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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

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Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

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Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

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Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

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Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
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REVIEW | Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (Night Shade)

In the not so distant future resources are scarce and jobs are even scarcer. Water is a commodity. Biological agents are being released around the world and society is slowly degrading into tribal-like groups just out for survival. Anarchy is reigning over everything as society looses their way and Jasper is just trying to find his way through it all and hopefully a girlfriend.

Will McIntosh, winner of the Hugo for best short story, has certainly impressed me creating a believable future and understandable characters. Soft Apocalypse is McIntosh's horrifyingly realistic debut of an apocalyptic nature. Only he turns the idea of an apocalypse a bit on its ear by showing it through the rise of the everyday unprepared people rather than the survivalist who instinctively "knows" what to do and frames it around the love life, or lack thereof of one character skipping ahead through time by months and sometimes years to see how he and the world develops.

The reason apocalyptic stories rarely get stale for me is because of the human factor and unexpectedness of the characters reactions during conflicts and McIntosh loads Soft Apocalypse with conflicts aplenty. I mean, does everyone know what they would do if their friends were being attacked by a crazy group of militants? Most would think they'd like to help, but when the shit gets real many would just turn and run.

Soft Apocalypse really gets inside the head of its main character Jasper. We slowly see how each situation he finds himself in changes him from a very naïve post-grad leading him into what he becomes and why he makes certain decisions. At times he can seem like a wimp or a pushover yet he isn't faced with easy choices, but Jasper is, generally, able to move on and find the resolve to do what needs to be done. People faint of heart should beware.  Soft Apocalypse is often an unsettling book in many ways. People and animals are dying all around, many of which happen from unspeakable acts that occur daily.

Soft Apocalypse is made in the mold of Earth Abides by George Stewart yet even more believable. Thoughts of a prequel in the world of Mad Max also come to mind. McIntosh shows that even in the worst of times life goes on, but it is ever changing. I give Soft Apocalypse 8 out of 10 hats. While not perfect Soft Apocalypse is an absorbing read right up to the somber ending. McIntosh has a heck of a career ahead of him and has already signed the contracts for his second novel Deadland retitled to Hitchers with Night Shade that will probably be out in February 2012.

It was also interesting to re-read the short story that was the basis for the novel afterwards to see what was changed and used from the original. The short also gives you a decent idea of what to expect.

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RedEyedGhost said...

Can you explain the "more believable than Earth Abides comment?

Earth Abides is the most realistic and believable post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read by a far margin.

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

RedEyedGhost said...

Another question:

Have you read Sleepless by Charlie Huston? And if so, how do they compare?

The Mad Hatter said...

When compared Soft Apocalypse is a more modern take on how the world would degenerate while now Earth Abides ends up feeling a bit dated however realistic. This is because of the use of what seems like biological tech that would come about in the not so distant future. The book starts in 2023. Also, more reasons are given for the downfall of society while EA takes more of the "disease killed most people" route. You actually get to see the degeneration of society through the eyes of someone low in society.

I did in fact read Sleepless, my review can be found here. If anything Soft Apocalypse is a more hopeful future as it has that kernel of desire to live while Sleepless it feels like most people have given up.

RedEyedGhost said...

Thanks. It sounds like I'll have to check this one out.