Review: “A Canticle For Liebowitz” By Walter M. Miller Jr (Novel)

Well, since I was still in the mood for sci-fi, I thought that I’d take a look at a rather interesting dystopian novel from 1959 called “A Canticle For Liebowitz” By Walter M. Miller Jr. I first heard about this novel after watching this fascinating “Extra Sci-fi” video about it (SPOILERS) on Youtube and was intrigued enough to track down a second-hand copy of it a couple of days later.

So, let’s take a look at “A Canticle For Liebowitz”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

This is the 1984 Black Swan (UK) paperback edition of “A Canticle For Liebowitz” that I read.

“A Canticle For Liebowitz” is a three-part novel, following life in a remote American desert monastery during three different time periods following a devastating nuclear war during the 1960s. The novel begins with a young novice called Francis performing a Lenten vigil in the desert, when he is greeted by a mysterious old pilgrim.

Whilst the two don’t get along very well at first, the old pilgrim finds him a stone for his improvised shelter – which happens to be the capstone of a fallout shelter containing some of the pre-apocalyptic “memorabilia” that the monastery strives to copy, hide and preserve in the violently anti-intellectual climate following the war. Of course, there are questions and doubts about the authenticity of these relics…

The second part of the novel takes place centuries later in a renaissance-like period of history, where America is split into several kingdoms (who are on the brink of war) and it focuses on a brilliant – but arrogant- scholar and scientist called Thon Thaddeo who reluctantly travels to the monastery after they refuse to send their “memorabilia” to him. Whilst there, he discovers that one of the monks has managed to build some primitive electrical technology and also ends up arguing with the abbot about matters of religion and science.

The third part of the novel is set in a more conventional science fiction future, with spaceships, voice-controlled computers etc… The monastery is still standing and now also carries out scientific research too. Yet, political tensions between east and west are gradually building in the background after a series of illegal nuclear tests. Will humanity once again repeat the mistakes of its past?

One of the first things that I will say about this novel is that it is a well-written, intelligent and creative sci-fi novel that not only rightly deserves its status as an influential classic of the genre, but is also surprisingly timeless too. However, it is also an even more slow-paced novel than I’d initially expected. So, be sure to set aside some time if you want to read it. It’s worth the time, but don’t expect it to be “easy reading” in any sense of the term.

In terms of the novel’s science fiction elements, they’re really creative 🙂 For the most part, this is a literal science fiction novel – in other words, a novel about science itself. By focusing on humanity gradually rediscovering all of their lost scientific knowledge, this novel is not only able to capture the thrill and awe that this knowledge first evoked (seriously, the scene with the arc lamp is epic!), but also the fear that it evoked too.

One of the novel’s many running themes is that of scientific hubris, often shown in the novel’s many conflicts between scientific progress and religious tradition. Yet, in a brilliantly creative twist, the monks are responsible for preserving and interpreting the knowledge – yet find themselves worried when the secular scholars they have been preserving it for finally reach the level of intelligence needed to understand it.

This is also one of the earliest post-apocalyptic novels and it includes many tropes that would later become mainstays of the genre – such as violent bands of survivors, the ruins of civilisation and widespread genetic mutations. Interestingly, whilst the novel does include a few other dystopian features (eg: the harsh desert, the harshness of the monastery etc…), the most chillingly dystopian element of this novel is probably its main theme of cyclical history – of civilisation destroying and rebuilding itself over and over again. Although this is shown through large-scale events, it is also hinted at through a recurring character in all three segments of the story, similar tragic endings for all three parts and occasional references to characters from previous parts of the story.

It is also one of the few novels – the only other one I can think of is James Herbert’s “Domain” – that really shows the bleakness, horrors and consequences of nuclear war. Given that this novel was written during the early-middle part of the cold war, and just three years before the Cuban missile crisis, I’m guessing that it would have been even more chillingly topical back then. Even so, the novel is still one of the most powerful and harrowing anti-nuclear novels that you’ll read (it isn’t quite as bleak as an old TV show like “Threads“, but it certainly comes close at times).

This is also a novel about history too, with most of the novel’s backstory being deliberately vague, unreliable or ambiguous. Not only does this add a lot to the post-apocalyptic atmosphere, but it also helps to emphasise how far humanity has fallen when the only remnants of the past are things like incomprehensible document fragments, wildly exaggerated mythology, rumours and local folklore. It also shows how history is distorted, forgotten and/or re-interpreted over time too – such as when a drunken character’s glass eye becomes a revered relic several hundred years later or how the story of Francis’ unceremonious meeting with the pilgrim quickly morphs into a novel-sized tome, thanks to embellished re-tellings and speculation.

Another cool thing about this novel is how it manages to be both a large-scale and a small-scale drama at the same time. By focusing on life in the monastery during various time periods, the novel achieves a “close-up” level of intensity and humanity that really makes you care about all of the large-scale stuff that is relayed to the reader in a few short scenes, extracts from letters, dialogue segments etc… This blending of small and large-scale drama works really well and helps to add a lot of realism to the story.

Another main theme of this novel is religion. Although I’m guessing that you’ll probably get more out of this novel if you are a Christian (especially if you are Catholic), the novel uses religion not only to add atmosphere to the story but also to ask questions about humanity, science etc.. and to debate various topics. The novel’s presentation of religion is fairly nuanced with, for example, some of the monks’ questions and thoughts seeming valid and others seeming either dogmatic or cruel (such as Abbot Zerchi’s objections to euthanasia during one especially bleak part of the novel).

Likewise, despite the emphasis on tradition and the frequent use of Latin (not all of which is translated), one of the fascinating things about this novel is how a lot of the novel’s events end up being incorporated into the monks’ religious beliefs over time. With, for example, the patron saint of their abbey being a scientist from before the apocalypse, history being translated into religious stories etc…. This is either a nuanced comment about how people use religion to make sense of the world or perhaps an amusingly irreverent critique of things like religious traditions etc…

And, yes, despite the bleakness, this novel has a surprising amount of subtle and/or quirky humour in it too. Not only does this make the post-apocalpytic elements seem harsher by contrast, but it also adds a level of realism and humanity to the story in a way that you don’t always see in post-apocalyptic stories too.

As for the characters, this novel is really good. Although it covers a large sweep of history and therefore contains a fairly large cast of characters, all of them seem like flawed and realistic people who have a reasonable amount of emotional and psychological depth.

The writing in this novel is excellent, but challenging. As you would expect with a slightly older novel, this novel’s third-person narration is written in a slightly more formal and descriptive way than a modern novel. Whilst this allows for a lot of extra atmosphere, complexity and personality (seriously, this novel has a brilliant narrative voice), it will make the novel feel very slow-paced if you’re used to more streamlined modern fiction.

Another cool thing about this novel is that the early parts of the “futuristic” third segment of the novel are written in a vaguely beat literature/ modernist literature kind of style (vaguely reminiscent of parts of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World“, James Joyce, William Burroughs etc..) – although this is only a short segment, this really helps to add a “retro future” atmosphere to these parts of the story.

However, this novel also assumes that the reader understands Latin – and, although I was still able get the basic meaning of many of these parts of the novel from the context, there are probably some subtle elements of the story I missed out on because I don’t know that much Latin.

In terms of length and pacing, this novel is fairly good when you get used to it. At 356 pages in length, it may seem relatively short, but the slow pacing will mean that it’ll take you as long to read as a 500-700 page modern novel. Still, the slow pacing is a good fit with the story and it allows for a lot of extra depth and complexity too. Likewise, the novel’s three-part structure is absolutely genius and it really helps to add a sense of grand historical scale to the story.

As for how this sixty-one year old novel has aged, it is pretty much timeless 🙂 Not only are the futuristic post-apocalyptic settings pretty much timeless (evoking both the middle ages and classic sci-fi), but the novel’s characters, atmosphere, themes etc.. are almost all handled in a very timeless way too.

Plus, not only does this novel include a critique of some of the attitudes of the age (eg: with regard to genetics and racism) that seems slightly ahead of it’s time, but the novel has also been influential on several later sci-fi works (eg: a later episode of “Babylon 5”, the ‘all of this has happened before…’ saying in the modern remake of “Battlestar Galactica” etc..) and was also one of the first sci-fi novels to get mainstream recognition/respectability. Pretty much the only clue that this novel was written in 1959 is the slightly more formal writing style (and maybe some slightly dated/stylised dialogue from a vaguely Native American-style warrior character during a brief part of the novel’s second segment).

All in all, this novel deserves its reputation as a classic. Yes, it is very slow-paced and rather gloomy/pessimistic but, if you can get over this, then you’ll be richly rewarded with an atmospheric, complex and intelligent novel that has stood the test of time extremely well and had a major impact on the sci-fi genre as a whole.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.

Review: “The Afterblight Chronicles: Kill Or Cure” By Rebecca Levene (Novel)

Well, I thought that I’d take a break from horror fiction and read some post-apocalyptic fiction instead 🙂 I’d originally planned to read an urban fantasy novel but I found that I wasn’t really in the mood for it. So, I needed to find another book.

A few months earlier, I’d read Rebecca Levene’s amazing “Anno Mortis” and was delighted to find that she’d had another novel published by the one and only Abaddon Books in 2007 called “The Afterblight Chronicles: Kill Or Cure”. So, I bought a second-hand copy of it back then… and then somehow forgot about it until now.

Although “Kill Or Cure” is part of a multi-author series called “The Afterblight Chronicles”, this novel can be read as a stand-alone novel. From what I can gather about the series, it seems to consist of several authors writing separate stories that all follow the same post-apocalyptic backstory/premise.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “The Afterblight Chronicles: Kill Or Cure”. Needless to say, this review may contain some SPOILERS.

This is the 2007 Abaddon Books (UK) paperback edition of “The Afterblight Chronices: Kill Or Cure” that I read.

The novel begins with a brief scene showing the narrator, Jasmine, shooting an un-named man. Then the story flashes back to several weeks earlier. With most of the world’s population wiped out by a plague called “The Cull” that kills anyone who doesn’t have O- blood, Jasmine has spent the past five years living in the ruins of the underground research facility that she’d once worked at. The experimental plague vaccine she took back then has also had lingering psychotic side-effects and, in order to quiet the voices in her head, Jasmine has spent the past five years working her way through the facility’s large stocks of morphine.

Then, one day, she hears people breaking into the facility. Although she tries to hide and send out a distress call, the mysterious henchmen catch her and take her to a stolen cruise ship in the Carribbean. The ship is run by a woman called Queen M who orders Jasmine to work as a medic for her, or else. Although life under Queen M’s rule initially seems like the closest thing to a normal life in this post-apocalyptic world, Jasmine is ordered to accompany some of the group’s henchmen on a “recruiting” trip to Paris. The atrocities she witnesses during the trip convince Jasmine that she needs to find some way to escape from Queen M’s headquarters, or die trying…

One of the first things that I will say about this novel is that, to my surprise, it was more of a thriller novel than I’d expected 🙂 Although it certainly contains a fair amount of horror and grim post-apocalyptic “edginess”, it’s actually more like a really awesome 1990s late-night B movie in novel form 🙂 In other words, although this novel includes some fairly grim subject matter, it isn’t really that bleak or miserable to read 🙂 It’s a wonderfully fun and gloriously over-the-top rollercoaster ride of a novel 🙂

So, I should probably start by talking about this novel’s thriller elements, which are excellent 🙂 In addition to fast-paced narration and quite a few intense gunfights, some parts of this novel also read like a mixture of a heist thriller and a prison escape thriller 🙂 Not only are these genres always fun to see but the mixture between fast-paced action and tense, suspenseful thinking and planning really helps to add some variety to this novel too. Plus, the fact that the story has an unreliable narrator also helps to add some extra drama and suspense as well.

This novel also takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of several intriguingly dystopian post-apocalyptic locations too and the addition of a few horror elements (eg: zombie-like people, evil experiments, gory injuries, creepy characters, psychological horror etc…) also helps to keep the story’s thrilling plot compellingly unpredictable. Plus, although the novel’s grim elements sometimes veer more towards 1990s-style “edginess”, this actually sort of works here since it balances out some of the more stylised, cheesy and over-the-top elements of the story and helps to maintain the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

All of this adds up to, as I mentioned earlier, something like a really fun late-night B-movie from the 1990s 🙂 Seriously, if you like your post-apocalypses filled with evil armed gangs, fast vehicles, anti-heroes and the kind of over-the-top story where, if you weren’t so eager to see what will happen next, you’d be laughing affectionately at it, then you’ll really enjoy this novel 🙂

Interestingly, this novel also contains a few interesting sci-fi elements too 🙂 Not only are some remnants of modern technology still working in the post-apocalyptic world, but the explanation behind the apocalypse is both mysterious enough to be dramatic whilst well-explained enough to be plausible. Not to mention that quite a bit of the story revolves around the topic of medical research too. Yes, the sci-fi elements are more of a background thing, but they help to add an extra layer of depth to the novel.

In addition to this, it’s also a dystopian novel about the contrast between anarchy and dictatorship too, with creepy examples of both appearing within the story. Although the story is a bit of a warning about how chaos allows the most evil people to take charge (in addition to being a criticism of things like colonialism etc.. too), this message is undercut somewhat by the fact that the main characters briefly end up in a nuclear-armed city state that is run by a cultured, benevolent dictator who helps them out. Even so, all of this dystopian stuff helps to add extra drama and suspense to the story, since Jasmine finds herself in a world where nowhere is truly safe and almost no-one can be trusted.

In terms of the characters, this novel is reasonably good. Although you shouldn’t expect ultra-deep characterisation, Jasmine is a really interesting morally-ambiguous anti-hero/unreliable narrator who helps to add a bit of intensity and personality to the story. Plus, the story’s dystopian villains are all suitably creepy and the characters that Jasmine teams up with during her escape are a really interesting bunch of people, whose backstories also give us a brief glimpse at the ways that the apocalypse has affected several other parts of the world too.

In terms of the writing, this novel’s first-person narration is written in the kind of informal, “matter of fact” way that you’d expect from a fast-paced thriller and it works really well 🙂 Not only does the first-person perspective add a bit of extra intensity to the novel but the fact that the reader gets to see inside Jasmine’s mind means that the “anti-hero” parts of the novel are a bit more dramatic, understandable and less cheesy than they would probably be in a novel with third-person narration.

As for length and pacing, this novel is really good. At an efficient 272 pages in length, not a single page is wasted 🙂 And, as you’d expect from a good thriller novel, this one is rather fast-paced too 🙂 However, it is perhaps slightly too fast-paced in some parts – with the novel occasionally moving just a little bit too fast to build the maximum amount of atmosphere or suspense in a few segments. Even so, given that the previous two novels I’ve read have been fairly slow-paced, it was still refreshing to read something a bit more fast-paced 🙂

All in all, even though I preferred Levene’s “Anno Mortis” to this novel, it’s still a really enjoyable one 🙂 If you want a fun fast-paced post-apocalyptic thriller that reminds you of the best late-night B movies from the 1990s, but with a bit of extra grittiness/edginess, then this novel is well worth reading 🙂

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

“Void” By C. A. Brown (Short Story)

Reza raised the scanner and swept it over the churned ground. On the screen, a thousand tiny fragments glittered like stars. He tapped a couple of buttons and waited. Five seconds later, a pop-up appeared: RECONSTRUCTION ALGORITHM COULD NOT RESOLVE DATA.

Muttering under his breath, he brought up a menu and set it to reconstruct multiple objects. A memory allocation error appeared. Reza twiddled with the amplification dial on the side of the scanner, hoping that getting rid of the smaller fragments would free up some memory for the processor. But, just after he started the process again, the air around him cooled by several degrees.

Without even thinking, he reached back and flipped up the hood of his anorak before returning to the screen. It was still processing. Curses and prayers competed for his attention. The air got colder. The little spinning thing on the screen moved slightly faster. Come on!

A reassuring ping echoed through the air. As Reza raised his head to the grey sky with relief, the rain fell. There was no small pattering of drizzle to give him a moment’s grace. One second, the air was cold and heavy. The next, it was a solid sheet of rain. Without even thinking, he hunched over the scanner and ran.

His feet squelched and slopped. He almost slipped. He kept running. Keep the scanner dry. He didn’t look up. He knew the route.

At least, he thought he did. As his shoulder slammed into the scorched trunk of an old tree, Reza realised that he was lost. The bare branches gave him little shelter. He ignored the ache in his shoulder and stayed crouched over the scanner. Worst case scenario, the rain will pass in six hours.

Luckily for him, he didn’t have to wait six hours. Above the furious pounding of the rain, Reza heard an intermittent slopping sound. Turning his head sideways, he saw a bright orange shape moving through the rain. A smile crossed his face. He kept crouching. Two minutes later, a hand touched his shoulder.

Beside him, Suzy shouted: ‘Come on! Follow me.’ She fumbled through her anorak and pulled out a plastic bag: ‘Cover it with this.’

As soon as Reza had got the scanner covered, they ran. It was only when the half-buried tube of the site station began to appear that Reza realised where he’d gone wrong. With all of the chaos of trying to get a reading before the day’s rains hit, he’d wandered into the neighbouring field. It was easy enough to do when your eyes were glued to a screen for hours.

Suzy held the door open as Reza rushed into the corrugated tube. Seconds later, she clanged it shut. Above their heavy breathing, rain pinged off of the roof like machine gun fire. The piercing smell of petrichor hung in the air. Reza fumbled with the bag and handed it back to Suzy. She placed it on the pitted wooden table before staring at the scanner screen. It was still working.

‘Did you get anything?’ Suzy sat down and reached for the scratched biscuit tin.

Reza pressed a few buttons on the scanner ‘Yeah. Hmmm…. Nothing in the database about it. Hold on, I’ll try a date extrapolation. Might be a few minutes.’

Pulling two misshapen biscuits from the tin, Suzy leaned over the scanner. On the flickering screen, a flat black ingot encased in shattered glass sat beside a loading bar. It made no sense whatsover. The glass couldn’t be there to protect whatever was inside it. Maybe it was some kind of emergency item, like the old fire alarms back at HQ? Suzy shook her head. Who would need a portable fire alarm?

She handed a biscuit to Reza. They ate in silence. The loading bar crawled forwards. Suzy smiled: ‘Have you got any idea what it is?’

‘My best guess is that it’s some kind of currency. The latest message from the London site mentioned finding thousands of items like this one amongst the bone fragments. The glass casing is a new touch, though. Maybe it was more valuable than the London specimens or something like that?’

The scanner pinged. They both stared at the screen. The number 2018 stared back at them. Reza laughed. ‘Typical.’

Suzy sighed ‘We got drenched for that? Another bloody void item.’

‘Don’t worry, we’ll piece it together eventually. I mean, we know it’s an early void item. So, it’s another clue.’

Suzy reached for another biscuit ‘Yes, but I was hoping for some real history. Some pre-2007 thing that actually told us something. It makes no sense! People before then had everything – recreational buildings, detailed machine-printed writings, tiny mechanical clocks and even reels of sequential images. Then, one year, they all just suddenly decide to start a two-century dark age. It makes no sense.’

Reza grinned and pointed at the plastic bag on the table: ‘I don’t know, they certainly knew how to make bags back then.’

Short Story: “Trance” By C. A. Brown

The secret to going into a trance is the music. Sure, people might try to sell you speed-reader guff about reading every other line or only reading books that use New Standard Narration. But, the secret to becoming one with your paperback (and, yes, hardbacks are for poseurs) is choosing the right music. Of course, as the oldies keep telling us, this used to be much easier before the Great Flare of ’75 fried every piece of silicon to a crisp.

But, if you can dig up a good X-Ray plate roentgenizdat record from one of the old 20th Century Soviet Republics, then you can squeeze in an extra hundred words a minute. The trick is choosing something fast enough and listening to it often enough that your conscious mind blocks it out as background noise. Once this happens, your subconscious mind treats the music as a metronome. You start reading in time with it and it’s like souping up your brain with nitro fuel.

And, talking of souping up your brain, don’t let the powder peddlers fool you. You’ll find at least one of them in any library and they’ve got their sales patter down to a fine art. Don’t fall for it.

Best case scenario, you’ll end up with a pouch of vintage spine dust culled from the parts of the library no-one visits. Worst case scenario, you’ll be able to read nine hundred words a minute until you burn out. This might sound good on paper, but you won’t remember a single word of it. Which kind of defeats the point.

Of course, as essential as good music is to trancing out and losing yourself in a paperback, you’ve gotta be careful. Because libraries never fully went over to silicon chips, they were one of the few parts of the world that didn’t get royally fractured when the solar flare hit.

As such, they’re almost as bad as churches when it comes to traditions. Even second-generation librarians, born in carbolic-smelling wards shrouded in the inky darkness of a thousand flare-fried electric lanterns, have an eerie obsession with silence.

Apparently, before the flare, there were these things called ear-buds that you could use as a cloaking device for your music. They’re even mentioned outside of the science fiction section. An oldie even told me about them once. Claimed that he still had some in a wooden box somewhere, but that they wouldn’t fit into the dial on his phonograph.

Last I heard, he tried to sell them to a museum and was never seen again. I like to think he made millions and moved to some island somewhere, but the museum gremlins probably just put him in a glass case. Seriously, those guys make librarians look positively normal by comparison.

But, I digress. The secret to sneaking your music into a library is to go for a good portable phonograph. The kind that breaks apart like a sniper rifle. Once you’ve got one of these, then take your book to the corner nearest the boiler. Every library has one.

Apparently some of the trendier ones use the old books as fuel, something to do with ideological differences apparently. Anyway, a good boiler is a noisy, clanking thing that instils a deep atavistic fear in even the greenest of newbie librarians.

If you get there early enough, then you can stake out a corner, assemble your phonograph, lean into the trumpet and ride the paper highway at one hundred miles an hour. It’s like nothing else. Not only do you reach the point where you stop seeing words and just start thinking in pictures instead twice as quickly but, when you’ve gotta stop and wind-up the clockwork again, there’s usually someone interesting there too.

Someone who is reading a paperback with good cover art. Someone who spends more time on the page than in the world. Someone whose brain is like the computers that the ancients kept writing about all the time. If you’re lucky, you can pick up a few interesting Dewey Decimal numbers from them that you can pencil down and use to get into some of the better reading nooks in town.

Of course, you’ll sometimes get a hipster dweeb who will quote an ISBN number from memory, like they’ve spent so much time reading about life before the Flare that they still believe that things like databases actually exist.

But, most of the time, you’ll find interesting people near the boiler. The best one was this lady with woad blue hair who told me about this book called “Neuromancer”. I’ve never been able to find it anywhere, so I had to take her word for it.

Apparently, this was a book written before the Flare about people who use silicon machines to go into something like a reading trance. They called it “virtual reality” or something like that. Some things, I guess, are timeless.

The Joy Of… Lawless Wastelands (In Fiction)

2016 Artwork The Joy Of lawless wasteland settings sketch

Quite a while back, I was watching one of the gaming-related channels on Youtube that I watch semi-regularly, when I happened to see a few videos from a series of “let’s play” videos for a modern game based on the “Mad Max” movies.

Despite having only possibly seen one of the “Mad Max” movies when I was younger, having read quite a few of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett’s “Tank Girl” comics in my early twenties, having played the second “Jak and Daxter” game and having been seriously impressed by a second-hand copy of the “Freeway Fighter” book in Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s “Fighting Fantasy” series when I was younger, I didn’t really have a huge amount of experience when it came to stories set in lawless, post-apocalyptic wastelands (well, ones that don’t include zombies at least).

As such, the footage of the “Mad Max” game (which, unfortunately, is almost certainly too modern to run on anything that I owned) seemed surprisingly dramatic. It seemed like the kind of hilariously theatrical genre that only really existed in the 70s and 80s.

Stories set in these kinds of post-apocalyptic lawless settings are an oddly fascinating genre for a variety of reasons.

First of all, it seems like both an oddly conservative genre and yet also an oddly liberal genre too.

These are highly stylised stories where even the background characters have to be absolute badasses. They’re set in harshly darwinian worlds where only strength, prowess in combat and intelligence really matter. They’re set in worlds where your only option is to be some kind of badass outsider/loner or to join some kind of ruthless gang. So, in some ways, it’s a hyper-conservative genre.

On the other hand, they’re stories about worlds without any rules and without any authority. They’re stories where people don’t have to worry about “fitting in” or any of that kind of nonsense. They’re stories where people get to live their lives by their own rules, rather than by the expectations of others. They’re stories where the characters have absolute freedom of self-expression.

They’re stories where people discover and find their own answers about questions such as who they are and what their life means, without having to accept pre-made answers from anyone else. They’re stories where characters get to define who they are, rather than having other people tell them who they “should” be. It’s an oddly liberal genre in many ways.

Not only that, they are stories where every character is morally ambiguous enough (I mean, even in the gameplay footage from the “Mad Max” game, Max spends some of his time attacking random encampments and stealing everything there, just because he can) that it’s up to the audience to decide which characters they sympathise with.

Although a character may be set up to be a “hero” or “heroine” that the audience is supposed to sympathise with, they’re often eccentric/violent etc.. enough that there’s enough room for the audience to make up their own minds about them. In other words, this is a genre that respects the audience’s intelligences enough to allow them to come to their own conclusions about which characters to sympathise with.

Finally, these are also surprisingly versatile types of stories too. Lawless wastelands can be used as a potent source of horror (eg: in the zombie genre), they can be used as a dramatic backdrop for thrilling stories, they can be used for dark comedy or they can be used as mysterious settings for interesting adventures. They’re a blank canvas which a writer or a comic creator can use to tell whatever kind of story that they want to.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (30th July 2014)

Wow! This may well be one of the coolest paintings that I’ve ever made 🙂 Seriously, it could almost be an album cover!

Like with one or two pictures I’ve made in the past, this painting was probably inspired by this absolutely amazing Judas Priest song. I don’t know why there’s someone in Ned Kelly armour in the background though- but, as types of armour go, it’s one of the most fun to draw.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Amidst The Wrecks" By C. A. Brown

“Amidst The Wrecks” By C. A. Brown