Wednesday, August 21, 2013

more top twenty


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.

END

17 comments:

  1. Mr. Dakin:
    My first time here, in a marathon session I read your posts. I need your advise, since you went thru soooo much.
    I recently got divorce and I was taken to the cleaners, Got permanent disability and very few extra money to spend in either an apartment or a trip to another country where the money can give some sort of shelter.
    what can I possibly do?
    Job situation for disable people is nil and the monies coming in don't take me far enough in this big city. minimum rent are 800.00 and climbing. that's it. my entire disability monthly payment. have a few bucks from my severance pay but it will not last too far. I figure whiting a year will disappear.
    I'm even considering of getting rid of my loyal dog and that will hurt as much as my divorce.
    You been thru this. Can you offer me some advise or relate to me the experiences you have had?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. E-mail me. Then we can go back and forth in detail ( just beware I don't have access on the weekends ). jimd303@netzero.com

      Delete
    2. Whoops - my response to Anon below was meant to respond to the guy above that is asking for Bison's personal help.

      Delete
  2. Home Life in Colonial Days [Kindle Edition]
    is free. Also A Distant Eden [Kindle Edition]is free for anyone holding out.

    "supernatural powers magically rendering firearms and fuel non-functional" EGADS!!! Author should of used the peak oil/EOTWAWKI instead of magic. Been believable.

    I believe in luck but I sure don't believe in magic. (Unless it creates zombies...)

    Gil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buy "Eden" you silly twats. You will be glad you did ( if I ever upgrade my top twenty, it will be in there ).

      Delete
    2. Buy Lord Bison's book "the Frugal Survivalist". It has everything you need to know to be a survivalist on the cheap.

      I bought it a few years ago, read it, and thought that this guy was the cheapest bastard I'd ever encountered.

      After spending more money that was necessary in the last few years, I've returned to that book and now live my life by it.

      Delete
    3. I don't know if you realize what a compliment that was. Thanks!

      Delete
  3. Funny--it has been easy all these years to think that the great Neville Shute book, On The Beach, was archaic. But with nuclear possibilities back in the news...whether the middle east or Japan, everything is on the table now... maybe it always has been but
    not with such urgency. Have your potassium iodide tablets yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard people dis on the portrayal of radiation fallout in that book as unrealistic. But I guess you'd read it for the pyscological aspect.

      Delete
    2. On the Beach postulates that the nuclear war was conducted with cobalt-jacketed nuclear weapons. Cobalt has a half life of around 5 years, making it optimal for long term area denial as fallout. It is unlikely most weapons used would be cobalt jacketed. My gut says a few of the bombs Israel has reserved to honor Samson might be, but probably few if any others are.

      Delete
    3. Some books I just can't wait to NOT read. Sowers was one, Beach another. I watched both movies- a lot of running around being dramatic.

      Delete
  4. Lord Bison, I completely understand Lucifer's Hammer having such a rank, but I'm surprised Dies the Fire comes in at number two. There is just so much pussification in that novel. I thought for sure you would place Nova's works above Dies the Fire, or at least put H. Grant Llewellyn's work (In the Valley of Dying Stars + As Wind in Dry Grass) above Dies the Fire.

    I know it is likely that those works will be in your Top 20 list, but when it comes to the ranking,you have a very surprised minion on your hands.

    Oh - and btw, I liked your stab at fiction writing a while back. As I remember, you only wrote two chapters, but they were great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might be my own worst critic with fiction, but I still feel little compulsion to take it up again. As Wind is a better book, but still Militia Porn rather than Post-Apoc. DTF is a post-apoc world.

      Delete
  5. AAAHHHH!!!! I'm tempted to leave a scathing, scathering, scuttering review at Amazon on "Dies The Fire" and use your "nit-picking minor complaints" as ammo!!!! DTF SUCKS!!!! HA!!!!!!

    ...err, did I just use my outside voice?...

    HAIL, LORD JIM!!!

    signed,
    Groveling Gil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Outdoor voices are allowed here. How else to make ones point? [ I think you made your point :) ].

      Delete
  6. Your Bisonness,

    Regarding Dune - I read that book when it first came out. And then I read it again, several times in fact over the years.

    Such a creatively rich and complex weaving of worlds and the political schemes and schemers populating them, with it all centered around Dune.

    Each rereading brought out nuances that had escaped me in my previous journeys through the book. And each rereading was well worth the time I spent on it.

    And then I discovered Doon by Ellis Weiner.

    Oh Lord have mercy...

    As I sat in my favorite reading chair I was overcome by uncontrollable fits and spasms of laughter. My family was convinced that I'd finally lost my mind for real.

    Given my previous oh-so-serious immersion in the realms of Dune, this parody caught me completely off guard. Spot-on references to so much of Frank Herbert's book kept hitting me squarely in the funny bone. I couldn't stop reading or howling with laughter.

    By the time I had finally finished the book, my sides and gut were sore for days.

    But maybe I'm just weird.

    Try it, if you're a Dune fan, you may just like it.

    But maybe I'm just weird.

    Wait.... did I say that already?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to get a copy. I've read Dune several times, first when I was like 12. Never read the sequals, although I don't know why. I own then all, waiting for a long period of unemployment. I've even read Herbert's bio twice- a classic writers life. And you can't be weird. Weird is NO sense of humor.

      Delete