Tag Archives: apocalyptic

In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary by Frank Wu

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: November 2016 in Analog (you can read it for free at the link provided)

Genre: apocalyptic science fiction

Length: 14 pages

Setting: a remote island miles off the coast of Hawaii, present day into the future

Summary: Our narrator, Karl 3478, is an AI submersible that is designed to observe and collect marine life. He also is in love with Adeline, the professor that runs his research program, and parses her emails to him to the utmost, looking for her love in return. He also researches her every whim, including octopuses near his island. After several years of research, he loses contact with Adeline and only realizes there was a global catastrophe after heading back to Hawaii. He decides to change his programming slightly and help the octopuses thrive in the sea, now that humanity is gone.

Final thoughts: I was impressed with this story in several ways. First off, I was impressed with the amount of biological knowledge included in the story. I have a background in marine biology, and all the species and descriptions woven into the story checked out in my head. Also, the story kept morphing into something else. It started out as an AI/human love story (and Karl’s reading innuendo into Adeline’s emails was highly amusing). Then, it became an apocalyptic story as Karl couldn’t contact anyone and found various radioactive sites in the ocean. Then, at the very end, we see a choice to uplift the octopus species he’d been observing, and taking a more active role in the ocean. Each of these changes were organic and logical, and added depth to the story.

Title comes from: Since Karl was an AI (based on the personality of one of Adeline’s grad students), it was a rationale he used for himself in making decisions.



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The ZOMBEE Project by Allison Mulder

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: March 2, 2017 in EscapePod (you can either read or listen to the story for free at the link)

Genre: science fiction

Setting: near future, the United States Continue reading

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Grey Goo and You by Derek Austin Johnson

Published: 2013 in Rayguns Over Texas

Genre: science fiction

Setting: Lincoln, Nebraska, near future

Interest: I was provided a copy of the anthology and I’m slowly reviewing all the stories in it. Continue reading

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Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Length: 881 pages

Setting: between the Earth and the Moon, near future and 5,000 years later

Interest: It’s Stephenson’s newest book. I’ve loved several of his other books (like Reamde and Snow Crash) so I knew I’d eventually get around to this one. I had it on my Kindle so it made a good book to read while on vacation. Continue reading


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Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Published: 2014

Genre: YA apocalyptic fiction

Length: 461 pages

Setting: Various points on Earth, present day

Interest: I’d heard a podcast with James Frey (from The Guardian’s Books podcast) where he discussed the book and the puzzle that is integral to the story. If you are the first one to solve the puzzle, you can win $500,000. It sounded intriguing.

Summary: There are 12 Lines of people spread around the Earth, waiting and preparing for Endgame. You can only participate in Endgame if you are between 13 and 20 years old. Twelve meteorites hit the Earth near the Players of the 12 different lines, and Endgame has begun. They need to be the best and find the first key that has been revealed. There are also links to online content sprinkled throughout the book.

Final thoughts: While the premise of the book sounded interesting, I could not get into the book. I didn’t even make it the customary 50 pages before giving up. The plot is nothing new – the end of the world is upon us and only the 12 specially chosen Players (one from each line) have the potential to save humanity from destruction. The different lines are working against each other, though, trying to be the sole winner. It was the tone of the players that I just couldn’t handle. There’s quite a variety of ethnicities involved, but they each seemed whiny or obnoxious.

It didn’t help that the book was visually annoying as well. There’s no indents on paragraphs, but there’s no space between paragraphs either, so it all just looks like it’s been left justified and squished together. Guess I’m too old to read the book. Mr. Curiosity said he’ll try it. We’ll see if it appeals to him better than me. I never even checked out the online content, mainly because when I’m reading, I don’t have a computer nearby. Nor do I want to stop reading to look something up, even if it is extra material relevant to the story or puzzle.

Title comes from: It’s the first book in the Endgame series where the players are called together for the first time.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since I didn’t finish the book.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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