Stress: It'll kill ya.

Stress. Our bodies natural response to emotional experiences. Stress can be good or bad, but most people agree that when the bodies natural fight-or-flight response is prevented, it can cause some problems – including but not limited to: headaches, heart attacks, strokes, IBS, stomach ulcers and over-eating. It’s important to remember that the Human Being is still an animal – a clever, emotional, complex animal yes, but most of our responses are still rooted in the animal.
You’d think that post apocalypse this animal reaction to stress would be great, right? Fight or flight? You’re going to be doing that a lot, and surely the nasty sides of stress won’t be such an issue any more.
Well, read on, my minions. Read on.
The problem with that theory is that while we are still animals, we are also still thinking human beings. Stress and trauma can be longer lasting for us, for a start. Even if the horrific expereinces don’t seem to have made a mark on your friend yet, that’s no guarantee they won’t be curled up, catatonic, in the fetal position in the next hour, week, month, year or decade. Add our huge, complex brains to the post-apocalyptic stress equation, and you have some serious problems.
And obviously, those more immediate problems come to mind – such as the heart attacks and strokes – after all, if one of your top fighters suddenly conks out in training, you’ve lost a great resource as well as a much loved member of your team. But it’s the more subtle stress problems that could be tearing your group apart from the inside. Thing like:
 
Emotional instability: which could lead to infighting, irrational thinking and even murders or suicides
Lack of sleep: Which could lead to guard missing something vital
‘Foggy thinking’ : which could lead to injury or death of the suffererand any people relying on them.
 
So, what it there to do? After all, you’re going to be extrememly lucky to have a trained therapist in your team, and the other options to deal with stress (yoga, healthy diets, etc) are going to be seriously premium.
Well, I suggest violence. Allow the stressed people to BEAT things and drink too much. It worked for the middle ages – and it’s not as if they were a time period where whole continents were ripped apart by civil and religious war while battling city states slaughtered men, women, and children… oh.
 
Well, just do the best you can.
 

There won't be any video games.

So, my life is so utterly dull right now it’s untrue. I wake up, I study some, I look for a job, I write some fiction, I go to bed. Sometimes I go on a run (I am really excited for the release of Zombies Run! for android, because I’m pathetic) or do some weights. The rest of the time I play computer games. Mostly Skyrim. I’m so obsessed with this game I have the OST on my writing soundtrack. I nearly had an orgasm over the Dawnguard trailer.
 
So, it’s perhaps a little understandable that my Apocalypse Obsession is being quiet right now (though it’s still there. When studying Pugin and his role in the Gothic revival I was like ‘bloke designed defendable buildings, I’ll  give him that.’ I visited a Cathedral built in the Gothic Revival style, and while other people were praying to their god, I said to my husband ‘Barricade the doors and you have a pretty decent emergency shelter if you board up those big windows.’)
So, I wanna talk about some more things I’ll miss post apocalypse, I have to say that right now the thing  I’ll miss most is….
 
Video games.
GOD I LOVE THEM. SO MUCH.
I mean, I love reading more, but when I’m too tired or distracted or sad or whatever to read, a video game provides the required immersion and reality avoidance with minimal mental effort on my part. I get to feel real human emotions in a muted form about things that don’t matter, and most importantly I get to rack up a terrifying kill count without being arrested because the 1137 people I killed were just pixels.
It sounds like I’m dissing the medium, but I’m not. When I say I love them, I mean I actually love them. I am occasionally critical of bad games or the culture of racism and sexism within the industry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. They’re capable of telling real, emotionally affecting stories in a deeply immersivve medium, which is fucking great. Love em. Passionately and positively. I don’t bitch about it when a game isn’t what I want- I am just sad and quietly resolve to not buy the next one as soon as it comes out (Fable 3 I AM LOOKING AT YOU.) This is my hobby, I enjoy it, I generally feel positive about it. I have my favourite franchises like everyone, but I’ll give new stuff a try (By the Way, Enslaved is a shockingly underrated and undersold little game set post apocalypse. It’s pretty cheap these days so if you spot a copy, grab it), but I don’t get overly invested in games in the way I do books. A game has shocked me, often (Bioshock), made me sad in a sort of nice way (Fallout 3 and New Vegas, when coming across the remnants of life before the war) but I’ve never been the sort to cry over a computer game. Throw my controller, sure, but cry, or jump around in happiness? I save that for books. What games do for me is to take myself away from whatever else is happening in my world and make it better for a little bit. I can be an incredible person with magic powers instead of an unemployed 26 year old in rented accomodation.
Post apocalypse, they’ll be gone. Even if elecrtricity is still about, we won’t have enough of it to dedicate to my desperately important Skyrim schedule. And I will REALLY, REALLY CARE ABOUT THIS. Because while I love to read, there are going to be plenty of bookstores to loot, so I won’t run out of new books too soon (though I will kill myself if all that’s left is Dan Brown). And I love to tell stories, but I can do that with my mouth. Video games kinda require modern technology, and there won’t really be anything comparable around, any more. There’ll be nothing that can take me out of my shitty world in the way gaming can, nothing to make me feel amazing, nothing to take out a bad day on, just my unending, heart-crushing life.
 
God, I’ll be stuck with with table top roleplaying. And three of the people on my team are Rules Lawyers. KILL ME NOW.

You could win a survival shelter!

And all you’ll have to do is go on a reality show. Spike TV are teaming up with Vivos Shelters  (who are basically a real-life, modern Vault-Tec, hopefully without the creepy experiments) for a new survivalist reality show. If you and your family are preparing for any kind of global disaster, and have always wanted a shelter of your very own, this is an excellent opportunity for you.
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What Wales taught me about the post apocalypse.

 
So, I was camping in Wales.[1. Details of where we stayed for those who want to follow in our footsteps: We went to The Brecon Beacons, a national park of astounding natural beauty. We stayed in two campsites, both of which I strongly recommend – Priory Mill Farm, just outside the town of Brecon, and Ynysfaen a mile and a half outside of Trecastle] It wasn’t a survivalism retreat and to my mind it was far from roughing it. Experienced survivalists would sneer at it and pampered hotel-dwellers would shudder. But you’d better believe it taught me a few things about my survivability rate post-apocalypse… both good and bad. It also taught me about how unpleasant a panic attack is when you’re having it in a field surrounded by woodland, water and no other people, but that’s an entirely different post for an entirely different blog.
First, the bad. Read on after the cut.
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Book Review: Starters, By Lissa Price

[1. Review copy provided by Random House Childrens Books]
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson.
It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
Starters is a great YA. The story is complex (though not too complex) the characters believable and likeable, and the dystopia shown in the work is disturbing.
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Book Review: The Last Night, by Nico Rosso

[1. Review copy provided by Carina Press]
After a chain of earthquakes ravaged the globe, long-dormant viruses were released into the air, turning many humans into creatures with an appetite for human ashes. Erica and a group of survivors are barricaded in a half-destroyed hotel, and every day brings them closer to being devoured by the seemingly unstoppable ashers. Even though Erica is a fighter, she’s tired of just surviving…
When a mysterious stranger rides into town, everything changes. Jake knows how to kill the ashers, and he’s the only man brave enough to leave the safety of the hotel in search of a better life. Erica and Jake make a deadly fighting team, with even hotter sparks flying between them. But Jake has survived this long because he rides alone. He doesn’t trust easily, especially in this harsh new reality. Can Erica convince Jake that living is more than just surviving to the next day?
I’ve tried to write post-apocalyptic erotic romance before. Despite the fact this is the second in the genre I’ve reviewed, there’s a huge gap there. I’d personally like to read more of it, and because I believe in writing what I’d like to read, I made the attempt.
I wasn’t very good at it. It turns out, I am not good at writing desire and sex. I am extraordinarily good at writing people having awkward romantic feelings for each other that sort-of maybe get kinda fulfilled towards the end, but I cannot write erotica. Because of that, I am always pleased to read the good stuff.
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The Zombie Apocalypse is COMING NOW.

At least if reports coming in from Africa are to be believed.
The ‘Nodding Disease’ is a virulent condition affecting African children in Uganda. The symptoms include seizure, bizarre personality changes, mental degradation, and, in a so-far unconfirmed report, irrational violence in a small number of victims. The CNN report actually refers to the victims as ‘zombies’
According to reports, one mother of infected children has to tie them up whenever she leaves the house, or they wander around and ‘set fires’ randomly with no seeming reason. The children cannot be reasoned with, and will attempt to gnaw through their restraints.
Infected children are doomed to a slow, mental degradation, leading to loss of speech, partial paralysis, personality changes and the supposed violence.
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Fiction Review: Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox

Bitter Harvest By Kim Knox [1. Provided for review by Carina Press]
It’s 2050, and humans are an endangered species. Lieutenant Robert Sutton has survived the collapse of civilization by luck, his wits, and a chance mutation that makes him immune to the nano-virus that has wiped out millions. Now, his compound of survivors is surrounded by the infected, who are driven by the need to spread the contagion through sex. It is only a matter of time before they attack. So when Sutton is assigned to interrogate a prisoner who claims to have overcome the infection, he immediately suspects a trap…
Nicholas Rider may have survived the virus, but he’s a changed man, ruled by his desires. But his need for Sutton is different. Rider craves an end to his overwhelming needs, and Sutton could be the man to do it.
Secure in his belief that he’s invulnerable, Sutton can’t understand or resist his intense attraction to his prisoner. Will Rider be his downfall-or his savior?
 
As if you couldn’t tell by the cover and description, this is post-apocalyptic erotica, featuring gay sex. As a result, the review will cover these things. NSFW.
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Ruin is a thing of Post-Apocalyptic beauty.

Ruin is a short film – around 9 minutes – by Oddball Animation. A simple story set in a post apocalyptic world.
And it is BEAUTIFUL. Stunningly animated with wonderful music.
Seriously. Look.
 

Ruin
Wasn’t that lovely? That is how I like my post-apocalyptic worlds. Overgrown, crumbling and filled with remnants of old tech. Someone needs to give Oddball Animation a boatload of money to make a feature length thing. I would watch it, and so would you.

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

[1.Provided for review by Open Road]
Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World-Ira Levin’s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.
The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night.
With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin’s most haunting novels.
Grade: DNF
The trouble with classics and parents of a genre is that they often use tropes that are very common to the modern reader, or tropes that are outright nauseating due to values dissonance. Even if these things were acceptable and new when the book was written, a modern audience may struggle.
I struggled with this book. It’s not that I’m a girl with no love for the classics and no ability to look beyond the demands or the era in which a book was written- I’m probably one of the few people who reads classic literature for fun.
I just… really stuggled with this one.
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