Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Remnant: Into the Collission: A Review

P.A. Douglas' The Remnant: Into the Collision is an apocalyptic novel set during and slightly after a (anticipated) meteor shower makes the earth borderline uninhabitable.  The action follows a couple of small groups in the area of Little Rock, Arkansas.

P.A. Douglas is self described as an author of several horror novels living in Southeast Texas.  He appears to focus on apocalyptic scenarios of the somewhat fantastical variety, with this one being pitched in a more "realistic" tone.  This novel was published through Permuted Press, which specializes in fanatically themed (zombies being typical) horror-apocalypse novels.

Byron Russo is hanging out, watching the end of the world on television, when a biker type crashes through his front window and forcefully forces himself into action.  Byron will wander around town a bit and be picked up by a mixed group of folks who are looking to survive in peace.

The other story line follows a group of low level Arkansas National Guardsman who see the chaos as an excellent way to become feudal overlords specializing in rape and murder.  They are evil in the most comic bookish sort of way.

Obviously the two groups will meet up.  The different twist with this novel is that the huge burn off of vegetation has also burned off much of the worlds oxygen.  This process is sufficient to where, survivors who don't find a way to supplement the natural oxygen levels, slowly turn imbecilic.  Which sounds like a great way to get a zombie story, but that doesn't happen here.  Needless to say our two groups are the local ones who find a way to keep breathing.

And, I think that is enough of the story line.  Much of the story is the interactions of the small group of good-guy survivors, and them working out their living conditions, and (remaining) aspirations.  Because they are such an odd collection of folks, I am not sure many people will be able to relate to their personal situations, but at least it is an effort to flesh out the characters.  This is offset though by the completely over the top evil of the National Guardsmen.  They are so one-dimensional as to be boring.  They are somewhat reminiscent of pre-70s pulp novels, having that element of soft core murder-porn - lots of discussion of sex, but no graphic description, and lots of graphic violence.

For myself, I found the process to be tedious.  You are essentially waiting for the two groups to collide and to see how it all shakes out.  Who will survive?  Well you get your collision, and while it does get stretched out a little, the resolution is a lot more straightforward than one would have thought for all the buildup.  The whole process lacks a buy-in.  It all just seems too set up.

We now come to our two descriptive (not qualitative) ratings: 1 to 7 with 4 the mid-point and 7 high. Realism does not include the cause of the collapse or apocalypse, but is otherwise an assessment of how close to today's world is the setting. Could you imagine your friends, or families living through the situation. Readability is not literary merits, but literally how quick and painless of a read.

Realism? On some levels there is a concern for food, water, and air, but not at a really detailed enough level where you think the author actually has a clue as to what would be involved.  It's a pretty common problem within the catastrophe genre.  Since you cannot have the audience just use their built in assumptions about how the world works to fill in the missing details, you have to provide a lot more information about the environment.  But most folks really aren't all that well experienced, or read, about how society works.  An author taking their television-learned life experiences and translating them into the written word is bound to get you a pretty shallow experience.  And that is what I think is happening here.  You have fuzzy television level of realism, interspersed with "character-developing" dialog.  So how 'real' is 'fuzzy real'?  I am going to call it 4.

Readability is tough. Supposedly this is an action filled adventure.  But boy is there a lot of musing and dialog breaking up the action.  I kept loosing steam and putting the book down.  It took me a long time to get this one read (a month?).  Still it is a fairly straightforward story.  Call it a 4.


Stephen said...

That's what I like about your reviews...simple and to the point, which I very much enjoy. I'll pass on this one. Thanks.

russell1200 said...

Stephen: I saw that you were getting active again. You even went to Church! Hope your feeling well. LOL I have read a lot worse, but I just can't imagine which audience would be interested in this one.

PioneerPreppy said...

Doesn't sound like one that would appeal to me.

russell1200 said...

Pioneer: Unless you have a fondness for (blandly portrayed) somewhat close geographic proximity.