MORE TOP TWENTY
Some days I shine through brightly with a subject matter so profound and wise all minions gasp in astonishment, fall to their knees mumbling about definitely without a doubt NOT being worthy and shield their eyes in humbleness. Other days, like today, I’m close to brain dead and don’t have much to say. But, I must persevere or I’ll just get fat and lazy and give up and you’ll never hear from me again. In that spirit, I present- Words To Pictures! For the longest time my Top Twenty List Of Bestest Post-Apocalypse Fiction Of All Time was just a line of graphic ads for each book. I’ve pretty much covered every book here and there, throw away comments I’ve sprung on you unsuspecting, but I’ve never organized them in one place. Now, obviously, I can’t go find them all. But I can work on doing it all over again. So from time to time I’ll take one book at a time and write about it in length from one sentence to multiple pages, as it pleases me, and then post it to my page of Top Twenty and before you know it it shall be a page all adore and revisit and recommend to all their friends and then I’ll become rich and famous and then the world will end before I can spend any of my money or meet neurotic Hollywood bitches that rub their augmented busts in my face and tell me what a stud I am.
First on the list is “Lucifer’s Hammer”. I really can’t see this book ever, ever never being dethroned as the best post apocalypse book of all time. I just can’t. Sorry. I’ve talked about this book many times. Yes, it was my cherry buster, my first encounter with post-apocalypse. The reason I was open to other books on the non-fiction side of the aisle. It started it all. If it wasn’t for Lucifer’s Hammer, none of you would ever have heard of me or been allowed to bask in my greatness. All Hail This Book for all it started! But nostalgia isn’t the only reason I love this book above all others. It is also one of the best of the genre ever written. Contrary to 90% of the post-apocalypse books out there, research alone does NOT make a good story. We aren’t talking about Rocket Science here. The collapse of civilization isn’t all that difficult to figure out. It is just subtracting things from present and figuring out the consequences. Oh, sure, some things can trip you up. Like if you don’t factor in spent nuclear fuel rods melting down following a lack of electrically circulated coolant. It doesn’t matter if we avoid a nuclear war if you have power plants upwind. But all in all, this stuff is pretty straight forward. What is really nice for the reader is when the story both makes sense AND is well written ( and, yes, you are all very welcome. I’m doing you all a favor by NOT seriously pursuing fiction writing. I just seem to lack something in making the best idea into a half assed good story ).
I think the reason Lucifer’s Hammer is so good, why it is better than any other post-apoc novel EVER is that it was written by well skilled science fiction writers of a niche genre, world building. You can write good sci-fi without this skill. Plenty have done so. Some are heads and shoulders above all others ( Frank Herbert of “Dune” comes to mind ). When you build a new world from scratch, and do it well, the story that follows is much more believable because it convinces you that you are in a new reality. You are allowed to suspend disbelief convincingly. And this seems to be what almost all post-apocalyptic writers lack. Their ability to construct a new world. They merely take away some elements of our world, and most can’t even do that very well. They try to drag pieces of a puzzle that don’t belong, pounding a square peg into a round hole ( this used to be a joke in the military, funny because it has to be true. How do they test for officers? The guy that forces a round peg into a square hole at the aptitude testing is made an officer ). They can’t conceive of a world without unlimited petroleum and industry, so they invent never ending sources. You get the idea.
“Dies The Fire” is number two on the list. Yes, I listed it above a lot of other very fine books. And it seemingly violates what made Lucifer’s Hammer so good. This was definitely a round peg into a square hole story, with supernatural powers magically rendering firearms and fuel non-functional. The reason Stirling is allowed to get away with it is that once you get past this, the universe is almost as well done as in LH. This is the second best post-apocalypse world yet invented. Oh, you could nit-pick on the Celtic Druid tree worshiping or the much-too fast transition back to too close a carbon copy of medieval times, but they are minor complaints. And the author even dulls some of the items that made his other works so much harder to swallow like the unrealistic female physical feats on the battlefield ( you still see that here, but they are less over the top ). And the no-firearms rule even helps camouflage his seeming hatred for guns some of his other works hint at. The ultimate vote for a book on this list is multiple readings. The more I’m drawn back, the more often I want to re-read a book determines how great it is. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read LH ( and I don’t often re-read fiction, so this is a serious barometer ), and I’m on #3 or four with “dies”. So obviously the faults are very minor.
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