Everything is awful—or it will be soon
Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase: Contemporary North American Dystopian Literature by Brett Josef Grubisic, Giséle M. Baxter, and Tara Lee, eds. (Wilfred Laurier University Press, $48.99).
This pricy little academic title is more than worth the money if, like so many of today’s readers, you’ve never met a dystopia you didn’t like. The essays focus on the period between the 1994 adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and 9/11 and—as it comes from north of the border—tend to provide more insight into Canadian novels.
That means it’s a good source of reading material for us Yanks.
Of special note is Annette LaPointe’s wonderful essay on Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy, but essays cover both the familiar apocalyptic (Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) and lesser-known literatures (“Love, War, and Mal de Amores: Utopia and Dystopia in the Mexican Revolution”).
In short, if—as the sales figures demonstrate—we love us some dystopia, this collection of essays gives some smart new ways to talk about that passion.

Everything is awful—or it will be soon

Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase: Contemporary North American Dystopian Literature by Brett Josef Grubisic, Giséle M. Baxter, and Tara Lee, eds. (Wilfred Laurier University Press, $48.99).

This pricy little academic title is more than worth the money if, like so many of today’s readers, you’ve never met a dystopia you didn’t like. The essays focus on the period between the 1994 adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and 9/11 and—as it comes from north of the border—tend to provide more insight into Canadian novels.

That means it’s a good source of reading material for us Yanks.

Of special note is Annette LaPointe’s wonderful essay on Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy, but essays cover both the familiar apocalyptic (Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) and lesser-known literatures (“Love, War, and Mal de Amores: Utopia and Dystopia in the Mexican Revolution”).

In short, if—as the sales figures demonstrate—we love us some dystopia, this collection of essays gives some smart new ways to talk about that passion.

The robotic millennia

Robot Uprisingsedited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams (Vintage, $15.95).

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday, $26.95).

The robot apocalypse is, to many, the most frightening of all. First, because it’s the most likely; even at this stage of development, with true AI still probably decades away, a self-replicating, rapidly-mutating computer virus could send us back to the Stone Age in a hurry. And second, because the idea of appealing to something mechanical and electrical for mercy seems pretty futile.

Only, it’s not necessarily so.

The stories contained in Robot Uprising, an anthology edited by robot apocalypse specialist Daniel H. Wilson and horror/science fiction anthologist extraordinaire John Joseph Adams, offers some robots (including nanotech) that are more like us than not.

Among the best: Charles Yu’s indecisive household robot, trying to figure out each morning if this is the day the human dies; “Executable,” Hugh Howey’s story of the aftermath of the robot apocalypse, in which survivors stand judgment on a robotics tech; Cory Doctorow’s thoughtful and emotionally wrenching “Epoch,” about plans to destroy the first fully-conscious AI; and Julianna Bagott’s haunting “The Golden Hour,” in which the robot Pony suffers from PTSD and is treated by a human with the “talking cure.”

But my favorite is “We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War.” Seanan McGuire (who, as Mira Grant, has written the awesome Newsflesh series about the zombie apocalypse) here looks at what happens when the emergent AI exists in children’s toys—and, like Peter Pan, it doesn’t want any of the people it loves to grow up.

Daniel H. Wilson, not satisfied with this fantastic anthology and the rip-roaring Robopocalypsenow offers up a sequel to that ground-breaking novel. Robogenesis is obviously the second in a trilogy, if only because it leaves so many unanswered questions.

After the end of the New War, described in the first book, humans think they can relax. Hardly. 

There’s a new robot master in town, and he’s a pretty nasty guy. He takes over human dogsbodies—including one fellow we kinda liked at first—and before the humans have a chance to breathe, the True War begins.

The best and brightest characters from the last outing return, including Mathilda, the little girl with the robotic implant eyes, and Arbiter Nine Oh Two, the humanoid robot who can’t help but focus on human emotions. 

Wilson again uses the multi-vocal approach to story-telling, which not only provides us insight into what characters are thinking and feeling, but also ratchets up the story’s tension so that it’s impossible to put down.

An all-around excellent read, Robogenesis follows up on some of the logical extensions of plot elements from the first book—but leaves us in media res and waiting for the next installment of this terrifying, apocalyptic series.

Scientists have found antibiotic-resistant superbugs during tests on a river in Coventry.

The bacteria was discovered in the River Sowe and is the first of its type discovered in any British river.

The drug-resistent bugs were found in samples taken by experts from the University of Warwick near the Finham sewage treatment works.

They say the find is hugely significant because of its implications for treating diseases.

It’s in the water in England, folks. 

Scientists warn of ‘Armageddon’ after drug-resistant superbug found in Coventry river,” by Cara Simpson (Coventry Telegraph).

‘Snowpiercer’ Review

tscruffynh:

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From the moment Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer started, we knew exactly what we had come to see. This apocalyptic thriller began dark and ended darkly, every moment in between reminding us that this film is not for the faint of heart. Even with a somewhat anti-climactic and brutal ending, Snowpiercer was a thrilling film, filled with fantastic performances – some from unexpected places – and some of…

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I enjoyed this movie, despite the incredibly large amount of graphic violence.

teepublic:

Featured Designer: Opawapo

That’s when the sirens begin, the worst sound in the world, and the sound you’ve dreaded all your life. It’s here: the soundtrack to hell — wailing, flaring, warbling, and unreal — collapsing and confusing both time and space the way an ex-smoker collapses time and space at night when they dream in horror that they find themselves smoking. But here the ex-smoker wakes up to find a lit cigarette in his hand and the horror is complete. The manager is heard through a bullhorn, asking shoppers to calmly vacate, but no one’s paying much attention. Carts are left in the aisles and the bodies flee, carrying and dropping looted roast beefs and bottles of Evian on the sidewalk outside. The parking lot is now about as civilized as a theme park’s bumper cars. But the fat man remains, as does the cashier, who is wispily blond, with a bony hillbilly nose and translucent white skin. They, your best friend, and you remain frozen, speechless, and your minds become the backlid NORAD world map of mythology — how cliché! And on it are the traced paths of fireballs, stealthily, inexorably passing over Baffin Island, the Aleutians, Labrador, the Azores, Lake Superior, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Puget Sound, Maine… it’s only a matter of moments now, isn’t it? ‘I always promised myself,’ says the fat man, in a voice so normal as to cause the three of you to be jolted out of your thoughs, ‘that when this moment came, I would behave with some dignity in whatever time remains and so, Miss —’ he says, turning to the clerk in particular, ‘let me please pay for my purchases.’ The clerk, in the absence of other choices, accepts his money. Then comes The Flash. ‘Get down,’ you shout, but they continue their transaction, deer transfixed by headlights. ‘There’s no time!’ But your warning remains unheeded. And so, just before the front windows become a crinkled, liquefied imploding sheet — the surface of a swimming pool during a high dive, as seen from below — And just before you’re pelleted by a hail of gum and magazines — And just before the fat man is lifted off his feet, hung in suspended animation and bursts into flames while the liquefied ceiling lifts and drips upward — Just before all of this, your best friend cranes his neck, lurches over to where you lie, and kisses you on the mouth, after which he says to you, ‘There. I’ve always wanted to do that.’ And that’s that. In the silent rush of hot wind, like the opening of a trillion oven doors that you’ve been imagining since you were six, it’s all over: kind of scary, kind of sexy, and tainted by regret. A lot like life, wouldn’t you say? Generation X — Tales for an accelerated Culture, Douglas Coupland (via yourstrulymartinpawley)