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Texas Bill

Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

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I went ahead and downloaded Hatchet and Brian's Winter from Kindled for later reading. I need to archive some stuff because I think I am starting to overload my Kindle's memory.

 

I just finished Target Earth and Target Earth II by Cheryl Cholley. These are her first books and there are some errors here but still enjoyable. Their BOL is completely over the top (a cave is converted to a massive complex of chambers, all accomplished DIY labor), but I can tell her heart is in the right place. As you would hope from a new author, her writing gets better as it goes along and I found the second book more professionally written than the first. The premise is a massive killer asteroid is spotted and mankind has a year to prepare for the expected impact, so these preppers kick things into high gear and get their cave up to speed for surviving the end of the world. While they are working, civilization starts coming apart around them. SPOILER- the impact does not take place until near the end of the second book, and there is a third book on the way. Almost all of the first book is spent detailing their preps, and the second book centers on one of the members who is stuck in Tucson while the impact takes place. The circumstances for his delay are just too contrived for me but I still enjoyed the story.

 

I like to support authors who don't portray preppers as being gun-happy ghouls anxious for the end of the world. These are normal folks she is writing about and I like reading how she develops the characters, though they seemed two dimensional at first. These are both full sized books and I think they were only $1.99or $2.99 each, so the price is right, too.

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I just read The Bellwether by James Nelson and I can't decide how I feel about it. On one hand, good stuff on prepping and homesteading but on the other, the book is full of stuff that really doesn't fit with the rest of the story. There is a whole subplot of a racist group of whites bent on destroying all Native Americans that just does not mesh with the story as a whole. Also, this is a long book and had to wade through a lot of useless stuff to actually get to the story itself. Anyway, I got it for free so I can't complain too much.

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Just finished the most recent installment(s) of the Novels of the Change series by SM Stirling. The first couple of books were great for their TEOTWAWKI perspective on surviving a major upheaval and I appreciated that they were set in my neck of the woods. But it definitely moves into a modern version of a Lord of the Rings-type saga, which, while enjoyable, isn't exactly where my interests have been lately. Alas, I do like the characters enough to want to find out what happens to each of them, even though they are so expensive! LOL

 

I also read TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story by David Craig. It was... meh. Nothing too original, nothing too exciting, but overall enjoyable. The main character is a bit too much of a Dudley Dooright to seem likely to survive - and in a pattern very similar to the leads in the A Very Good Man and Proxy novels, although able to occasionally score with chicks. :P

 

And I read Land (A Stranded Novel) by Theresa Shaver. It's about a group of high school kids who are at Disneyland - far from their home in Canada - when massive nuclear strikes/EMPs take place all over the world. They are with a group of classmates and a couple of teachers, and basically five kids head north by Land (this novel) five kids head north by Sea (the next novel), and then the teachers and rest of the students head to the Canadian embassy in Los Angeles to look for help. It was... okay... but almost entirely improbable. They benefit from several random acts of kindness, take on an entire biker gang when the local sheriff can't manage it, challenge the border patrol... It's a bit difficult to believe, but still fairly fun to read.

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I have long been a fan of S.M. Stirling but I have not read the last few books in that series. Just not up for another retelling of Arthurian tale. Sort of like deciding to write a Western and telling the story of Billy the Kid. I enjoyed Land but I had some of the same issues as you. This was more a story of "pay it forward" than a serious survival novel, but it is geared towards the Young Adult crowd. I did laugh at the "Maple Leaf Mafia" name for their little group.

 

Funny you should mention P.S. Power since i just finished the two Keely Thompson Demon books. Some pretty dark stuff in there and a bit of a departure for this author but overall I enjoyed them both.

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I may have to check out the Keely Thompson books, then. I issues with some of PS Power's themes, and serious questions about his mental state given how anti-authoritarian and misogynistic he is, but man, are his books compelling and DIFFERENT! It's worth the "yes, yes, women treat nice guys horribly" and "of course all police are out to get you and are basically bullies with badges" stuff just for the originality factor alone.

 

The Maple Leaf Mafia thing completely cracked me up, too. They'd be the only gang that would shoot you and then apologize, offer you a (weak) beer, and subsidize your hospital stay afterward... :D

 

How can you possibly think that SM Stirling's work is a new Arthurian tale? I mean, sure, there's that juggling act between mysticism/paganism and the Church. And a quest for a sacred object. And someone who is meant to be a king to unite warring people against an outside foe. And yes, the foe is supernatural and, like, WAY evil. All right, I'll concede that the half-siblings and convoluted bloodlines of some of the characters may seem a bit Arthurian, but it's not like Matti/Guinevere is in love with anyone else. Plus the would-be knights actually include some women. And, okay, they talk about "the sword of the Lady" but hello, it's on an ISLAND not coming from a LAKE or shoved in a STONE. So it's totally different.

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That whole Lancelot and Guinevere hooking up thing only came up in later years as part of the Man's campaign to put women in their place. Definitely has a touch of Eve to it. The main issues I have with PS Power and the Infected series actually got better in Gabriel. Not so much cop bashing, anyway. Actually, the cop stuff may be part of a bigger mind control thing going on behind the scenes.

 

I have Wrath of the Dodo on my Kindle right now andI am about half way through it. Set in Montana five years after a bird flu pandemic knocked off a big chunk of the population. Story is about a family and the folks they take in trying to make a go of it while dealing with bandits, bad weather and a rapidly failing tech base. Good stuff.

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I finished Wrath of the Dodo and I recommend it to the readers here. I found it to be interesting and well thought out. I am waiting for a seque. I also read Obliterated by C.J. Hall and I thought it makes for a good prepper primer and well worth the read but I never fel really engaged by the characters. I think this may have just been because the book was a combo, sort of like A Distant Eden, with survival tips structured around a story. Also, the ending was a little too pat.

 

Now I am out of survival related titles on my Kindle and I need some recommendations from the folks out there who are also fiction readers. Please, more books!

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I bought a real stinker entitled Aftermath by Chris Pearson. I even got afree sample and that read pretty good so I bought the whole book but this is not a tale written for even the most casual of preppers. Or anybody else with half a brain, for that matter. As I said, the story begins very well with a description of a massive earthquake completely demolishing most of California. The biggest problems have to do with the author just leaving HUGE plot holes and apparently doing no research before sitting down to write this. Even high schoolers do more research slapping together a book report.

 

Logic and common sense rapidly fly out the window as the tale progresses. For example, no one from outside ever shows up to help the refugees stuck in their camps FOR YEARS drinking polluted water with no mention of cholera, while somehow thousands manage to survive on salvaged canned goods and the planting of crops is only barely mentioned in passing. Also, apparently, no one in Cali is smart enough to rig up a simple radio because the survivors have no idea what is going on in the rest of the country, and strangely the survivors never get curious enough to send out scouts to discover the truth. Then there is the matter of the Compound...heck, I can't even list all the stuff fundamentally wrong with this book. Added to the mess, this book features one of the worst endings I have ever had the misfortune to encounter anywhere. I feel bad trashing something that I know the author worked hard at creating, but the effort was just not thought out at all. Avoid.

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Okay, guys, I have a short little crossover book for your reading pleasure entitled Sample 28 by Culex Pipiens. I almost didn't get it because the author's name sounded so twee (I couldn't decide if it was a little known Tolkien character or a laboratory instrument). Sorry, I usually don't make fun of a person's name, but seriously? Anyway, I am glad I picked it up because it turned out to be a pretty nice little story about a handful of "flu" survivors, and WARNING: does feature some zombie like creatures but they are the least of our survivors problems. Anyway, the author is either a prepper or has done a ton of research because he has the lingo and the preps down cold and one of the characters is pretty much a Rawlesian prototype (Jim) except he bugged-in rather than heading out to the American Redoubt.

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Dean Ing's Systemic Shock was pretty good. It's a nuclear war type scenario. He's actually written several apocalyptic type books. Heinlein's Time Enough For Love has several good survival parts that were nice. L'Amour's last of the Breed was GREAT.

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Danm, great call. I love Dean Ing and I haven't seen much from him lately (he is in his early 80s) his series beginning with Systemic Shock is great. I think I have that whole set. Also, check out his book The Rackham Files, which is actually three of his stories combined together. The first two are decent reading, dealing with alien invaders, but the third (Pulling Through) is a classic story about survivors after a nuclear attack. He explains how to build a home-made fallout meter there among other things. Available through Baen Books.

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I feel older every day, Wally.

 

Rackham Files by Dean Ing and Wolf and Iron by Gordon R. Dickson are two of the very few fiction books that have made their way into my "survival library." BTW, I was shocked to see that Ing's novella "Pulling Through" was originally actually written in 1955.

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Read two books with interesting premises, one that was more successful than the other.

 

Forecast by Chris Keith

A small crew of British and American adventurers undertake an amazing feat: flying a hot air balloon into the stratosphere, where they will set world records, take pictures, and release scientific devices for NASA. A successful launch means fame, fortune, and glory... Or it would have if nuclear war didn't break out as soon as they reached the top of their ascent. They have to choose between staying with the craft and dying due to lack of oxygen and risking a daring parachute descent into a nuclear wasteland.

 

For such a dramatic premise, this book really lacks dramatic punch (perhaps because most of the characters are British and therefore rather terse and stoic?). The parachute jump is set up by the book description to be amazing and exciting; it's not. The choices characters make are obvious and they benefit from several instances of tremendous good luck. The world is pretty well destroyed, but aside from one horribly depressed character, the rest of them don't really seem to be thinking much in terms of long-term survival for themselves or the species. And the end? Very Deus ex machina, which drives me nuts.

 

Flowertown by SJ Redling

This is TEOTWAWKI on a regional scale, which somehow makes it better and worse. A small town in Iowa is contaminated with a chemical that leaves the people smelling like sickly flowers. The chemical is deadly to most unless it's rigidly monitored and treated with drugs (at which point it's only slowly deadly to most), and it can easily be transmitted to others via any bodily fluids or excretions, even via contact with someone's hair or skin. So the entire town is quarantined and run in a "cooperative" arrangement with the Army and private contractors hired by the company that created the disaster. After seven years, the town is overcrowded, undersupplied, and brimming with conspiracy theories and general resentment.

 

Only, what if the conspiracies are real? What if there are multiple agendas being pursued, some by the town's secretly rebellious residents and some by the government and company officials who have slowly tightened control and undercut the citizens' Constitutional rights (not to mention their access to news and family in the outside world)?

 

The central character is not tremendously likable in many ways - she is so resigned to life as-is that her only thoughts focus on smoking pot or conducting an illicit affair with one of the Army men assigned to their town. And she definitely falls into that mindset where she does fully expect the government to provide for them all and fix everything eventually. But as the novel progresses and she becomes more aware of what's going on, her transformation is impressive and my admiration for her grew. There are a few unexpected twists and turns, some more successful than others, and a LOT of details about how miserable medical side-effects are (hello, vomiting, cold sweat, fatigue, etc. on a massive scale).

 

This is not a typical survival novel in that the rest of the world is pretty much just fine and the food and water supplies aren't really a concern for most of the book. But it IS a good wake-up call about placing blind trust into institutions, especially when there's no viable way to address concerns or escape possible tyranny. And it's an interesting look at how people can work cooperatively to share information and plan for overthrow or escape even right under the noses of an occupying force. And it does start those "what if?" thoughts turning, which I think the best of these novels do.

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Oregonchick, I am with you on Forecast. I thought it would be better. I found the death of one of the characters to be particularly senseless (I think you know which one) and the story, despite a good start, never seemed to go anywhere.

 

I just finished reading The Pulse by Scott Williams and I found it interesting but not worth the $10 pricetag to be honest. Fairly good adventure tale in the the wake of a massive solar flare but uneven in parts. Also, the one character we have in here that was actually prepared comes off as a complete lunatic (falling in line with the media descriptions). I expected more from this author.

 

On a completely different note, I also just completed Another Day in Paradise which has nothing to do with survival or prepping but was an eye-opening read. Details the travails of a captain serving in Afghanistan and the story reads like non-fiction and is crude, rude and strangely touching. Written by Justin Burgess, he could become the voice of his generation.

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Texas Bill, completely agree about the character's death. It was one among several plot points that had me asking, "And the reason for this was...?" because it didn't do anything to actually move the book along. Too bad.

 

Okay, I will skip the $10 letdown. Thanks for the advice! LOL On the other hand, it sounds like it would be worth buying Another Day in Paradise even if it's not technically survival fiction!

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Well, since I got it for free, Another Day in Paradise was a great deal. I would have paid for it, whereas The Pulse was not worth it in my humble opinion. This author has definitely aimed for the prepper community (see his non-fiction offerings) but none of the "good guys" are prepared except for one character (an anthropology grad student) who relies on the tribal wisdom he collected from studying rainforest dwellers in Guyana to guide him. Not a terrible book but not up to the standards I was expecting.

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I picked up a free Kindle read entitled Surviving in America: Under Siege by Paul Andrulis. This book needs heavy editing and spell checking, since for example"sergeant" is spelled "sargent" throughout the entire book. Basically an homage to all the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories out there in the internet, I enjoyed playing "pick the conspiracy" while reading. All the biggies are here, from UN domination to black helicopters, and the story could have been a lot better with some plot development and less preaching. Not terrible for free but I would not pay even 99 cents for it.

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Big Easy, I hear you. The Road is a grim, cautionary tale and I have read it twice. Check out Winter Kill by Gene Skellig and ignore the big, overbuilt panic palace and instead look at how they build a community after a nuclear war. Also, read a Distant Eden. That is some disturbing stuff, too.

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has anyone read freedoms landing series by Anne McCaffrey its sortof a survival story on a planet

aliens conquer the earth and ship people out to various planets and leave them with nothing but a knife a blanket and some food. its quite good and i am currently reading it again for the second time.

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A cautionary note:

 

While I read and enjoy fiction, science fiction, history, just about everything (currently reading the 'Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon' - oldest known law book on the planet) and many of them have some great insights into survival, you have to remember that unless it is historically correct, all you are seeing is the author's idea of what could happen or of what will sell his book!

 

If you read historically correct novels (Louis L'Amour's books ,westerns and his adventures as well as his autobiography for example) or just history (diaries of Louis and Clark for example) you will read about what worked and what didn't work. While the unprepared individual who survives by his wits (and a usually unrecognized helping of LUCK and Deus Ex Machina http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_ex_machina ) makes a fascinating and fast moving story, the true survivors throughout history have been those who prepared. The pioneer who was prepared, well equipped, and knowledgeable is a much less exciting read than 'A Man Called Horse'. The careers of folks like Jedediah Smith are good reads but the life of Hugh Glass is more 'exciting' for the determination to live that he exhibited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Glass

 

Similar events but the difference in preparations is instructive. You MIGHT survive with no preps but you WILL be more COMFORTABLE if you are ready.

 

Just my not so humble opinion.

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Wally, I have that whole series and I have read it at least twice as well. Cool survival story from an unexpected source. Anne McCaffrey usually wrote about dragons and unicorns but I found this series, especially in the early books, to be gritty and down to the basics. Food, water, and shelter were the keys for these survivors.

 

I agree with you Captain Bart, and that was one of the reasons I have not enjoyed the Supervolcano series from Harry Turtledove. The guy usually writes pretty good stuff but his story about how some folks survive the eruption of the supervolcano at Yellowstone has a big dose of that Dues Ex Machina. Same with the book Forecast reviewed above by Oregonchick. In fact, that was my biggest complaint about The Pulse, a book written by an author who writes non-fiction survival guides. The only character in the who book who was prepared for an EMP/Carrington Event turns out to be a lunatic, while the unprepared survive mainly based on luck and completely unbelievable coincidence.

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