Out now is our digital edition of Nick Cole’s fabulous post-apocalyptic novel, THE OLD MAN AND THE WASTELAND.
To celebrate, here is the second of three blogs from the author about dystopia and post-apocalyptia:
No Zombies Allowed!
No disrespect intended. World War Z, fine novel. Day by Day Armageddon, fun read. Even original recipe Night of the Living Dead on the local cable access station at midnight still grabs me. But when it comes to Post-Apocalyptia of the nuclear variety, I prefer my crumbling city, bent and broken highway, and wasteland desert, free of Zekes. Vampires too for that matter. In fact, all the undead and lycanthropes to boot. There’s just no room for them, what with all this global destruction and humanity gone nuts.
Having said that, I’ll add that there is a case to be made for the logical extension of each of these denizens to be justified in the post one-hundred megaton blast zone. Radiation sickness, and the long term effects coupled with the resiliency we find in the human body and lifeforms of all kinds, lends itself to a plausible explanation for lycanthropes, even zombies. A little nano-based bio modification and we’ve got vampires. But once you start down this path, you’re departing from the essence of the Post-Apocalyptic novel. The vintage ‘what happens after?’ uncorked and allowed to breathe, has just been jug-a-lugged with a Zima chaser by a college co-ed. Bio Modified Vampires, Nano Infused Genetically Modified Werewolves, and Radiation Sick Zombies can occur now. Your PA Novel has turned into something else. This is just my opinion. I enjoy my zombies, but there’s no reason not to infuse everything from cyberpunk to steampunk with such creations. For me, writing about what happens in the forty years after a large scale exchange of nuclear weapons and an invasion of the North American Continent by external forces, I chose to leave out the zombies. And werewolves and vampires.
Approaching the end of the world as a milieu, I found there was more than enough in humanity to provide the monsters I’d need to menace the protagonist, an old man who has only one book to read throughout the forty years he spends living in a salvager camp in the American Southwest. Humans and a few animals make great antagonists for a man with the simple mission of trying to find something useful for his village in the hard years after the fall of the United States. These worst of humanity’s antagonists, armed with their parking meter clubs and large heavy rocks, are the Post-Apocalyptic Fiction versions of what it takes to make it through the end of the world as present day sees it, and into the wasteland of the other side. No longer are the survivors concerned with how to make the next million or cheat on their taxes. Now they have to survive in a day-to-day existence that starts with a two year nuclear winter. And all they’ve got are their lack of morals and whatever they can steal, rob or raid from others is the in this Broken New World. In short, what we find in the way of villainy in The Old Man and the Wasteland, is the distilled essence of the worst. The worst that managed to survive. The worst of the worst that survived the bombs, and the winter.
Life after a nuclear war would be pretty hard. The laws we knew, the systems, the largesse would all be gone. Some might find it a paradise, unrestricted in the fulfillment of their every desire. These people, at the end of the forty years and the beginning of the novel, are the distilled essence of the worst.
So, remember that angry redneck with the obscene tattoo and trouble in his eyes when you stopped at that late-night gas station to ask for directions, and when you got back in your car and drove away, you realized how dangerous that had been? Good. In Post-Apocalyptia, he’s got nothing to stop him from doing whatever he wants, now that the world as we knew it has gone up in flames. Zombies, werewolves, vampires. They wouldn’t make it in the Wasteland. Not against that guy. They’re too delicate.