nearly gave up on it several times.

I did like A Canticle for Leibowitz, but didn't care for the sequel.

I read PA fiction because I think the reality of it, in some form or other, is inevitable. Some sort of civilization, in the sense that we know it, may arise in the aftermath, but it's always in the back of my mind that as long as humanity is planet-bound there's the distinct possibility of an extinction level event.

After all, the dinosaurs were here for far longer than hominids have been . . . and they're gone, every last one of them.
So far, I see nothing special about us that would save us from the same fate, unless something changes.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2011 9:12:14 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
What I like so much about PA literature is the struggle of surviving the event and the survival instincts of the characters. My favorite PA books are The Stand, Lucifer's Hammer, Swan Song, Wolf and Iron, The End Comes to Hickory Hollow, and the Deep Winter series by T C Sherry. All of these books describe in some detail of people surviving these horrific events and making a new and different life for themselves and other surviors. There are so many really great PA books I cannot begin to list all of the ones I've really liked. I don't like gratuitous violence, zombies (I hate Zombies), or torture scenes--I'm not naive enough to think that these things will never happen (except zombies) just that I don't choose to read about them--too much imagination stimulation :)!

I also really like stories of real people who leave the city and move to farms, foreign countries, wildness areas, etc. and make new lives for themselves. Those sort of back to nature and a simplier life. I think these non-fiction stories may hold the key to starting over and building a new society.

I too have an extensive library that has 60 to 70% non-fiction books. I don't hold many fiction books in my library because most of the time once I've read them I'm finished with them. I enjoy the discussions on this site, everyone seems to respect the views of everyone else and while sometimes they try and change differing opinions of some of the PA works they don't get obnoxious if one doesn't agree with them--I'm thinking of the long discussion we all had on "that book" :)

I would like to think that the world could change itself into a better place, but don't hold much hope for that--maybe a catalysmic event would be the catalyst for a change for the better--sometimes I think that all of our technology is only alienating us futher not bring us into closer communication. It seems that our lives have gotten more complicated and fuller with all of the modern inventions and timesavers and we were perhaps better off when things were simplier. (Here I may be guilty of projecting every generations fears that their lives are more complicated than the ones before us.)
I think the people in the Middle-Ages probably thought thier lives were as complicated as ours are--it's all a matter of perspective.
Enough rambling--ttyl
BJ

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 9:15:53 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
@ Claudia--Thanks for the tip on The Book of Dave. It sounded similar to Leibowitz ,but I was hoping for some humor in it--the only thing I liked about Canticle was the wandering Jew making his appearance just before the note was found.

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 2:35:32 AM PST
bandcandy says:
Lupus - when I said that they had failed to give me the last chapter I was half joking - at least, I hope I was joking; I may just be confused. I honestly did turn to the next page on my Kindle expecting a concluding chapter and found only a biography of the author. There was not so much an end to the story as a place where the writer stopped, almost as if he had exhausted all his passion on Strangman and wasn't bothered about Kerans any more. The same goes for Beatrice - not that I cared that much about her. No idea what she does - and is she still wearing the ballgown?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 12:16:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2011 1:35:51 PM PST
@Lupus, Just saw your comment about concerns regarding giving honest feedback to authors you've gotten to know on the board. I understand completely! And while I certainly hope you'll love my book, I understand that not everybody will. Please feel free to be honest, IF you have an opinion that you're moved to share. All I ask is polite honesty if you hate it, not flattery! :)

EDIT: But I think you might like it..... ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 2:53:07 PM PST
Lupus says:
Claudia:

Well, it might be a good thing if we are planet-bound, otherwise we might be just as rapacious in other regions of the universe (assuming we could even get there). For the sake of other life forms that might possibly exist, I hope we don't get free of the planet until we learn to control the most destructive traits of our species. One of our greatest faults seems to be our inability to consider future consequences for what we do today. We seem hard-wired to think just in terms of ourselves and our offspring, and let the devil take the future.

Yes, the dinosaurs were here far longer than we have been, but they had a more or less stable climate in which to thrive. But there's one tremendous difference between humans and dinos, and that's our remarkable adaptability. We wouldn't be alive today if it were not for that, and it is the one thing that gives me hope about a future for us.

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 3:16:08 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
I read today that on April 13, 2036 we are going to be hit by an Astroid--at least a very good chance, this has been determined by the Russians. I wonder if anyone will try and figure out in the next 25 years how to prevent this?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 3:18:53 PM PST
Lupus says:
bandcandy:

I don't have the Ballard book in my private collection. It was a book borrowed from the public library; thus, I can't refresh my memory about certain events. But let's see: Kerans is the main character, the protagonist that we accompany all through the story. Is that right? Well, I really got impatient with all of the descriptions of lagoons and the strange dreams and the "sun drumming" and so on, and I thought Kerans should go back to Camp Byrd (?) with Col. Riggs, but my recollection is that he just wandered off to what I felt was his certain death. Was he supposed to be some kind of new Adam? Are we supposed to believe that this one individual was going to evolve backwards and become some kind of lagoon-dwelling creature that could live in 200-degree temperatures? That's my recall of it, anyway, and if there's one thing that can really tee me off, as a book-lover, it's a novel in which the protagonist survives all manner of crises and hazardous events and then, at the end, just wanders off to die a meaningless death. Then I feel like making a voodoo doll of the author and gleefully sticking pins in it. I can take a tragic ending, say, where the protagonist dies for some worthy cause, or even through plain bad luck; but just to deliberately throw his/her life away for nothing?

Maybe my recall is faulty, but I believe that's the way the story ended. What was the author trying to say? I've read more than one PA book where the protagonist survived against all odds and then just wandered off to his certain death at the end, accomplishing zero. A short story like this wouldn't get me out of sorts, but a full-length novel? Let's face it, reading is an activity, it requires effort (with some authors more than others!), and it's really inconsiderate of the author to end the literary journey in such an offhanded fashion. I am not wedded to fairy-tale endings, but if the protagonist dies in the end, I want some justification for it, not just some mental lapse where he carries out a subconscious death wish.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 3:27:11 PM PST
Lupus says:
BJ:

Wow! No kidding? An asteroid? Sounds like the script for a disaster movie. 2036? I probably won't be around then, but my children and grandchildren should be, so for their sake, at least, I hope we can get some global cooperation to meet a potential threat of this nature. Of course, we always knew this possibility existed, but now someone (other than "the end is coming" manic types) has actually put a date on the event? Where did you read this, BJ?

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 3:33:37 PM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
Fox news: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/02/10/doomsday-determined-asteroid-apophis-strike-earth/
Interesting read--

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 3:37:52 PM PST
Lupus says:
Noah:

I "grok" you, to quote a character in a Heinlein novel (know which one?). But it's easier said than done. Oh, you can rest assured I won't be poisonous or crude or hateful, even if I hate the book. But I probably won't, anyway. I hope I like all 3 of the books I received yesterday in the mail (bc's, yours and terryd's) which I haven't begun to read yet. One positive note, already: I like the larger print in your book; makes for easier reading. (Well, I had to examine the physical product, even though I haven't started reading it yet. I have problems with those Mass Market editions that have tiny and crowded text and inflexible spines.)

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 3:46:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2011 3:47:51 PM PST
Lupus,

I wonder if they have sent you one of the very early prints of the book? I originally had the book spaced at 1.5. I decided that it really looked like it was a "large print" edition and so I changed it from 1.5 to 1. How many pages is your copy? If it's more than 400 you have an early copy.

Do you like the back cover on the print edition? I took that photo in an ancient forest in England, and then I just reversed the colors.

"Grok" comes from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange land. It was a concept that was integral to my senior project in college about the expression of experiences! :) In fact, my college Dungeon and Dragons character (the last one I ever played) was named Grokk W. Skullbashenslammer III! ;)

Posted on Feb 11, 2011 2:38:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2011 2:39:59 AM PST
bandcandy says:
"Are we supposed to believe that this one individual was going to evolve backwards and become some kind of lagoon-dwelling creature that could live in 200-degree temperatures? "
Yes, I thought the whole "new Adam" idea made more poetic than realistic sense. Perhaps with Ballard his rather poetic literary style was both his best and his worst feature - his imagery is brilliant and evocative, but in the end we do not find the story realistically convincing.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2011 6:53:30 AM PST
B. J. Ryan says:
I have the same sentiment about "The Wind from Nowhere" The premiss was believeable--large change in the atmosphere causes a weather gradient that produces tornado force winds. The struggle for everyone to find a place that was safe and secure from the winds and then at the end the protagonist just wanders off--strange that J G Ballard.

Posted on Feb 11, 2011 7:09:28 AM PST
Zerohouse says:
RE: Asteroid Apophis may strike in 2036. The article that B.J. was kind to share with us mentions a near pass in late 2012 or early 2013. I don't want to seem alarmist or superstitious, but that's very close to the end of the Mayan calendar which predicts the end of time. Personally I don't buy into this prophecy, but it is an interesting coincidence. The Russians have tentative plans to try to explode this asteroid which could have catastrophic consequences. It would make more sense to try to land a craft on it as it passes close to Earth for scientific analysis and to alter its course so that it won't be back to visit. As to the future of space exploration that was mentioned, by mid-century robotic engineering will have already produced robots that will be self aware and probably superior to humans in several aspects. I predict that they will carry the seeds of life into space rather than try to send humans to other solar systems. A robotic mission could find a habitable world and then activate viable human and animal embryos as well as other flora and fauna if the planet has no life on it. Otherwise the robots could make contact with intelligent life on a planet if that is deemed prudent. Like the great physicist Stephen Hawking warns, any intelligent alien beings that would bother to travel to Earth may not be "friendly." That's not to say they would necessarily be hostile either but it's important not to rule this out. Many believe at least one alien culture is currently present or has been on Earth, possibly as a refueling site because of the supply of water available. Personally I need more proof, but that proof may have been withheld from the public as in the so-called Roswell incident. With present technology and near future advances, humans may be able to colonize Mars and perhaps other areas of the solar system, but not much farther out without a huge leap in our technical abilities and life spans.
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