Saturday, 9 April 2016

11:02 – We got a lot done yesterday, and are now back at comfortable stocking levels on all of our science kits. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be making up and bottling chemicals and making up small-parts bags, chemical bags, and other subassemblies that we need to build more kits.

I got email the other day from someone who said I seemed to be extremely critical of the new breed of PA fiction novelists and asked if there were any I’d recommend. Fair enough.

The problem isn’t with the classic PA novels published in the 80’s or earlier. Stuff like Earth Abides, Malevil, Lucifer’s Hammer, and so on. Those were written back when traditional publishers actually employed editors who saw to it that the books they published at least used proper English. The problem is with more recent novels, and not just the self-published ones. Traditionally-published books like One Second After are desperately in need of an editor, but publishers no longer edit manuscripts comprehensively. Most books are lucky if they get a computerized spell check.

Self-published titles are as bad or worse. Even the best of them aren’t what I’d call well-edited. But the best of them are at least readable. Among those I’d nominate for that class are:

David Crawford’s Lights Out, a massive tome that follows a group of people living in a semi-rural subdivision after an EMP takes down the power grid. Unfortunately, Crawford’s follow-up book, Collision Course, is mediocre at best.

Franklin Horton’s Borrowed World series, another post-EMP series. This one has the major characters stranded in Richmond, VA after the event, and walking back to their homes in rural southwest Virginia. Horton is a competent storyteller and writer. The first book in the series is a bit rough, but he gets better as he goes along. The third book in the series, which I’m reading now, was just released yesterday. All three are available under the Kindle Unlimited program.

Boyd Craven III’s books. (Note that there is also a Boyd Craven II, presumably his father, whose books I haven’t tried.) I started by reading The World Burns, Episodes 1-3: A Post-Apocalyptic Story, yet another post-EMP story that was originally published as three separate “books” of about 70 pages each. I almost gave up on Craven after reading only the first 10% or so of this title. It’s horribly edited, with frequent grammatical barbarisms, misused words, and so on. But, unlike many of the recent PA writers, Craven is actually a story-teller, so I kept reading. After reading that one, I decided to give one from another of Craven’s series a try, so I grabbed Good Fences: A Scorched Earth Novel, the first in that series. Craven had an editor for this one, and it shows. The editing isn’t perfect, but what minor errors remain aren’t intrusive. I’ll look forward to reading more of Craven’s titles, all of which are available under Kindle Unlimited.

Theresa Shaver’s Stranded series, four full-length YA PA novels that have a bunch of teenagers walking home to Alberta, Canada after (of course) an EMP. Shaver is another competent storyteller and writer, and the series is decently edited. All are available under Kindle Unlimited. Shaver has another series that I haven’t read yet.

Angery American’s *ing Home series, which is now up to seven books, none of which are available from Kindle Unlimited. These are the weakest of the group I’m describing here, but they’re very popular and they are better than the average recent PA novel. I probably don’t need to mention it, but they’re set in a post-EMP world.

If I ever do get time to write a PA novel/series, you can bet it won’t be post-EMP. That’s been done to death. So have pandemics, for that matter, although much less than EMP. If I do one, it’d probably be set after a 9.2 quake on the New Madrid seismic fault, cutting off the eastern US from the states west of the Mississippi.

27 thoughts on “Saturday, 9 April 2016”

  1. I don’t know if anyone else saw anything about the Google sponsored inverter design competition. I thought it was cool that somebody built a 2KW inverter that only takes up 14 cubic inches of space, but I care more about the quality of the output and the efficiency. Although I guess if it’s that small, and works for 100 hours of testing, it must be pretty efficient.

  2. If I do one, it’d probably be set after a 9.2 quake on the New Madrid seismic fault

    How about the Yellowstone Supervolcano? If you’re going for a disaster and a post-apolcalyptic world, that oughta do it.

  3. I’d like to thank whoever it was that mentioned getting a deep cycle battery locally rather than buying from Amazon. I found Menards had Exide deep cycle marine batteries on sale at much better prices than Amazon. Also Menards has a generator on sale for $199 after mail in rebate. I would think twice before running anything on it other than our sump pump, but for running our sump pump, it just might be good enough.

  4. Good list. I would distinguish between the Adult and Young Adult disaster books. There is a resurgence of teenager XXXXXXX Young Adult disaster books going on for the last four or five years. Many of them have been made into movies, more so than the adult disaster stories. The market was quite the opposite back in the 1970s.

    As far as Pandemic disasters, KonKoly’s “The Jakarta Pandemic” is just about that best that I have read in the last several years:

    There is also the young adult “Monument 14” series by Emmy Laybourne that deals with the viral disease war lab in Colorado having an event and infecting the populace.

    I really like the young adult Yellowstone Super Volcano book that I just read and have ordered the other two in Mullin’s Ashfall trilogy.

    The space alien invasion story line has been beaten to death over the last 100 years. The best of which is “Footfall” by Niven and Pournelle. David Weber also has an excellent book in “Mutineer’s Moon” but the actual invasion does not happen until the second book in the trilogy.

    The financial failure of the Dollar causing a general failure of the USA has not been worked up very well. Probably the best one that I have read is Joe Nobody’s “Holding Their Own” series. The initial book was probably dated the day it was published since its cause for the financial apocalypse is $300 per barrel crude oil in 2011.

  5. BTW, Walter Jon Williams did a disaster book on the New Madrid earthquake, “The Rift”. I did not think that highly of it as he used it to attack the South, redneck cops, and nuclear power.

    I almost forgot zombie books. My cousin did a series called “Feed” set 20 years after the zombie plague. I like it a lot but, I am prejudiced.

  6. I would guess that a lot of the self-published PA books suffer from the Mary Sue/Gary Stu disease. And equipment fetishes, as OGH has mentioned. One of the biggest book series of a few years ago, the “Millenium” series (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, et. seq.) had a lot of that. There was dang near a whole chapter about all the stuff the Girl bought at Ikea for her new apartment.

  7. Not only self-pub has that problem. It was a contributing factor to my stopping reading any recently published fiction for a decade or more unless recommended by people I trusted.

  8. “How about the Yellowstone Supervolcano?”

    Nah, I want something really bad.

  9. Huh. I’d have thought that wrecking North America and covering the entire northern hemisphere with ash was really bad, but I guess you’re aiming for really bad.

  10. “…my stopping reading any recently published fiction for a decade or more unless recommended by people I trusted.”

    Ditto. Almost all modern fiction and poetry suck rocks. All we’ve got now that meets my admittedly elitist specs are Cormac McCarthy and Pat Barker for fiction and the late George Garrett and George MacDonald Fraser likewise. As for modern poetry, I can stand the late Seamus Heaney, the late Octavio Paz and the late Joseph Brodsky. Prior to that, the so-called Modernists, like Eliot, Yeats and Pound.

    “…I guess you’re aiming for really bad.”

    “really bad” would have to eclipse “Lucifer’s Hammer,” a hit by a comet. Or be at least as bad. Like Cankles becoming the new Penthouse open-beaver centerfold, or a live pay-per view of Calgary Ted having transgender surgery. Oh wait—somebody already got it: “Trump riding Cankles like a pony.” Thanks for that, sport.

  11. Nah, I want something really bad.

    Then a Hillary for President.

    Cankles becoming the new Penthouse open-beaver centerfold

    Well that trumps me.

    I will not be going to sleep tonight for fear I will have a dream about that issue.

  12. Was a vintage, early 90’s playboy at the sale today. Not a labia in sight in the whole mag.

    My how things have changed


  13. “My how things have changed”

    I read somewhere fairly recently that P-Boy has quit doing full nudity shots of womyn in their mag. Dunno for sure, but I’d expect P-House to take up the slack thereby; are they still around? No idea.

    Speaking of mags at the stores around here; I’ve noted that Price Chopper got rid of all their gun magazines for some reason, but Hannaford’s still carries a pretty good selection. I oughta ask the mangler at the former, WTF? And the Food City market just up the road from here keeps moving their magazine rack around; didn’t see it at all the other day, I’ll take another look, ’cause last I knew they still carried gun mags. None of them stores carry P-Boy or P-House, but they have softcore stuff like Maxim and Esquire still. Amazing any of that still exists, in spite of the innernet, where billions are raked in for porn/smut.

    Spent paht of the afternoon cleaning up our living room and vacuuming the rugs/carpets. Three vacs have bit the dust here, for various reasons, but it’s a tough house; a woodstove, dawg and three cats, and us tracking in stuff all hours. Just got a Dyson Animal upright compact unit and it snapped together in about a minute and was on the job very nicely. Hope it lasts.

    I’ll hit the kitchen tomorrow and fiddle with the compost situation, after which I’ll be hauling stuff up to the attic workshop space for later assembly and configuration.

    Mrs. OFD and G-Grandma winging their way from Denver to Kalifornia and the former may be home again by next Thursday or Friday, and then Sunday we’re heading down to central MA for the week, where OFD lived and worked throughout the 1980s, when Woostah was “The Paris of the Eighties,” a t-shirt slogan back then. Mid-decade I made the jump from cop work to IT and got married, “honeymoon” split between Mordor and x-c skiing in northern NH. Second marriage “honeymoon” was on Grand Manan Island, off the coast between Maine and New Brunswick.

    Where was your honeymoon? Any of y’all do it in Moscow, like Vice-President-Elect Sanders?

  14. Some folks may recall nasty ol’ OFD ruminating about how many hadji sons of bitches may have already crossed, or be crossing, our joke of a southern border.

    Imagine if you will (cue up the very late Rod Serling) that a nation’s government has opened its most critical border to hundreds of thousands, and then millions, of people who harbor among them, dedicated and fanatic terrorists, bent on carnage and murder. And that they have done so knowingly and with malice aforethought. Do we, as citizen-subjects, then owe that government our allegiance and loyalty?

    (that’s just one of at least half a dozen scenarios that would seem to answer that question in the negative)

  15. About the books…

    I don’t read as fast as some here, but I can finish a good novel in a day or 2 if I really want to. Nothing in the PA genre published lately is good enough lately. I get hung up on the poor writing and find myself easily distracted. Poor writing is not interesting.

    After a tough slog, I go back and re-read something I really enjoyed (usually Heinlein, Niven & Pournelle, or Eddings) or read some technical article about something I find interesting. The inner workings of a locker differential and Active Directory software installation are recent topics. How to build a perfect PC even.

    Scalzi is the only recent author that comes to mind that I really enjoy, and his numbers show it. He’s a best-seller for a good reason.

    I certainly hope to see something from you – as well-edited as those in the past. I crave good books.

  16. Yep, just a handful of basic stories and myths regarding our experiences on the planet dating back to the earliest scribbling in Mesopotamia.

  17. Maybe everything goes back to Sumeria, I dont think so, but I said Richter 10 due the dystopia earthquake radioactive contamination combo.
    Disclaimer, I said it not stating you are copying an argument, it was only descriptive, FWIW my opinion

  18. I had an hour or two to ruminate about it; I was mistaken. Actual scribbling goes back to Mesopotamia, you know, the stories about how many friggin’ cubits of grain were being stored that month, etc. Then moving on to some poetry and characters like Gilgamesh. But stories are told in other than scribbling, so thus we must go back further still, to the first pixels: hieroglyphics in Egypt and WAY back before that to the cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira.

    In other words, homo sapiens sapiens has always been fascinated and absorbed by the pixels. And now everything old is new again, with that, and endless wars, and the usual tales of love and death.

  19. So total haul for the weekend-

    metal craft and shop reference books
    metal shop tools
    colman fuel
    Radioshack DX380 portable shortwave radio -$3
    Radioshack SW-100 tabletop shortwave radio – $6
    Bearcat Scanner 178XLT- $1
    Aluminum nesting camp cookwear- $3
    2x cobra FRS radios -$5

    Deals are out there, you just gotta look.


    (and while out got stuff to sell to finance all the preps)

  20. I read somewhere fairly recently that P-Boy has quit doing full nudity shots of womyn in their mag.

    Yeah, Playboy is no longer having any nudity in the magazine. They are pivoting to compete with Maxim and the like, since you can find all the nekkid ladies you want on the internet.

  21. “So total haul for the weekend-”

    Nice job, Mr. nick; as the weather warms up around here, I’ll be taking a good look around and keeping an eye out for that kinda stuff. We don’t have the population you gots down there but it’s still worth taking a ride down to the Burlap area and then out into the hinterland flea markets and yard sales. Mrs. OFD might actually come along and get a big kick out of it; she and her ancient mom are notorious bargain finders, but mostly for antique furniture and glassware. We’ve got some monster chunks of furniture in here that date back to when the house was built, nearly two centuries ago, and we had them before we moved here. Wife has also found genuine Waterford crystal worth many hundreds of dollars PER PIECE that she got for pennies.

    “…since you can find all the nekkid ladies you want on the internet.”

    Until the Grid goes down, lol. Then it’s back to that old pile of P-Boys and P-Houses stacked out in the garage or up in the attic. And/or doing what old-timers up here did all those long dark winta nights, and then ending up with eight, ten or sixteen kids.

  22. I’ve noted that Price Chopper got rid of all their gun magazines for some reason

    My local Wal*fart’s magazine rack is about a third gun mags. Go figure. Shots, pistols, rifle, tactical, you name it.

  23. My local HEB (outside of trad ladies mags and the “lad’s mags” as the Brits call them), is about 1/3 gun rags, 1/3 prepper, and 1/3 ‘trash to treasure’ mags aimed at bright women with too much time on their hands due to not being in the workforce.

    And the book rack is way over in the corner, by the pharmacy and the ‘family planning’ section.


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