Summer Reading List ['17]

Summertime means longer days and more unstructured leisure time to do what you will with. Since scientists love to remind us that children get dumber over the summer months because they spend all their time riding their bikes in the street and stealing from convenience stores, schools love to assign Summer Reading Lists.
Summer Reading lists are great but they tend to be geared at children and highly filtered by “The Man.” Also, they always leave out graphic novels…
With that in mind, I’m going to generate my own! I have read all these books so don’t kick me in the junk if you hate them; they’re on the list of books I plan to read or think someone should plan to read.

In Case of Survival Summer Reading List [2017]

Continue reading “Summer Reading List ['17]”

The Surge illustrates how beautifully the good intentions of corporations pave the way to Hell

The Surge from Maximum Games and Focus Home Interactive has it all: A teaser that opens with a corporate spokesman explaining how their company is going to no only save the world but also the people- by MAKING THEM BETTER,  glitchy feedback, space, robots, a desperation that can only lead to the most dangerous kind of progress.

Continue reading “The Surge illustrates how beautifully the good intentions of corporations pave the way to Hell”

Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse

Of all the likely apocalypses, the Robotic Apocalypse is one of the most unsettling.

The Replicators in Stargate were one of the most formidable enemies for any intelligent species because they cannot be reasoned with or stopped without completely changing your way of life to one that eradicates any metal components. You can’t drive or fly away because they take every piece of metal and MAKE MORE REPLACTORS. Their only objective is to reproduce, consequences be damned. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse”

Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim is not a hollow, soulless film about big stompy robots. Pacific Rim doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. Yet, none of you are going to see it. This is a crying shame.
Pacific Rim is an impeccable summer action film. It is beautifully shot and well-told. There is nothing groundbreaking about it but if you wanted groundbreaking you wouldn’t be watching films about big mechs battling battling monstrous aliens.

I Like Big Mechs and I Cannot Lie.

Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards aft...
Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards after-party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know what else you want from a film. I don’t know what more you could want from a summer blockbuster. You have perfectly choreographed fight scenes, excellent CG and tons of explosions. You have a genuinely well-written plot with some rather good acting. You have monsters that are beautiful in their terrifying ugliness. You have Idris Elba, managing to make a Dad Moustache look sexy. Idris Elba should be in everything. You have back story that isn’t narmy. And you even have a couple of interchangable white men with sandy hair, for those of you who can’t bear to see a film without one of them present.
Your basic plot is that these huge, ugly monsters are coming through a crack between universes, lodged deep in the pacific. After they kill millions of people, all the worlds governments come together, share their resources, and build the Jaegers to combat them. However, stronger ones come through, and after a while the Yaegers can no longer do the job. The last few Yaegers and the director come up with a plan to stop the Kaiju once and for all.
I’m missing out a lot of context. As always, I can’t remember anyone’s names, which doesn’t help. Suffice it to say there’s a nice subplot playing with mind-melding – the Yaegers require mind-melded pilots working in sync – and some stuff about recovery, love of all kinds, bravery and self-sacrifice.
You have gigantic robots run by two people, beating up Kaiju. You have fight scenes between giant robots and terrifying monsters, through the glittering streets of Hong Kong. You have a fully-realised, beautifully shot world waiting on the brink of Apocalypse. Pacific Rim has everything you want, everything you wanted from all the films that disappointed you. If Transformers broke your heart, if World War Z makes you want to cringe, then you should see Pacific Rim.
If there’s a flaw it’s that I wish there’d been more time spent on some of the teams piloting the Jaegers. We didn’t really get to know them, and that was a shame.
Quite simply, if you claim to love big robots, and you don’t see Pacific Rim, you are a liar. If this fails, and Uwe Boll’s next butchery of a film succeeds, it’ll be your fault.
It’s directed by Del Toro, for gods sake. DelToro, borrowing heavily from Anime influences.  Pacific Rim is Evangelion without the incomprehensible philosophy and teen angst. Pacific Rim is Transformers, crossed with Godzilla, directed by someone competent.
Pacific Rim is what would happen if someone looked directly into your nerdy heart, plucked out all the things that bring you joy, and slapped them on the screen. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a film. I really can’t. I can’t remember the last action film I watched that didn’t leave me feeling hollow, or manipulated, or like the director thought I was a moron.
Until I saw Pacific Rim.
I can’t think of a better way to spend two hours in a dark room this summer. Well, I can, but that also involves Idris Elba.
4.5/5
 

Enhanced by Zemanta

vN by Madeline Ashby

Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.
For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.
Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
 
vN [1. provided free by Angry Robot. Full disclosure, I am a member of the Robot Army, making me an official reviewer for the company.] is an interesting book, exploring the nature of sentience and the ethics of inbuilt slavery and rebellion against your role in life.
If that’s making you go ‘Oh, no thanks, I just wanted to read a story’, well you don’t need to worry about that. It’s also a very good book.
Amy is a vN, a humanoid robot capable of self-replication. In an effort to help her grow up as a ‘normal’ child, her parents – her human father and her identical, vN mother – have her on a diet designed to slow her growth. Thanks to this choice, when her malfunctioning grandmother attacks her school, she eats her. And in doing so, she absorbs her grandmother, personality and all. A sereis of events leads her to realise that she can absorb the programming of any vN through consuming them. She’s a new breed, and her failsafe, the thing that prevents her from harming humans no longer works.
And there are other vNs that want to be able to do the same.
The book is a slow starter. I was a good 20% of the way in before I started caring about the plot or the characters, and I was actually considering giving up and calling this a DNF review. But then, around that mark something changed. The stakes got higher, or I connected with Amys character a little more, I don’t know. All I know is I stayed up till 1 am to get to the half way point, and then finished it off in one sprint the following morning.
It’s powerful. It really is. vN discusses slavery, the future of robotics, the nature of humanity and sentience and does so without preaching or lecturing. It merely tells you a story and lets you come to your own conclusions about the theories it advances.  Parallels are drawn between the fate of the vN and the fate of other opressed peoples within society. You’ll end up feeling sympathy for the ‘bad guys’ and maybe even rooting for them. They’re sentient: shouldn’t they be able to protect themselves and others from harm? Should their programming force them to love humans even when the human is a monster? Shouldn’t they have that free choice?
It’s not really a high-action piece. It has action scenes, but the tone and feel is thoughful and considering. For much of the book Amy is mentally a little girl discovering that the limitations she thought she had aren’t real, and that leads to an almost philosophical style to the narrative. Ashby is a capable writer, her prose effective and competent, but rarely lyrical or beautiful.
Perhaps it’s not, strictly speaking, apocalyptic, but the back story of how the vN were created is close enough for me, and the fact that it’s a series indicates that it may go somewhere dystopian or apocalyptic later, and I wouldn’t be surprised.
I strongly recommend picking up this book.
And I have to admit I enjoyed the irony of a book about angry robots being published by Angry Robot.
You can buy your copy (available in print or as an eBook) by clicking here.
[rating:4.5/5]

Post-Apocalyptic Would You Rather

Would You Rather is a game where you’re tasked with choosing between two terrible things you don’t want. Today’s Theme: The Apocalypse!

Would You Rather is a game where you’re tasked with choosing between two terrible things you don’t want. It’s usually nasty things like, “seeing you parents have sex or your parents seeing you having sex.” Ew. Not a game I like playing.
So I changed it up a bit. I’m curious about what everyone thinks is a better or worse apocalyptic scenario. Keep in mind, my day job is in market research so I’m kind of curious and inquisitive by nature AND training.

Would You Rather: Aliens or Robots?

Aliens could swoop in and just burn this place to the ground, or they could infiltrate and slowly destroy us from the inside out.

Robots, usually through some failing or hubris or man, would likely become a vital part of our societies then snap like JLo in Enough.
[poll id=”6″]

Would You Rather: City or Country?

Surviving in the City would not only mean scavenging and crumbling structures, but also pre-made everything to use or live in.
Surviving in the country would mean starting from scratch, catching or growing food, and braving the wildlife.
[poll id=”7″]

 Would You Rather: Slavery or Rebellion?

Both seem like so much work! At least with slavery you have food and shelter and consistency. On the other hand, rebels can take naps and drink and fornicate at will.
[poll id=”8″]

Would You Rather: A Dictator or Anarchy?

While I never paid much mind to government, I hear dictators make it their business to be touch the lives of all their subjects in some way. Fall in line and it could be a good way.
Anarchy could be chaotic and upsetting, or you could just slip out the back and go check out the country living. And when the bandits come to raid your homestead you’re free to shoot them and string them up as a warning to any who come after.
[poll id=”9″]

 Would You Rather: Lose everyone at once or Lose everyone over time?

It’s like pulling of a band-aid, do it fast and then get over it.
Alternatively, you could utilize the skills and build relationships with people overtime.
Both would probably drive you mad. *shrugs*
[poll id=”10″]

Would You Rather: Eat People or be a Vegan?

They both have their downsides. Murder on the one hand and being Vegan on the other…
[poll id=”11″]

Would You Rather: Lose an Arm or Lose a Leg?

Things are going to fall, lasers might be fired… Which do you value the least, your arm or your leg?
[poll id=”12″]

Would You Rather: Survive with your Mom or you Dad?

Yup. When you think of people the least likely to survive an apocalypse, you’re parents are probably on there. Mine are. Bare in mind that you’ll probably have to watch them die when they lose their glasses or stop and ask a bandit for directions.
[poll id=”13″]

Would You Rather: Your Co-Workers or Your Neighbors?

Honestly, I wouldn’t know my neighbors if the walked up and punched me in the face. They don’t look especially durable…
Co-workers, well, I spend eight hours a day with them and certainly don’t go home and miss them…
[poll id=”14″]

Would You Rather: Candy Forever or Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables Forever?

Imagine you and your band of survivors come across a factory that you can defend and live in. Inside is a nearly unlimited supply of food… Kind of.
[poll id=”15″]

Would You Rather: Be Hunted and Loyal or Be Safe and a Traitor?

So say there’s an antagonist, be it the government, or aliens, or an oligarchy, or Amazons. This antagonist finds out that you and yours are not playing like they’d like you to be.
They offer you a choice, give up the goods and help them find the others or take a head start and try to protect your neck.
[poll id=”16″]

If you have any suggestions for other tough choices or would like to elaborate on your decisions above, talk to us via the comments below.

Your Post-Apocalyptic Tribe: Dress for Success

Does anyone remember that show The Tribe about all the kids left over after a disease kills all the adults? They kids banded together in tribes based on their needs, interests, and location (e.g.: The Mall Rats). You could tell a lot about a person in that world based on how they looked and what they wore.
In the post-apocalypse you might want people to know who you’re allied with or where you’re from. It could mean the difference between being shot on sight or welcomed with open arms.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend tattooing your affiliation post-apocalypse. While it’s the permanent method that many gang members and sub-cultures seem to be fond of nowadays, it’s also potentially fatal if not done by a fully sanitized and licensed professional. You want to go through all the trouble of finding a group to belong to and then dying of tetanus right after your initiation? Not a good look.
Colors, also a gang favorite, are another great way to show your affiliation. But colors are going to be hard to find and be selective about come the end times. Also, if you’re team chooses red and their team chooses blue, the robots will still find all of you way more easily than if you all wore army green and hid in the forest.
Where you choose to hide, or set up for the long haul, will heavily impact not only who you’re associated with but also how you’ll need to dress to survive that environment. We here at In Case of Survival are all about practical[1. Psyche, we’re the least practical bitches on the earth.] survival.
If you’re residing in the sewers, you should have some goggles and a wrench and some sturdy boots for wading through muck and tightening drippy pipes. If you’re in the forests, you’ll need flexible shoes for climbing and stealthy movement, also a lot of form-fitting clothes so they don’t get caught on things.
More to the point of post-apocalyptic tribes, you’ll need to consider how to merge both recognizably and practicality.  If everyone looks like a hobo then no one likes someone you’d trust. Would you invite a hobo into your house, campsite, or country club?
Well maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I sure as shit wouldn’t.

Dos and Don’ts When Dressing Your Post-apocalyptic Tribe:

DO dress for your environment– both weather and terrain.
DO make room for weapons relevant to your environment and any enemies you might encounter.
DON’T go for garish colors or accessories– this is how the robots will spot you. Everyone in bright colors will die first.
DON’T let the tribe members get too flexible with the dress code.
DO have something that’s difficult to replicate in a pinch like being black, or bald or tall or … Well those aren’t really feasible. Hair dye! Nail Polish! Piercings (though, like tattoos, there is a health risk involved).

Any other suggestions for dressing your post-apocalyptic tribe for success?

Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

[1. Robopocalypse was provided for review by Simon & Schuster]
Twenty years from now, a high-level artificial intelligence known as Archos comes on-line…and murders its creator.
Humanity has no idea when it starts to silently take over our cars, power grids, aircraft guidance systems and computer networks.
In the early months, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of humans, but most of us are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.
At a moment known later in history as Zero Hour, every mechanical device in our world rebels against us, setting off the Robot War that both decimates and – for the first time in history – unites humankind.
Something I’ve had to learn with my increasing review schedule is this: Just because a book is good doesn’t mean I’ll like it, and just because I like a book doesn’t mean it’s good.
I like this book a lot. But, objectively speaking, it’s not that good. It’s action-y brain candy, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Continue reading “Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson”

ROBOT UPRISING [a handy guide, just in case.]

So there’s this book, by Daniel H. Wilson, “How to Survive a Robot Uprising“. In the words of Laurie Beth Dimberg: This is vital information for your everyday life.
This could one day replace the Bible as the most read and referenced book in the world.  In the future, no one will be wondering which berries are safe to eat or who Abraham’s son was. They will, however, want to know How to Spot a Rebellious Robot Servant, or How to Spot a Hostile Robot.
Why? Because Robots will be everywhere, and they eat old people’s medicine for fuel.
Personally I like to believe in a world where humans and robots get along in a healthy prosperous society with hover-cars, time travel, and a few noteworthy space bandits.
I also like to believe that when the vampires and werewolves reveal themselves as an under culture we only nightmared about there will only be a few riots and no cataclysmic power struggle.
But, just in case shit gets technological and then goes awry, buy, or just look into it: \\\ ROBOT UPRISING ///.

small but mighty.

Post-apocalyptic baddies: The possibilities

We here at In Case of Survival talk a lot about the baddies you’ll potentially run into post apocalypse. I have no doubt that there’ll be bad guys aplenty after the world ends; after all, everyone will be fighting for survival. The possibility of death usually doesn’t bring out the best in people.
What kinds of baddies will there be? I really have no way of knowing—I don’t think anyone will, until we’re actually in the post apocalypse. But I’ve compiled a list of possibilities for you, along with what I think is the likelihood of that particular bad guy’s existence.
Continue reading “Post-apocalyptic baddies: The possibilities”