DON’T GET OUT OF THE CAR! DID YOU HEAR ME? STAY IN THE CAR! – Marilyn Armstrong

 

Unless you are living on a different planet, you have probably watched a lot of cop shows. Whether they are still in their first season, early reruns, 200th rerun. You can watch them 24-hours a day 7-days-a-week. At one point, I was a  “Law and Order” addict. I needed frequent fixes. I discovered that any time, day or night, there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing somewhere. You just have to look for it.

As it is, Garry and I watch a lot of cop show reruns and we can recite the dialogue in most reruns of NCIS. It’s not the only stuff we watch, but it is a major component.

If you watch enough of them, eventually you don’t even need to know the plot: you know who the perp is the moment he or she shows up on your screen. Garry knows that the most well-known featured actor is the killer. That’s why they hired him or her.

I often wonder if these shows are really a single script, written by someone long ago, then periodically altered slightly as needed for various episodes of different series.

Our absolutely favorite moment in all of such shows is when one of the cops has someone in the car who isn’t a police officer or other official investigator. Maybe it’s a child or relative of one of the officers (aka, stars) … perhaps a friend, a former cop now retired, journalist, or another person who by chance (and script) happens to be there when the star or co-star is called to the scene of a crime.

What does he or she say to their ride-along person? They say it (or one of its close variations) every time.


“STAY IN THE CAR!”


It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes with alarming frequency. On the NBC TV series “Chuck,”  it was a gag line. On most shows, it’s real dialogue and not supposed to be a laugh line … but it is. At least in this house.

One of my favorite versions can be found in the  “Last Action Hero” (1993):


01:08:06 – Stay in the car.
01:08:07 – No way. I’m coming with you.
01:08:11 –  How many times have you heard someone say, “Stay in the car” and the guy doesn’t?
01:08:19 – Good point. I’ll stay in the car.

Subzin.com says the exact phrase “stay in the car” can be been found in 356 phrases from 296 movies. I think they are missing a few thousand instances in a wide variety of TV series. Also, they are not counting variations like “don’t leave the car,” “don’t get out of the car,” and “remain in the car.”  If you include the more generic “stay here” Subzin finds 20,781 phrases from 11,645 movies and series which is a lot of instances even if you say it quickly.

Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gunfight, crime scene, being stalked by a serial killer, or the Zombie Apocalypse where the undead are gathering for the final attack: no one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra (destined to not survive past the opening credits), no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car.

In real life, as we stumble through our lives, we get a lot of hints from The Universe that maybe this time, we should stay in the car. Don’t get involved. Let other people take care of this particular problem. Let the cops do what they are paid to do. Someone else can catch the bad guy, report the fire, deal with the crisis.

Who stays in the car and who gets out?

I never stay in the car. I might miss something. I’m sure there are others who actually do as they are told being mindful of authority. Unlike me.

They want to be safe. They believe if they follow the rules nothing bad can happen. Except life doesn’t follow a script. We lack scriptwriters. I often feel that presents us with some serious challenges because we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if we will survive in OR out of the car. I mean, we could get shot through the car window, too. Staying in the car may not be the best choice.

Besides, you don’t learn anything exciting by staying in the car. If you never venture out of your comfort zone, when life gets crazy, you’re going to have a rough time in this insane world.

For all the times I’ve been told to stay in the car then promptly jumped into the fray, against all logic and common sense, I’m glad I did it. Even with all the bumps and bruises, life is too short to miss something exciting. Who knows if there will be a car in which to stay when I need to hide?

When life gets exciting, I want to be part of the action. Usually.

SAFE FROM THE ZOMBIES! – Marilyn Armstrong

This is the anniversary of when I discovered this great piece of real estate. Is it still for sale? It’s still on the Internet, but as we all know, things stay permanently in cyberspace. Regardless, if you are (rightfully) concerned about the zombie apocalypse, this is the house for you!

Until I started using Facebook, I honestly never much worried about the zombie apocalypse. Naiveté? Maybe.

In my innocence, I worried about other things … the Republican Party taking over both houses of Congress (well, THAT happened) … lack of healthcare (working on that one) … polluting our environment (yup, already on-board) … cutting down the rain forests … extinction of many species.

You know, it’s possible we don’t need to wait for the zombies. The apocalypse is already here.

Eventually, Facebook entered my world. I soon realized I had been remiss. I wasn’t worried about the important stuff. What WOULD I do when the crazed zombies attacked?

When I saw this property for sale, I realized the solution was at hand. Suddenly, my mind was at peace. Because I care about all of you, I am passing along this important information. Maybe we could create a group and buy it, form a commune which would become a safe haven against the day of The Attack.

Who knows? Here’s a link for those of you with the foresight to know a great deal when you see one … plus juicy pictures to whet your appetite. I feel so much better now that I’ve shared this critical information and solved one of the big problems facing the world today.

It looks perfectly normal from above.

Media room

It’s when you start going down to lower levels that you realize you’ve come to the perfect safe house in the event of a zombie apocalypse. 

Aerial view

Aerial view

Just a beautiful house in the mountains … that’s all you see from the air. Near beautiful woods, lakes, and streams. Idyllic. You’ve got rooms for everything, even your own aircraft.

And it gets better the deeper you go. Literally.

BelowGroundZombie

Underground, you have a whole complete world. Check out the media room. Here, you can watch movies while remaining safe from flesh-eating, lurching zombies. Secure? Here’s secure!

Worry no more. We have your back if you have the check.

EvenlowerZombie

Heading down to anti-apocalyptic levels

Your personal runway

And a plane, too!

Provides a fine work environment!

And when the apocalypse arrives, here’s your entry to the safe levels

Sturdy door, very important

It used to be a missile silo, by the way

Plenty of room, including bathrooms

Plenty of room for expansion

Inside the missile silo is a 9-story structure, currently empty. Consider it would be perfect for underground condos. Bring your friends on board and recycle that air!

It used to be selling for a mere $1.7 million. If it hasn’t sold by now, maybe we could make a deal?

WHAT A SHOCK!

You think you know someone. You hang out with them. Exchange emails, jokes, anecdotes. Maybe you even work with them. One day, out of the blue, you discover they are fundamentalist Christians who think you are going to Hell. Or a hard-core right-wing Republican who voted for you-know-who. Maybe a conspiracy theorist or a proud believer in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

fobidden planet poster

I lived in Jerusalem for almost 9 years. It probably should not be a big surprise that you meet a lot of people who are sure they are Jesus Christ come back to finish His work on Earth. One of them worked at the local pizza joint and seemed perfectly normal, until in the middle of a casual conversation, he would drop a bomb about his mission and there you were, transported to wacko central.

I had a casual friend who was a piano player. He sang and played at fancy hotel lounges, like the Hilton Hotel lounge. He was, like me, an American. So it was inevitable we would meet. I did his horoscope for him because in those days, I did horoscopes for an awful lot of people.

We struck up a chatty little relationship. One night, he called and invited me over. He had something important to tell me.

Important? Our relationship consisted of reminiscing about life in the U.S. in the 1960s — and then, there was his horoscope. I was (coincidentally) the astrology columnist and managing editor of a short-lived English-language weekly. Please, let’s not discuss astrology or my psychic abilities (or lack thereof). You don’t want to know and I don’t want to tell you.

Having nothing better to do at the time, I walked over to his house (just around the corner) and we got to talking. Suddenly, I knew. He was going to tell me one of two things: he was an alien from on another planet … or … he was Jesus Christ.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-thingsIt turned out to be the latter. Yet one more Jesus. He wanted me, because of my brilliant psychic abilities, to be his Paul and spread the word. I told him his timing was off. I promised to advise him when the right moment arrived. Then I fled into the night and home.

He was one of several people who convinced me there was no future for me in the psychically predictive arts.

Then there was the guy I worked with at a high-tech company in Rhode Island.  One day he told me he was going to quit his job and move to an underground bunker in anticipation of the coming American apocalypse. I hadn’t even done his horoscope. Our relationship went rapidly downhill.

These surprises have made me wary of new friends who don’t come with references from other friends. I’m afraid of what might be revealed when we get to know each other better. The thing about people who believe in cabals — or that they were dropped from an alien space craft or will be leaving on one shortly — are that they are sure God has assigned them a mission and you cannot argue with them.

You can’t point out the incongruities and contradictions of their beliefs. They believe what they believe and that’s that. Facts are irrelevant. They ignore evidence. They know everything they need to know and given where they’re coming from, that’s probably enough. For them.

I haven’t personally met a real nutter lately, so I think I’ve got an opening in my tribe. Any applicants?

PREPARED FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Construct

This is a rerun, but I laugh every time I run it. This is THE construction we need to survive the end of the world — which I think is about to pop up any day now. This piece of real estate could solve all our problems. No zombies gonna make it into this “residence.”

WELCOME TO THE LAST SAFE PLACE ON EARTH!


The above-ground home is 2,000 square feet. But if you use the keypad entry to the basement, you’ll find 2,300 more square feet that were a former launch control center. It has been converted — with dining and entertainment space and two bedroom suites — complete with marble bathrooms. It has 10-foot tall ceilings, simulated daylight — and what we all need in our post-apocalyptic home — an open floor plan.

Another view of the house.

Aerial shot of the property.

Views from the property.

Your own personal runway.

Great media room!

Basement entrance. Good solid construction.

Inside the basement house. it’s a whole new world!

Comfy bathroom.

Stairway to the silo.

Tunnel to the silo. This could use a little work. Maybe some paneling?

Inside the missile silo is a 9-story structure, currently empty. Consider it would be perfect for underground condos. Bring your friends on board and recycle that air!

It used to be selling for a mere $1.7 million. If it hasn’t sold by now, maybe we could make a deal?

LIFE IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC SMALL TOWN

I always thought it would be zombies. Lurching dead people yearning to eat my brain, shambling around moaning. But it isn’t. Nope, it’s caterpillars. Gypsy moth caterpillars. Coming not to eat me (so far), but anything that’s green and growing. And doing a damned good job of it, too, I should add.

72-CATERPILLARS-GAR-060916_043B

They stripped the tall oaks in a day and a night. Without missing a beat, they cleaned off the birch trees, rhododendrons and got to work on the maples and firs. The pine trees will die. They can’t survive defoliation. I’m told by others that they are including any fruit trees they can get to, probably as a light dessert.

72-CATERPILLARS-GAR-060916_020

The ground is seething with caterpillars, the house crawling with them. It’s the end of life on earth? Probably not … unless they come again next year and then, it might be.

They are killing my fuchsia, eating the unconquerable day lilies. Are even the hosta safe?

Call it the apocalypse of the trees. If trees could talk to us, I’m sure they would agree.

72-oak-post-gypsy-moth-060816_01b

When they are finally gone, which will be in about a month, give or take a week or two, there will be a lot of rebuilding to do. Essentially, everyone will have to recreate their plantings, clear out the corpses, and come up with a plan.

2016. Remember this date. This is the year the gypsy moths beat the humans in a blowout game of epic proportions.

REBUILDING IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC SMALL TOWN

NOTE: As I was reading this, having just pressed “Publish,” I noticed a phalanx of the hairy bastards crawling up the side of the sofa accompanied by several big black ants. Are they building a united front?

I sprayed the hell out of everything and now, breathing is dicey. I just killed another ant crawling across my keyboard. Do we want to discuss “creeped out?”

I’m almost nostalgic about the good old days when ants and mice in season were the worst of the invaders.

FEAR THE MAGIC WIDGET

Our cable company changes their software frequently. They call these upgrades, though nothing improves. The equipment doesn’t work better. It isn’t easier to use. If there are new and useful features, no one tells you what they are or how to use them. You might discover them accidentally while trying to figure out how to do what you did before they removed the menu you previously used.

The newest feature is adjustable recording times. You can set them to before or after the times posted in the guide. It’s trendy for shows to begin and end at odd times, a few minutes earlier or later than on the hour or half hour. If you set up recordings using the default settings from the guide, the end or beginning of each show will be snipped. Annoying. Very.

TinkerizedRemotes

Why can’t developers make the software use actual start and end times? It couldn’t be that hard.

With shows starting and ending at random times, despite how they’re listed in the “guide,” being able to adjust them ought to help. It would if you could just set start and end time using regular time. Start recording at 8:01 PM. End at 9:03 PM. Simple, right?

Nope. Too easy. So you have to use “start earlier” — or — “start later” or “end early” — or — “run over.” We have no problem with clock time, but the “earlier” and “over” thing is fuzzy. We need numbers OR better yet, make the DVR’s internal computer deal with this so we don’t have to.

So. To record shows in a sequence when one airs right after another, is Kafkaesque. You must start with the final show in the sequence, then work forward, adjusting each show in turn so it does not overlap the next or previous or whatever.

Garry has been engaged in combat with the DVR for months. Yesterday, he got so frustrated he was ready to throw the remote against a wall. I wouldn’t let him quit. If you let a computerized device defeat you, news travels and all your widgets will take up arms against you. They will overthrow civilization as we know it.

Today, the DVR. Tomorrow, the world.

Nothing is safe. Snick, whir, beep. Chirp, buzz, click. Ding!  Can the Zombie Apocalypse be far behind?

Show no fear!

SHOCKING DISCOVERIES

You think you know someone. You hang out with them, exchange emails, jokes, and anecdotes. Maybe you even work with them. Then, one day, out of the blue, you discover they are fundamentalist Christians who believe you are going to Hell, a hard-core right-wing Republican. Conspiracy theorist. Believer in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

fobidden planet poster

I lived in Jerusalem for almost 9 years. Big surprise, you meet a lot of people who are sure they are Jesus Christ come back to finish his work on Earth. One of them worked at the local pizza joint and seemed perfectly normal, until in the middle of a casual conversation, he would drop a bomb about his mission and there you were, transported to wacko central.

I had a casual friend who was a piano player. He sang and played at fancy hotel lounges, like the Hilton Hotel lounge. He was, like me, an American, so it was inevitable we would meet. We struck up a little chatty relationship. One night, he called and invited me over. He had something important to tell me.

Important? Our relationship consisted of reminiscing about life in the U.S. in the 1960s — and I’d done his horoscope. I was (coincidentally) the astrology columnist and managing editor of a short-lived English-language weekly. Please, let’s not discuss astrology or my psychic abilities (or lack thereof). You don’t want to know and I don’t want to tell you.

Having nothing better to do at the time, I walked over to his house (just around the corner) and we got to talking. Suddenly, I knew. He was going to tell me one of two things: he was an alien and came from on another planet or galaxy … or … he was Jesus Christ.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-thingsIt was the latter. Another Jesus. He wanted me, because of my brilliant psychic abilities, to be Paul and spread the word. I worked very hard to tell him that his timing was off and I would be sure to advise him when the right moment arrived. Then I fled into the night and home. He was one of several people who convinced me there was no future for me in the psychically predictive arts.

Then there was the guy I worked with at one or another of the many high-tech companies at which I was employed who one day informed me of his intention to quit his job and move to an underground bunker in anticipation of the coming apocalypse. I hadn’t even done his horoscope.

Not surprisingly, a series of these unwelcome surprises has made more than slightly wary of prospective friends. I’m afraid of what will be revealed as we get to know each other better.

spaceThe thing about people who believe in cabals, believe they were dropped from an alien space craft (or will be leaving on one shortly), are certain that God has assigned them a mission … ?

You can’t argue with them.

You can’t point out the incongruities and contradictions of their beliefs. They believe what they believe and that’s that. There’s no point in offering facts. They will ignore all evidence that goes against their world-view.

These folks make me nervous. What happens when they (inevitably) decide I am one of their (many) enemies?

Old Gettysburg – Marilyn Armstrong

Horse and buggy. Easy to shoot. Horse doesn’t move much. Okay. Not at all.

When you think of Gettysburg, you probably think “battlefield.” Military history. Civil War.

I’ve never seen an actual “cigar store Indian.” Heard about them, but never seen one.

What does not likely come immediately to mind are “Ghosts” and “Ghouls.” However unlikely, that seems to be the most prominent theme of this historic town and its battlegrounds.

Old soldiers never die?

The shops are full of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies representing the dead soldiers. And, of course, there are tee shirts. Many varieties of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies, dressed in both Confederate and Union uniforms. Some, with no uniforms.

A zombie of Gettysburg.

This is tourist central, but it’s charming and quaint and everything is nicely clumped together in a small area. Even for me, it’s not too much walking. That the temperature has dropped quite a bit helps too.

Tunnel on the path.

You can get a tee-shirt with the entire Gettysburg Address on it, with or without Abraham Lincoln. You can get a wide variety of  Confederate, Union, or combination tee-shirts. Guns and knives vie with children’s toys as souvenirs.

Tee shirts … whatever you want, bet they have it.

The honored dead did not die in vain. They died so we could have cool tee shirts.

The Blue and Grey Tee Shirt Emporium.

ARE YOU READY FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

It has been two years since I discovered this fabulous piece of real estate. It’s still on the internet, but is it actually for sale today? No way to know, but no matter. I bet if you make the right good faith offer, you could snag this ideal piece of real estate for your anti-zombie compound.

– – –

Until I a couple of year ago, I never much worried about the zombie apocalypse. Was I merely naïve? Probably. After following a variety of blogs, not to mention social media sites, I have come to realize I’ve been failing to pay proper attention to this threat.

zombie-walking (1)

In my innocence, I worried about health care, the environment, extinction of species, loss of water resources and the fate of the Monarch butterfly. I spent far too much time trying to survive cancer and trying to keep a roof over my head. Someone somewhere said you can only worry about seven things at a time. If you add one more, one of the first seven disappears, drops off the list. It’s possible I didn’t have enough room in my brain to worry about zombies and thus failed to see the dangers of the looming Apocalypse.

That failure has been rectified. I dedicate an appropriate amount of mental energy towards planning against the attack of the brain-eating undead. Don’t ask me how much time that is. I won’t tell you.

As soon as I saw this property, I knew it was the solution. I can’t afford it on my own (I can’t afford anything at all) but I’m sure if we get together — maybe collect all the money Nigerian princes have been offering us — we could easily buy it. It would be the perfect safe haven. No zombies will eat our brains! 

It looks perfectly normal from above.

A second view of the house and it’s sub levels.

It’s when you start going down to lower levels that you realize what a peach of a property this really is — although it’s actually a gorgeous location, even if the zombies never attack.

Aerial view

Aerial view

A beautiful house in the Adirondacks is all you see from the air. Woods, lakes and streams, it’s downright idyllic. It’s got everything including a runway and hangar for private aircraft.

It gets better as you descend.

BelowGroundZombie

Underground, it’s a world of its own. How about that media room, eh? I’ve always wanted a room dedicated to electronic media. And maybe movies. Music, too. So maybe a little fixing up to make it perfect. It’s doable.

Really great media room!

Want to be safe? Secure? This is secure!

And, just in case the apocalypse never occurs, you’ve got a lovely estate not far from Saratoga with plenty of room for company.

EvenlowerZombie

THE REST OF THE STORY – THE PLAGUE FORGE, Jason M. Hough

PlagueForge

The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough

Book 3 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group

Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: September 24, 2013

This story of a future dystopian earth continues where The Exodus Tower left off.

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers If you have not read the first two episodes of this series, stop now, go back and read them. 

On their first visit, the aliens  left an elevator that can lift space craft up high enough so that they need little fuel to launch out of Earth’s atmosphere. For a while, it gave the world a great economic boost … until they dropped by again and left the plague. It killed millions upon millions and left millions more as mindless, kill crazy sub-humans.

The setting for all the books is the late mid-24th (2385) century. The first “gift” from the aliens was the elevator in Darwin, Australia. The second was the plague that forced the remainder of earth’s population to gather in their remnants. The Elevator — its proximity — confers a kind of protection from plague.

Skyler Luiken is an immune. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon affecting a tiny percentage of the population, enabling them to walk freely in the atmosphere without special breathing apparatus. Originally, with a crew of fellow immunes Skyler flew scavenging missions to collect resources to keep Darwin alive. His ship is gone and half his crew dead. Those not killed were separated when a piece of Darwin’s population broke away to build a new settlement in Belém, Brazil where the aliens dropped a second space elevator.

Now, the aliens are back again. On schedule as predicted. Why? What do they want? They’ve left artifacts, keys for the humans to patch together … to what purpose?

Not only are they back, but they are heading for the exact spot where the plague started. Are they coming to finish off what they began and kill the rest of the human population? Or are they coming to save earth and end the plague? How about both?

In this third volume of the Dire Earth trilogy, the intrepid Skyler Luiken is back in touch with Samantha, who is living undercover in the Jacobite-dominated city of Darwin … and his original group captain has reappeared.

It’s time for a reckoning. Skyler and Tania — now the unwilling “head” of the Belém colony — have to figure out how to put the puzzle together. Their problem? They have little to go on except hints, speculation, and fear. The urgent question remains: what do the aliens want? The secondary question is … well … who is going to wind up with who when it’s all sorted out. Skyler and … Tania? Ana? That is if anyone survives.

This final volume is where you will get the answers you’ve been waiting for. It’s a fast, taut thriller-type trip into a badly broken future as the good guys have to figure out who the bad guys are, if the bad guys are the bad guys or maybe they are good guys, sort of. Then, there are the Jacobites and Grillo who have taken over Darwin … bad enough without the potential doom coming with the aliens. Ultimate destruction or salvation await — in the air and on the ground. Talk about caught between a rock and a hard place …

Of the new science fiction I’ve read in the past couple of years, this is one of the most interesting. It is classic sci fi, the kind of story that hooked me on the genre more than 40 years ago.A tight, taut thriller, it raises plenty of questions, an endless number of questions. The final book holds the answers and I can hardly wait!

The Plague Forge is a great read. If anything, it’s faster moving and more like a thriller than the first two books. It is exactly what you have been hoping for if you’ve been following the series. Now available!

Gift of doom? The aliens return with The Exodus Tower, by Jason M. Hough

The Exodus Tower by Jason M. Hough

Book 2 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group — Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: August 27, 2013

This unique story of a future dystopian earth continues where The Darwin Tower left off.

Dystopian futures for our planet have become a genre. This story manages to combine elements of the Zombie apocalypse (not real Zombies, but  similar behavior), alien visitors with a strange, secret and maybe lethal agenda … and of course … the post plague survival.

On their first visit, the aliens  left an elevator that can lift space craft up high enough so that they need little fuel to launch out of Earth’s atmosphere. For a while, it gave the world a great economic boost … until they dropped by again and left the plague. It killed millions upon millions and left millions more as mindless, kill crazy sub-humans.

The setting for all the books is the late mid-24th (2385) century. The first “gift” from the aliens was the elevator in Darwin, Australia. The second was the plague that forced the remainder of earth’s population to gather in their remnants. The Elevator — its proximity — confers a kind of protection from plague.

Skyler Luiken is an immune. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon affecting a tiny percentage of the population, enabling them to walk freely in the atmosphere without special breathing apparatus. Originally, with a crew of fellow immunes Skyler flew scavenging missions to collect resources needed to keep Darwin’s population alive. His ship is gone and half his crew dead. Those not killed were separated when a piece of Darwin’s population broke away to build a new settlement in Belém, Brazil. Because the aliens have been back and that is where they have dropped a second space elevator.

Structural diagram of a space elevator. The ea...

Structural diagram of a space elevator. The earth is shown in a “top-down” perspective looking at the north pole, with the space elevator in equatorial orbit.  Space elevator structural diagram.

Confusion and fear deepen as the human population starts to tear itself apart. Skyler Luiken and scientist Dr. Tania Sharma have formed a colony around the new Elevator’s base, utilizing mobile towers to protect humans from the Builders’ plague. After fending off an attack from a roving band of plague-immune mercenaries bent on world domination (do humans ever learn?) a frightening suspicion is growing day by day.

The aliens are coming back. There’s a schedule. What will they do this time. But more important? What do they want? Why have the come, what’s the real purpose of the elevators and the towers? Deepening unease and ever wider rifts between colonists makes the future dark indeed..

In this second volume of the Dire Earth trilogy, the intrepid Skyler Luiken in Belém, and Samantha, his co-explorer from his first crew each begin to uncover and to some degree, unravel a lot of truth … disturbing and frightening truths with dark implications.

It’s a great read, as good as the first book. I’m just taking a short break before I dive into the final volume.

Of the new science fiction I’ve read in the past couple of years, this is one of the most interesting. It is classic sci fi, the kind of story that hooked me on the genre more than 40 years ago.A tight, taut thriller, it raises plenty of questions, an endless number of questions. The final book holds the answers and I can hardly wait!

I enjoyed these books from the first page of the first book. Taut and tense, full of thought-provoking concepts, there is nary a dull moment..

The Exodus Tower is scheduled for release on Kindle and paperback on August 27th.

The third and final volume of the trilogy — Plague Force — scheduled for release September 24th.

Keep watching the skies … and this site for the review of the final book in September.

Dystopia with a twist – The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough – Book 1 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group — Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: July 30 2013

Books about the dystopian future of earth are an entire genre nowadays. Whether it’s the post Zombie apocalypse, earth after the aliens have worked us over, earth after the bombs have dropped, earth after we’ve destroyed our own environment, earth after a plague or any of myriad unpleasant futures our imaginative science fiction writing community envision for us, postapocalyptic dystopian science fiction has proliferated. We can’t get enough of it. Me neither. I just eat it up.

The Darwin Elevator fall into two dystopian categories — post alien and post plague. It’s also a fine, fun piece of science fiction writing. It has great heroes (male and female) and some seriously nasty, bad-ass villains. There’s plenty of action and nary a dull moment.

SpaceElevator

In brief? The aliens came. They built an elevator in Darwin, Australia that is functionally a ladder to the stars as well as a quick-launch (well, not so quick, but highly economical of energy) pad for space shots.

The setting is late mid-24th century — around 2385 in Darwin, Australia. It’s the last human city. Most of the world’s population died of the plague brought by the aforementioned aliens. No one is quite sure whether the plague was unleashed intentionally or not, but the results of it have been devastating. Any parts of the human population not huddled around the elevator (built by the aliens) in Darwin — an area that confers protection on people under its “umbrella” — are now mindless, savage subhumans. Not zombies. Just very nasty.

Skyler Luiken was born with a natural immunity to the plague. It’s rare, though not unheard of. He and a group of fellow immunes  fly missions to scavenge urgently needed resources to keep Darwin functional. When the Elevator starts to experience frequent — unprecedented — power outages, Skyler and his intrepid crew, as well as the young and beautiful scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma are tasked to solve the mystery and repair the elevator. If the elevator fails, that’s the end of humanity. Doom.

This is the first book of a trilogy. The second and third parts are due out in mid August and early September. This is good insofar as you don’t have a long wait for the rest of the story. Bad, insofar as you know the good guy — Skyler — is going to make it, no matter how dubious his situation looks because, well, he’s the hero and there are two more books scheduled for publication. I don’t have a problem with this since I read a lot of series, trilogies, duologies and frankly, I prefer knowing the hero is going to survive. I’m not good with high level literary stress.

Although this certainly falls into the dystopian postapocalyptic science fiction designation, it isn’t quite like anything else I’ve read. The elevator — the entire concept — is interesting and unique. There are hints that there’s a lot more to this technology than mere technology. It’s not just power and gears and engineering specs. There’s something more going on, but we aren’t going to find out what that is quite yet.

I enjoyed the book from the first page. Sometimes, when you start a book, you just know it’s going to be a good one. This is a good one. Real science fiction, well written, nice and tight and tense. And based on an interesting premise. As sci fi goes, that’s pretty much what you need. It’s available on Kindle and paperback.

I highly recommend it. I can promise a good, not boring read that will make you absolutely want to read the next installment — The Exodus Tower — scheduled for release August 27th.

Tomorrow, you can read my review of The Exodus Tower. You can pre-order it through Amazon and probably elsewhere, too.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

This is the anniversary of when I discovered this great piece of real estate. Is it still for sale? It’s still on the Internet, but as we all know, things stay permanently in cyberspace. Regardless, if you are (rightfully) concerned about the zombie apocalypse, this is the house for you!

– – –

Until I started using Facebook, I honestly never much worried about the zombie apocalypse. Naiveté? Maybe.

In my innocence, I worried about other things … the Republican Party taking over both houses of Congress … lack of health care … polluting our environment … cutting down the rain forests … extinction of so many species … whether or not I was going to survive cancer and if I’d continue to be able to afford to have a roof over my head. Some sage — no, I don’t remember who it was — said you can only worry about 7 things at a time. As soon as you add another one, one of the previous batch just goes away. Maybe my poor brain just had no room to worry about zombies,  much less the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.

But then Facebook became a part of my world and soon I realized that I had been remiss. I wasn’t worrying about the truly important stuff. What WOULD I do when the crazed zombies attacked?

When I saw this property for sale, I realized the solution was at hand. Suddenly, my mind was at peace. Because I really care about all of you, I am passing along this important information. Maybe we could create a group and buy it, forming a commune that would be a safe haven against the day of The Big Attack.

Who knows? Here’s a link for those of you with the foresight to know a great deal when you see one … plus a few juicy pictures to whet your appetite. I feel so much better now that I’ve shared this critical information and solved one of the big problems facing the world today.

It looks perfectly normal from above.

A second view of the house and it’s sub levels.

It’s when you start going down to lower levels that you realize you’ve come to the perfect safe house.

Aerial view

Aerial view

Just a beautiful house in the mountains … that’s all you see from the air. Near beautiful woods, lakes and streams. Idyllic. Room for everything, even your own aircraft.

And it gets better the deeper you go. Literally.

BelowGroundZombie

Underground, you have a whole complete world. Check out the media room.

Really great media room!

Safe from the hoards of flesh-eating, lurching zombies. Secure? Here’s secure!

Worry no more. We have your back if you have the check.

EvenlowerZombie

 

The Zombie Vs. Robot War Continues — ZVR DIPLOMACY

ZVR Diplomacy — Zombies vs. Roberts, Edited by Jeff Conner

275 Pages

coverZVR32108-mediumThe Zombie versus Robot wars continue and expand. No longer confined to local skirmishes, the war between the Zombies and the Robots has become an international battle. The undead meet the never living in an apocalypse sure to delight Zombie and Robot fanciers alike.

ZVR Diplomacy takes you to heart of the ongoing war that seems foreordained to be a no-win. For Zombie versus Robot aficionados, there’s something for everyone in this new collection of original short stories, all set in the United States or Russia. These are sure to satisfy your every itch for gore and glory.

Writers from around the globe sent their offering to IDW’s Lab of Loathsome Literature for inclusion in this volume: the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK and even Russia (proving you can’t predict where you’ll find ex-pat American sci fi writers). This is an intriguing, uniquely focused bunch of stories, not merely about battles, but about — of all things — diplomacy.

Diplomacy? Can you negotiate with Zombies? How? For that matter, Zombies and Robots are not natural pals; they have nothing about which to negotiate. Zombies want brains and more brains. Robots, creatures of metal, wire and circuitry have nothing Zombies want — except that the bots get out of the way so the Zombies can get to the biological brain creatures. Negotiate?

Well, not exactly. Okay, not really. Great title, but there isn’t any negotiating going on that I could detect, at least not as I understand it. More like fighting Zombies and trying to find their weaknesses so we can kill them faster and more efficiently. Is that diplomacy? I’d call it tactics. Perhaps the title strains credulity just a bit. Do not expect round tables and formal treaties. This is much closer to calculated slaughter. When dealing with Zombies, that’s likely to be as good as it gets.

Desperate battles are set in dystopic future Earths where The Bombs have taken a massive civilian toll. Or on a similarly dsytopic Earth where the bombs haven’t yet fallen, but might fall soon.

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Human failures in leadership allow the Zombie threat to become too powerful to easily stop. If it weren’t for the Warbots, the Zombies would have knocked off human life before we knew who the enemy was, leaving the eternal question: what would the Zombies do after they’ve wiped out people? Eat animals? Each other? You gotta wonder.

There are lots of great images. My particular favorite is the British King smoking what he believes will be his final cigarette on the balcony of Buckingham palace … waiting for atombots to come and blow everything to hell and gone. Zombies, people, everything. He’s wondering if that will be a victory. Is total annihilation victory? Always a good question. Don’t expect an answer. In fact, don’t expect any answers. This isn’t that kind of book.

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Stories by Steven Lockley, Rio Youers, Robert Hood, Gary McMahon, Ekaterina Sedia, Simon Clark, Dale Bailey, and Simon Kurt Unsworth — all top writers in the zombie horror and robot mayhem genre are included in this compilation of ongoing ZVR wars.

The illustrations by Michael Dubisch are great. If I hadn’t read a word of any of the stories, I would have been happy just looking at the pictures. If you are a fancier of graphic arts, these are superb. The book is worth it just for the illustrations. Kudos to the artist. Very well done Mr. Dubisch!

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Thirty-one stories, some of which are quite long. You can get involved and stay awhile. And there’s plenty of variety of style, so if one story isn’t quite your cuppa tea, the next one probably is. Each story is conceptually unique and stylistically different.

For fans of the Zombie-Robot wars, ZVR Diplomacy is a must-have. There’s plenty to read, great illustrations, more than enough action, battles, bots, zombies, mass destruction, guts, gore and triumph to satisfy anyone who likes this genre.

I’m not a big Zombie fancier, yet even I was well-entertained. Much to my surprise. If this is your thing, you won’t want to miss it. It’s available on Kindle and paperback.

Retrocausality: All You Zombies, Robert Heinlein

SnapIt-137

Time travel makes my brain go “eek.” This is not a criticism. It’s a compliment. Not many things make my brain do back flips and somersaults. Time travel is an impossible concept I cannot understand because it is inherently incomprehensible. Therefore, I love it.

One story by Robert Heinlein which I read long decades ago in a compilation of his classic short stories remains on the top of the heap of such tales. It took me a while to find it. It is called “All You Zombies.”

In this strange endless and infinite loop, a baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She has a brief passionate relationship with him and becomes pregnant.

The stranger disappears. During a weird and complicated birthing, Jane’s doctors discover she actually has two complete sets of sex organs. With her life on the line, the doctors change her from female to male. Jane is now a man.

And then …. a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby. Jane is a man and childless. Depressed, lost, he becomes a drunk and a drifter and eventually, meets a young woman in a bar, who he makes pregnant during a brief affair. It gets even more complicated with the involvement of the Time Corps and a bartender all moving forward and backward in time. Find it, read it, and get your own brain in a twist!

Suffice to say that all the characters are one. The story is a paradox, completely impossible yet so logical you can neither reject nor accept it. And, my brain goes “Eek!!” Jane is everyone and everyone is Jane. She is her complete family: tree, trunk, branches, roots. I found this amazing diagram of the story. I do not know where it originated and I would love to credit whoever drew it in the first place.

Tree of lives

The logic combined with the impossibility of the sequence where the same person is mother, father and child forever living in an infinite loop — the snake eating its tail — is delicious and mind-blowing.

You can get it for your Kindle from Amazon for $1.25 right now, click here. OR … probably you can find it as part of an anthology of Heinlein short stories, but I don’t know exactly which anthology. I’m sure you can find it somewhere, though. It’s a classic and if you read it, you will not forget it. I promise.

I have read many hundreds of time travel books and stories over more than 50 years of loving science fiction. But this one, this  particular story, has stuck fast in my brain as probably the most perfect paradox as the past, present and future all roll in on themselves.

Run for your life!

220px-Major_crimesUnless you live on another planet, you have watched your share of crime and cop shows. In first run, rerun, and who knows which run. Cops and crime are the ubiquitous backbone of prime time television and the fast-flowing mainstream of Hollywood. We are fascinated, even obsessed by criminals, cops, courtrooms and killers.

Add the alphabetic agencies,  CIA, FBI,  CSI, NCIS, then throw in some lawyers, car chases, bombs, guns and frontier justice and you have American television for the past 50 years, give or take a decade. There are now — and have been — so many series in this genre I defy anyone to remember all of them (though it might be fun to try). Is there a database for this somewhere?

It’s possible to watch crime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At one point, I became addicted to  “Law and Order.” I required frequent fixes. It turned out to be no problem because there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing somewhere all the time. You just have to look.

These days, Garry and I watch a great many cop shows, usually reruns of favorites from the recent or not-so-recent past. We can predict dialogue for all of them, including those we’ve never seen before. It turns out there are only a couple of plots, both of which use the same script.

If you watch enough of these shows, you could write them too. You know what’s going to happen before the first commercial break, sometimes before the credits. You know who the killer is. It’s the guest star if there is one, otherwise, it’s the irrelevant character or the first one who points the finger at someone else. One way or the other, you recognize the perp the moment he or she shows up on-screen.

I used to hope for something new and different. Now, I just hope they do the clichés well.

Pilot

Some stuff has become so standard we hear it coming. As the words roll out, we sing along. At our house, we liven things up by laying odds on when the writers will leap on a cliché and what the precise wording will be. Our favorite is when a cop has someone with him or her in the cruiser — a child, relative reporter, friend, former cop (retired, of course), journalist — who is by chance and script on site when the star is called to the scene of a crime.

So. What does he or she say?

You got it.

“STAY IN THE CAR!” “Stay here!” “Whatever you do, don’t follow me!” “If I’m not back in 5 minutes, get away …”

You’ve seen it a zillion times. It never gets old and unlike most jokes, it always gets a laugh. It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes and it brings the house down every time. It actually showed up in a book I was reading earlier today. It’s included in every show … brand new shows, with brand new writers, directors and stars.

Nah. I bet they only look new. They are probably using the same script as all the others.

Whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gun fight, crime scene, stalker, serial killer or zombie attack, it doesn’t matter. No one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra destined to die before the opening credits, no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car, truck, or anywhere else. They never will.

Pauley Perrette in the season opener of NCIS.

In life, we generally know when we should really stay in the car. Not get involved. Let someone else take this one.

Who stays in the car and who gets out?

Until recently, I never stayed in the car. I took chances. In a different world, I might have been a cop or a detective. Something exciting, anyhow. Alas, but the need for a steady paycheck sent me down a different professional path, one on which opportunities for adventure were rare. Okay, non-existent. Software development does not offer an edgy lifestyle.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (season 6)

So I did what I could to make up for it in my personal life. I had too much fun to regret it, and anyway the experience taught me to deal with the unexpected. There’s been a lot of unexpected to deal with. If you never venture out of your comfort zone you aren’t going to survive the disasters that drop like car bombs into your life. Sooner or later, you have to get out of the car, right? Especially if someone planted a car bomb … is that too much analogy?

Time has marched on. These days, I do stay in the car. Family drama is enough. More would be redundant. I can sustain my sense of adventure through television reruns, memories of the good old days and an occasional terrifying ride on a killer roller coaster. I’ve had a lot of out-of-car experiences. I could use a dose of calm, dull and ordinary.

But you never know. I mean, anything can happen, right? If I’m on the scene, if life  just puts me where stuff is happening … would I really stay in the car? Would you?