Gerry Canavan is an assistant professor in the English department at Marquette University, teaching 20th and 21st century literature. His current research projects include Science Fiction and Totality and Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Octavia E. Butler, as well as co-editing The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction. His edited collection of critical essays, Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction, is out now from Wesleyan University Press. You can follow Gerry on Twitter as @GerryCanavan.

Dystopia, Anti-Utopia, and the End of the World

by Gerry Canavan

One of my great frustrations as a teacher of science fiction is the imprecision with which we use the word “dystopia.” We typically speak as if “dystopia” is the negation of utopia, but this is not quite right. Dystopian speculation more properly describes the opposite of utopia: utopia is the good place (eu-topia) that is not a place (ou-topia), while dystopia is the bad place (dys-topia). But the bad place of the dystopia still has something to teach us: it is the warning of the bad times that will come if we refuse to act, the reflection of our own bad times that we must work to change. This is why the typical plot of a dystopian narrative is actually pretty hopeful: the story of the heroic revolution that overthrows a corrupt regime, or the time traveler who changes history to prevent it, or the story of how our heroes might run fast enough and far enough to break out of the confinement of the nightmare city altogether and escape into the free and open country outside.
Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: Below Zero by Ben Tripp

REVIEW SUMMARY: Wraps up an innovative zombie-apocalypse duology.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The zombie apocalypse has turned into a wild west where children are used for bait and happy outcomes are few and far between.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: moments of excellent prose and horror; one-of-a-kind zombie mythos; interesting heroine; solid ending.
CONS: weaker middle; weak empathy for secondary characters; disappointed after really enjoying first book.
BOTTOM LINE: The action from an interesting concept of Happy Town’s dark secret, along with the heroine’s emotional journey made this a good read, but the lack of supporting characters you really care about made most of the events only marginally exciting.
Read the rest of this entry

Ben Tripp is the author of Rise Again and Rise Again: Below Zero, a two-part apocalyptic zombie saga for Gallery. The sequel comes out on December 17, 2013.

He has an upcoming trilogy of rollicking young adult novels in the historical fantasy genre for Tor, the first of which is The Accidental Highwayman. In addition, Gallery has secured rights to his first foray into the vampire genre, The Fifth House of the Heart.

Tripp is an artist, writer, and designer who has worked with major entertainment companies and motion picture studios for more than two decades. He was for many years one of the world’s leading conceptualists of public experiences, with a global portfolio of projects ranging from urban masterplanning to theme parks. Now he writes novels full-time.

He lives with his wife (Academy Award-winning writer/ producer Corinne Marrinan) in Los Angeles.


Tim Ward: RISE AGAIN: BELOW ZERO is a highly anticipated sequel to RISE AGAIN. For those who haven’t read RISE AGAIN, please share the enthusiasm you had for that story and its characters and how you sought to have it make its mark on the zombie genre.
Read the rest of this entry

Editor John Joseph Adams has launched the website companion for The Apocalypse Triptych, a trio of anthologies he’s co-editing with Hugh Howey being released in stages starting next year.

Here’s what the anthologies are about:

Edited by acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction, exploring three different facets of the form:
THE END IS NIGH: pre-apocalyptic stories—exploring the world on the brink of collapse. (Forthcoming June 2014)
THE END IS NOW: apocalyptic stories—exploring the end of the world as it happens. (Forthcoming December 2014)
THE END HAS COME: post-apocalyptic stories—exploring life after the end of the world. (Forthcoming June 2015)
THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH will include stories by authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Ben H. Winters, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Sigler, Robin Wasserman, and many more. Additionally, each volume will include a brand new story by Hugh Howey set in the world of his bestselling novel Wool.
Don’t want to risk missing out on news about THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH? Sign up for John Joseph Adams’s free newsletter (sent out no more than once or twice a month) to receive updates about THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH, as well as news about his other editorial projects.

Like John’s other anthology websites, the site for The Apocalypse Triptych will be loaded with tons of great content, like:
Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: Fiend by Peter Stenson

REVIEW SUMMARY: The zombie apocalypse has never been more engrossing, heart-wrenching, or personal. I rooted for this hero with held breath.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A pair of drug addicts open their window to a zombie apocalypse, run for their lives and fight for what they’ll love more: sober life or death.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Front-to-back engaging; phenomenal ending; emotionally powerful characters; scary zombies; survivalist setting.
CONS: The sexual descriptions, while consistent with the gory details throughout, were more than this reader preferred.
BOTTOM LINE: Best read of the year. Best zombie book, ever. Masterful illustration about how painful and overwhelming addiction can be – over love, over family, and over being a good human being, even in the face of losing one’s life to a zombie horde.
Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: Extinction Point by Paul Antony Jones

REVIEW SUMMARY: A terrifying apocalypse for monster fans and survivalists that loses reader interest through plot holes and a weak main character.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Red Rain creates a post-apocalyptic world for a bike-riding journalist to explore alone.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Offers a fresh take on post-apocalyptic fiction; appeals to survivalist fans; scary; quick read.
CONS: The implausibility of scenario and heroine’s survival tactics; passive conflict resolution.
BOTTOM LINE: The story has promise, but the poor execution and attention to detail may kill the series for some readers.
Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey

REVIEW SUMMARY: The sequel trilogy to the best seller, Wool Omnibus, which takes a leap back in time to show how the chaos started.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A silo architect finds out too late what he’s been building, loses track of his wife and memories, and must uncover the secret behind the silo in order to make everything right.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Strong beginning; empathy for major characters; challenging philosophical themes about war and sacrifice to survive as a human race.
CONS: Third Shift (Book Three) slowed the story way down with minor revelations and sparse action.
BOTTOM LINE: While the first half gave hope that this sequel could surpass Wool Omnibus, the story went downhill from there. Shift is still recommended for Wool fans, and it will not kill interest in reading the concluding volume although but it did not meet expectations.

(Spoiler Warning: This review will have spoilers for people who have not read Wool, and only general spoilers for those who have yet to read Shift. Reviews for First Shift: Legacy and Second Shift: Order can be seen at the reviewer’s home page.)
Read the rest of this entry

Your Near-Future Post-Apocalypse Has Arrived: H+ The Digital Series

Humanity goes offline. Survival goes on.

That’s the tagline of a cool near-future post-apocalyptic web series called H+. Produced by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects), H+: The Digital Series “takes viewers on a journey into an apocalyptic future where technology has begun to spiral out of control… a future where the world’s population has retired its cell phones and laptops in favor of a stunning new device by Hplus Nano Teoranta, an innovative technology company that has found a way to connect the Internet to the human mind 24 hours a day.”

New episodes every Wednesday.

It’s quite well done, surpassing many television shows in terms in quality and concept.

Chapter 1 (the first 6 videos) after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

Last night, NBC premiered an extended preview of J.J. Abrams’ new post-apocalyptic series premiering this Fall. Revolution is set in a near-future world 15 years after the world loses power.

Check it out after the jump and tell us what you think…
Read the rest of this entry

TRAILER: “Islands” – A Post-Apocalyptic SciFi Comedy

Islands is a post-apocalyptic SciFi comedy stage production by Graham Porter:

The year is 2512. The human species has survived nuclear amargeddon – sort of. The survivors on a small Pacific island have rebuilt civilization the best they could. An oligargy of ruling intellectuals control the hearts and minds of the population in order to guide it into the future. Everything seems peaceful in this island paradise. But are the citizens as happy as they seem to be? Or are there darker forces at work….

Here’s the trailer:
Read the rest of this entry

Short Film: ‘Ruin’

Ruin, directed by Wes Ball, is a superbly done short film set in a green post-apocalyptic future. I could easily watch another 90 minutes of this.

[via /Film]

[GUEST POST] David Moody on The Post-Post-Apocalypse

David Moody is the critically-acclaimed author of Hater, Dog Blood, Them and Us and the Autumn series. He lives in the UK.

The Post-Post-Apocalypse

We’re taught from early days that all stories must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Take my genre of choice – post-apocalyptic fiction. You have the beginning – the event – then the middle as our cast of characters inevitably have to fight to survive in what’s left of their world, but what about the end? Sure, there are countless stories which wrap things up with nihilistic ‘we’re all screwed’ finales, and even more with awful and lazy ‘oh, suddenly everything’s okay again’ endings, but I think there are more stories left to be told. What happens when the initial danger has faded and those who remain are left to pick up the pieces?

I’m talking about the post-post-apocalypse, and I think it’s fascinating.
Read the rest of this entry

The Silent City: A Post-Apocalyptic Web Series

There’s a new post-apocalyptic web series on the horizon. Possibly. The Silent City is a new kickstarter project looking for financial backing. Here’s how it’s desribed:

Welcome to New York City. Population: 01

When an unexplained event decimates the human race, the survivors fight for their lives in the ruins of civilization.

A decade later, the dangers of the new world taken their toll. Hopelessness and isolation have felled many of the original survivors, and now one man walks alone, determined to endure against all odds

And here’s a trailer:
Read the rest of this entry