Winner of This is the New Plan

Based on the votes yesterday, we have decided a winner!
The winner is….Jamie!
Jamie, email me at char(@)incaseofsurvival(.)com so we can figure out how to get you your e-book of This is the New Plan.
Thanks, everyone, for entering! I enjoyed all of the stories. (Now that the contest is over, you can all write your non-entry stories with those same ten words. Just post in the comments as per usual.)
 

Voting day for the This is the New Plan giveaway

Bet you never thought this day would come, right? But it has! Today is voting day for the This is the New Plan giveaway! You can help change the future reading list of one lucky person–the one who could write the best 250 word piece of flash fiction that had to include a random list of words!
To vote, head on over to the contest page (link here), read the stories (in the comments), and then post your vote as a comment in this entry. As in this one. The one you’re reading now. Why this entry? To make me less confused when going through the votes. I’m easily distracted, after all.
Voting will run from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM Eastern time, today only.
Ready? And…vote!

Broxo by Zack Giallongo

In this wildly entertaining fantasy debut we meet Broxo, the only surviving member of a tribe of barbarians who once occupied a now-desolate mountain. All alone in the world, Broxo spends his time on the mountain hunting and avoiding the man-eating walking dead that periodically drag themselves out of a fetid lake.
 
Everything changes when Zora, a foreign princess, arrives on the mountain seeking Broxo’s lost tribe. Can the two young warriors together defeat the living dead?
 
With accessible and beautiful art, killer fight scenes, and a story that mixes humor, romance, and classic high fantasy, Broxo is a tale you’re sure to enoy.
Broxo [1. provided free by First Second] is a fun, easy read for slightly older children. With just enough romance and horror to keep things interesting, and some absolutely wonderful art, it’s a must-own for anyone who like their children to read.
It uses the standard epic fantasy tropes with a light touch and a knowing attitude, and the message in it seems to prize bravery, familial love and honour, which are all good things. It can be pretty bloody, though, and has some really quite effective moments of horror, so if your children are very sensitive to these things it might be best to read it with them. There are some genuine tear-jerkers within the narrative as well.
I’d have loved this as a child – hell, I loved it as an adult! Well worth grabbing.
[Rating:4/5]
NON-BOOK REVIEW THINGS: If you want to win a copy of This is the New Plan by John Xero, there’s still just enough time. Just pop yourself over to the contest details and enter.

Wasps: The nightmare is upon us.

So, I think wasps are going to cause the apocalypse. Not even the kind with the weird parasite that turns them into zombies, just – regular wasps. It’s probably because I’m a wasp bigot – I hate them more than any living thing aside from mosquitos – but I think they’re more of a risk than zombies or asteroids or even fucking sentient badgers.
I say this because I am increasingly convinced we have a wasps nest in our house. Somewhere, in my home (i think in the chimney) these nasty, malevolent, alien-minded hive creatures have taken up residence. And GOD they’re awful. Monstrous, evil things armed with poison machine-guns, only kept in check by environmental pressures. They die in the cold, and that’s good.
If those environmental pressures are removed, I forsee a world over-run by wasps. A world where we hide in the few places left on eart that these vicious insects can’t get into. A world where the wasps rule us, not through intelligent evil but just through unthinking malice, because it’s their nature to breed and nest and sting. They will feast on the rotting produce of our fruit trees and nest in our homes, and we will eventually run out of poison to do the job of killing them.
Beware of the wasps, because they could drive us out of our lives without changing a single thing about themselves. We can’t reason with them or beat them, because all it needs is for one to survive. You kill the nest by killing the queen, but just one larvae needs to survive. They may even be intelligent – like ants their hive works like a brain – but if they are it’s a sort of intelligence we will never understand or comprehend. The nsture of an individual will be uncomprehedable to them. The concept of said individual having rights will be even more bizarre – after all, they sacrifice their own for the nest, and we don;t give a shit for our fallen skin cells.
Enough stings from wasps will kill even the hardiest of humans. people like me will die in a matter of half a dozen or a dozen. And what a painful way to go that will be.
Wasps. Motherfucking wasps.
Destroy them where you see them, because they could be our doom.
 
If you want to win a copy of This is the New Plan by John Xero, there’s still  enough time. Just pop yourself over to the contest details and enter.
 

This is the New Plan giveaway


Today the review for John Xero’s book, This is the New Plan, went up (link here). Well, I’m excited to say that John Xero has been generous enough to offer one of our readers a free copy of the book (in e-book form)!
John wrote 33 stories for this book. (Well, 33 that he included in the book. I’m sure the original short list had quite a bit more stories.) Now, it’s your turn to get creative.
To win a copy of This is the New Plan, you will need to write a short piece of fiction. Really short–it only has to be 250 words long (or less). But! Your 250-word piece of creative genius must include the following words: zombie, evil space monkey, diving board, tipi, the Rapture, seventeen, contagion, telepathy, egg, Chevy.
To enter the contest, post your story as a comment. If you have problems posting, email your story to char(@)incaseofsurvival(.)com (but remove the brackets) and I’ll post it for you.
How will the winner be decided? Well, when I stopped editing I decided I was going to stop being the Crusher of Dreams, so I’ll leave this up to a vote. That’s right, people, YOU get to decide the winner of the contest! On voting day, go to the voting day post and leave a comment with your vote for the winning story. (The voting day post will go up on–you guessed it–voting day. Which is Thursday, August 30.) (This paragraph has the words “voting” and “vote” FAR too many times.)
The contest will run until 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Wednesday, August 29. Voting will run from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Thursday, August 30. Any stories posted on Thursday will be immediately disqualified. Winner will be posted on Friday, August 31.
Got that? Good.
Now what are you waiting for? Get writing! And may the best story win!

 

This is the New Plan by John Xero

This the New Plan cover

This is the New Plan by John Xero (available now)

Review copy provided by the author. 

Amazon blurb:

This is the New Plan. Thirty three genre-blending works of fiction. Thirty one flash fictions book-ended by two short stories.

This is the way the world dies. The way it is born. The way it lives and breathes. Our world, other worlds. The past, the present, the never, the future.
Discover endings and beginnings; hope and damnation; angels and demons; stolen futures… Gods, cowboys, zombies, witches, sci-fi samurai, psychopaths, little red men from Mars, and more…
Let me take you on a journey, let me show you wonders.

You may remember John Xero’s brilliant short story, “Ragestorm Requiem,” which was featured here on ICoS last year. If you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy his new book, This is the New Plan (conveniently available now).

The book is a collection of John Xero’s short stories and flash fiction pieces–33 in all. Which is a few too many for me to review individually, unfortunately–which means, of course, that you’ll have to read the book. (Aw, shucks.)

There is a great variety of stories in the book, and a good chunk of them are post-apocalyptic in nature. All of the stories are well-written, and–in my opinion, anyway–work the way short fiction should: it makes you wonder what happens next, and lets you fill in the blanks.

I’d have to say that my favorite story is still “Ragestorm Requiem,” because it’s so poignant. Maybe it’s because I have kids, and I could empathize with the way the story’s main character does everything possible to let her daughter Molly “fly.” The fact that Molly is actually dead and in an urn makes the story all the more poignant. (While reading the story I kept thinking, “What would I do if the world went to hell and one or both of my daughters died?” And I could see exactly where the character was coming from.)

Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories in this book. I did–I enjoyed all of them. This one just stood out as my favorite.

Not every story is that sad/poignant/melancholy, of course; there are a lot of stories in the book. If poignant isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something in there that is.

This book is great if you’re looking for short reads–these stories are the right length for a bus or train ride, or if you’ve only got five minutes here and there and don’t have time for a  novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly enjoyed it–I don’t give out 5 out of 5 scores lightly, but I’m giving it to this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book link (Amazon)
Xeroverse (author’s blog)

Why minorities will survive the apocalypse

Young Fresh Multiracial Group - Peel and Stick Wall Decal by Wallmonkeys
Young Fresh Multiracial Group – Peel and Stick Wall Decal by Wallmonkeys… Why you want a multiracial group of strangers giving the thumbs up stuck on your wall is beyond me; but you can have it for $33.99.

In most popular media about the apocalypse minorities are pretty much Red Shirts— there because someone needs to die so it might as well be them. This was highlighted in a PinkRayGun article recapping the season finale of Falling Skies.
The Black Dude Dies First is a well trodden trope in almost all mediums, especially the post-apocalyptic genre. Terra Nova did it. The Walking Dead has championed the token minority trope— but at least they get to live. However these tropes don’t take into account the stereotypes and facts that would actually keep minorities alive in apocalyptic times.

Black people are fast and carry guns

Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We're Afraid To Talk About ItIf Black people are faster than the rest of the people then they’re the most likely to get away. It’s like that saying/cartoon/adage[1. To be honest, I don’t know where it came from. It’s just a thing people say.]: You don’t need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun the other person running from the bear. In this case, “Bear” would be “Zombie.”
Congrats, Black people, all you have to do is live up to the hype and you won’t be the minority for long. And if all else fails, just whip out your standard issue gun and slow some folks down like our favorite Deputy Dickbag [2. SPOILER – I’m talking about Shane from The Walking Dead.].

Asians are smart and have super-human muscle memory.

Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers--and How You Can Too
While I might be in a minority of people still watching America’s Next Best Dance Crew, I’m sure if someone else had been watching they’d notice the disproportionately high number of Asians (then blacks and then Hispanics). It’s similar to the disproportionately high number or Asians in the Math, Science, and Engineering schools on college campuses.
These people[3. Yes, I see what I did there.], if they have the aptitude they’re assumed to have, will be able to out survive their majority friends. They’ll build lifesaving tech, and bust out some mind-bending dance/fighting moves to confound the enemy then scurry away through a tiny air vent that the more privileged and more obese can’t fit it.

Hispanics are shifty and travel in uncountable numbers

Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a PeopleSurprise, Bitches! Little Jose isn’t alone.
As soon as the bandits get comfortable confronting him, sixteen dudes with chains and bats start creeping slowly from around corners. What the What?!
If Hispanics truly travel in deep, secretive numbers as it’s suggested they do, they’ve got the element to surprise built into their social culture.
We saw it on season one of The Walking Dead, there was one little boy. Then five(ish) dudes that he ran to for safety. Then a community of, like, 67 people running a co-op as though it wasn’t the apocalypse at all… Okay.

Minorities expect the worst

Passing for what you are not--whether it is mulattos passing as white, Jews passing as Christian, or drag queens passing as women--can be a method of protection or self-defense. But it can also be a uniquely pleasurable experience, one that trades on the erotics of secrecy and revelation. It is precisely passing's radical playfulness, the way it asks us to reconsider our assumptions and forces our most cherished fantasies of identity to self-destruct, that is centrally addressed in Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion.Being a minority doesn’t just mean you have super powers, it also means you’re persecuted on some other make-believe shit.   Sometimes that’s in the form of actively being hunted. Sometimes that’s verbal assaults. Often that physical violence. In Carriers (2009) there’s a scene where a bunch of redneck thugs in a pick-up truck string up an Asian man with a sign that reads: Chinks brought it.
This constant persecution and threat of violence has bread a more cautious mindset into many minority cultures. Not simply, the choice to “stick with your own kind,” but a self-preservation instinct that identifies others as not only actual, but also statistical enemenies.
By default, if you’re The Black Guy you expect to be the first to go down. The Hispanic Guy should expect to not be trusted and eventually turned on. And the Asian can expect to die second because no one will get his back.
From Nazis to the Ku Klux Klan to the Westbro Baptist Church, rightness and facts have never been the first choice for those who prey on minorities. And consistency has never really been the first choice of wrirters portraying minorities.
Maybe one day the apocalypse will come and and everyone will flood the local ghettos (because that’s where you find people of color) in a desperate attempt to recruit a few good minorities into their party. Or, maybe, one day we’ll realize minorities aren’t this amalgas concept of “people of color” as much as they’re just people. Not embodiments of concepts, standards of measurement, and especially not cannon fodder.

Osiris by E. J. Swift

“Nobody leaves Osiris. Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and world has lost her . . .”
Rising high above the frigid waters, the ocean city of Osiris has been cut off from the land since the Great Storm 50 years ago. Most believe that Osiris is the last city on Earth. Adelaide is the black-sheep granddaughter of the city’s Architect. A jaded socialite, she wants little to do with her powerful relatives — until her troubled twin brother disappears mysteriously. Vikram, a third-generation storm refugee, sees his own people dying of cold and starvation. He hopes to use Adelaide to bring about much-needed reforms — but who is using whom? As another brutal winter brings Osiris closer to riot and revolution, two very different people attempt to bridge the gap dividing the city, only to find a future far more complicated than either of them ever imagined.
Osiris [1. provided free by Night Shade Books] is a difficult book. It’s beautifully written, intricately plotted and has a well-imagined setting, but even with all those things, I’m not entirely sure that I enjoyed it.
Osiris is another slow starter, which I’m not opposed to in fantasy books, but it’s almost too slow. I kept finding myself excuses not to read it – not because it was bad, but because amidst the glorious prose and careful plotting, I felt a core of coldness, or lack. An emptyness. I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about Adelaide, I didn’t care about her brother, Axel, I didn’t care about Vikram or the uprising. I just didn’t care.
Which is not to say Osiris is a bad book. I cannot be more clear on this – it is, in fact, a very good book. There are a lot of things that I should have loved about it – decently written female MC! Prose that rises above the merely competent! Interesting and unique setting! Uprising and rebellions! I should have loved it. I should have been using this space to rave about it, to tell you to go spend your hard earned money on Osiris, I should have wanted a physical copy so I could read and re-read until the spine creased and the pages fell out. But I just didn’t.
I did manage to finish it, but it was because I requested the eARC myself and didn’t feel I could just stop. The ending is sufficiently satisfying and powerful – or it would be if I’d had a strong enough emotional connection to the book. It sets up nicely for future books in the series, as well, if that’s something that appeals to you.
This isn’t a great review – all I can do with a review is put across my own personal opinion, and in this case it’s quite simple. Osiris is a good book, but it left me cold.  I don’t think it’s the fault of the writer. It’s not you, E. J. Swift, it’s me.
[Rating:2.75/5]

Blisters.

By now you probably know that we like to talk about the odd stuff. The things that other survivalists ignore, or don’t think of, the weird concepts our strange little brains come up with in the bath or at the supermarket.
Yesterday, I thought about blisters.
 
Yes, blisters. The annoying, painful, fluid filled sacks you get when you have irritated, injured skin. You get them when you burn yourself or when your shoes rub. Wait, when your shoes rub? What are you going to be doing post-apocalypse? A hell of a lot of walking. Which means what? Your shoes will rub.
Blisters can make it hard to walk or run and slow you down. So, what to do?
First, prevention:
You should, by now, have a pair of apocalypse ready shoes or boots. They should not be brand new and unworn, because that’s jsut asking for blistery-type problems. In fact, you should be wearing them as much as possible for two reasons. You’re going to need to wear the boots in – and get yourself used to wearing them. By doing that, you reduce your chances of blisters.
Invest in some hiking socks. Soft, thick and supported, hiking socks can reduce your chances of developing blisters, and keep your feet warm if the world ends in winter. Whatever you do, don;t think you can go without socks, no matter the emergency. You’ll be crippled with blisters all over your feet within hours. Keep a pair in your boots, and the rest in your pack.
If you do develop blisters, DON’T BURST THEM. The fluid acts as protection for the injured skin underneath. Bursting them before their time will lead to more damage to your feet. However, walking with blisters (especially on the soles of your feet, ouch) can be painful, so invest in some of those special blister plasters with the gel – it forms a protective barrier and reduces pressure pain.
If you have no access to plasters and the like, having not done your research pre-apocalypse (I don’t know how you’re reading this. Perhaps you have some kind of magic smart-phone that can still access the internet? If so, hello! Please tell us what finally finished us off. Was it badgers? I bet it was badgers) you still shouldn’t pierce your blisters. Instead, keep an eye out for a book on natural remedies and herbalism (loot bookstores) and follow their advice. Honey is a good way to heal injuries – it’s mildly antiseptic and soothing – but it’s pretty sticky, so it’s probably best to apply it at night. Similarly, try to keep your feet clean. It may be tricky, but the last thing you want is an infection setting in. So loot yourself some cleasning wipes and use them when you camp at night. And I want to wish good luck to my hypothetical post-apocalypse survivors currently reading this. Maybe I’ll see you out there.
Blisters aren’t the only foot injury you can face from lots of walking – sometimes the friction bypasses the fluid-filled stage and goes straight to the ouch-i’m-bleeding stage. If you are bleeding from your feet, don’t panic. Blood always looks more dramatic than the injury actually is. Simply use some of your first aid supplies to cleanse and cover the wound and try to mentally bypass the pain. The next day will be the worst, but survival is more important than the ragged, bleeding mess that used to be your heel. A sufficiently padded wound covering will stop it getting worse, and will reduce pain and prevent infection.
And rest assured that after the first two weeks of constant walking, your feet will harden up. No more blisters for you, so if you can just make it through those first two weeks…

The Sacrifice Game by Brian D'Amato

the sacrifice game cover

The Sacrifice Game by Brian D’Amato

Release date: July 2012

Review copy provided by Penguin/Dutton

Amazon blurb:

The mind-bending, stunningly inventive sequel to Brian D’Amato’s In Courts of the Sun, in which one man holds the key to saving the world from the 2012 apocalypse foretold by the Mayan Prophecy.

In Brian D’Amato’s cult classic, In the Courts of the Sun, a team of scientists sent math prodigy and Mayan descendant Jed DeLanda back in time to the year AD 664 to learn the “Sacrifice Game,” a divination ritual that the ancient Maya used to predict the apocalypse on December 21, 2012. But after arriving in the body of a willing human sacrifice instead of a Mayan king, Jed’s experiences led him to the fateful decision that rather than avert the apocalypse, he must ensure instead that the world ends.

 Using his knowledge of the divination game, Jed sets in motion a series of events that will bring about the destruction of humanity, ending the world’s pain and suffering once and for all. But before the plan can be completed, the organization that sent him into the past discovers his intention and devotes every resource to stop him.
 Taking readers back to the dizzying action of ancient times, The Sacrifice Game is a breathtaking odyssey in which Jed must survive bloody wars, ruthless leaders, shifting alliances, and unspeakable betrayal to learn about the Game, before his time in both the ancient Mayan empire and the present day runs out.

All right. So. To avoid a possible drama-filled timesink like what happened with this book review, I’m just gonna come right out and say it: this book was a DNF for me. And this makes me sad, because I seem to be the only person on the planet who couldn’t get through it.
Continue reading “The Sacrifice Game by Brian D'Amato”