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8.19.2009

The Sound of Crickets on the Breeze

Florida's filled with night-time sounds. From screaming cicadas to the lullaby lilt of whip-poor-wills, the peninsula has its own beautiful midnight sonata.

Which makes me feel bad that there are so many crickets chirping around these parts.

My lack of attention, dear blog and faithful readers, pains me.

I enjoy talking fiction and storytelling and news stories and life, but all those things have conspired against me of late when it comes to spare time, I'm afraid. I've been writing fiction lately, pouring myself into a project that is strongly straddling the border between classic noir and fantasy. Call it spec-noir with a side of horror and that's about it. A crazy salad, to be sure...

Work is cranking. With a full-time summer schedule and this being finals week, I feel like I'm stealing time even writing this. Add to the workload all the rigors of putting together a competitive packet for potential admission to a great graduate school and I'm treading water.

Plus, I'm blessed with a pair of amazing ladies. I don't do much in the evenings but spend time with Lyla and my patient and wonderful wife, Jeanne.

No more belly-aching about my lack of inattention at the blog, though. I wanted to share with you three fantastic speculative tales that I've looked at recently that deal with apocalyptic narratives of confinement.

I've written in the past about the superb novel High Rise. J.G. Ballard's 1975 look at technology, community and devolution is a caustic and turbulent narrative--a "not-so-nice" tale of how our perception of utopia is ultimately a facade.

How about Stephen King's 1980 novella "The Mist"? I love that the surviving protagonists are sequestered in one of modern culture's safest and, typically, most sanitary places: a modern grocery store. King's piece is an indictment of both formal religion and nuclear testing, all set against a backdrop as accessible as the corner store.

The third in this trilogy of apocalyptic isolation is George Romero's underrated 2005 film Land of the Dead. This film provides the most explicit form of isolation--living, wealthy survivors spend their time and money in a high rise (huh, right?) fortified by walls and razor wire. They have access to the same goods that were popular before the apocalypse, spoils of expensive raids in the zombie territories, at exorbitant prices.

But they're willing to pay. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Meanwhile, outside the high rise, poor normals struggle in a life whose economy has unalterably shifted in the face of the zombie dilemma.

These are three awesome tales. You could do a heck of a lot worse in a weekend than knocking them out back-to-back-to-back...

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