2013 Zombie Awareness Month
Read by Lee Ann Howlett
Length: 5 Hrs
Quick Thoughts: Exponential Apocalypse reads like it was written by an acid tripping Cory Doctorow after a Futurama marathon from a compound in the post-Skynet Appalachian mountains. I had a lot of fun with Exponential Apocalypse, and you may too if you enjoy absurdly absurd apocalyptic tales with robots, zombies and superhero squirrels.
Perhaps shockingly to many of you, I am not one of those snooty guys who lives and breathes by the classics. Sure, I enjoy the classic ways to bring about the utter destruction the world as we know it but I am open to variety. I know many of you out there scoff at the idea of an apocalypse, like it will never happen. I mean, things like The Black Death and The Dark Ages are truly fictional constructs. Yet, I assure you, Apocalypses come and go in all sorts of variety. Hell, humanity has been an apocalypse to the many extinct animals that used to grace this world. So, I love all sorts of end of the world catalysts from the classics like plagues, zombies and socio-economic crashes to less traditional causes like, say, nano-mutated flesh eating moth hybrids who borrow through our many faceholes, lodge into our brains and take over our fine motor control. Even within the subgenres of apocalyptic fiction, I like varieties. Why settle for robots, when we can have nanabots, macrobots, androids, cyborgs, AI, and demon possessed mechanic constructs designed to look like Justin Beiber (true story)? Why just worry about Romero Shambling zombie ghouls when we can prepare for fast zombies, smart zombies, Zombie cows, Llombies, zonkies and zoats? What I do find far fetched is the idea of a single apocalyptic event. Sure, if a significantly sized asteroid strikes our planet we’re screwed, but I think it’s more likely that the apocalypse will come about due to economic factors rising from robotic augmentation, radical moderate terrorists upset with the polarized nature of national discourse and the crazy government lab dude trying to create genetically modified humans able to survive an asteroid strike by fusing their DNA with octopuses. And don’t even get me started on the wrath of angry gods who feel marginalized due to the changing realties of world religion and science. Really, don’t. Oh, you did. Crap.
Ever since science once and for all won the war against religion, Thor, the Norse Lighting god now proven to not exist, has been working at a Holiday Inn. With the world going through a perpetual series of 22 Apocalypses causing major shifts in the reality of the world and minor annoyances, Thor continues his uneventful non-existence delivering pillows, bantering with his coworker and dealing with the underground dwelling Hollowmen. When Aztec god Quetzalcoatl attempts to seize the control of the world, the remnants of the government calls on Thor to assassinate the snake god with the help of some escapees from a lab experiment, a few surviving former world leaders clones and his coworker Catrina. Exponential Apocalypse reads like it was written by an acid tripping Cory Doctorow after a Futurama marathon from a compound in the post-Skynet Appalachian mountains. This is both awesome, and just a bit disconcerting. The book is funny as hell at times, while also making you groan. Just when you begin to think author Eirik Gumeny couldn’t get more bizarre, corny or just plain absurd, he goes and tells a sentient rope joke. Truly, my experience was full of good laughs at well designed comedic moments, and some bad laughs of "Holy shit, what is wrong with this dude." That being said, I utterly loved this world populated by every single thing that science can do amped up on meth, including zombies of all species, robots of all variety, strange muties and werewolves and mutie werewolves dancing in the entrails of his victims singing nursery rhymes. The story isn’t always so coherent, but it’s full of so many awesomely strange characters and weird situations that it didn’t need to always make sense. At times it had the feel of some strange man who sat down at his computer, and thought "What the fuck, I can write a novel!" in good and bad ways. Exponential Apocalypse may be the strangest novel I have read since The Sugar Frosted Nut Sack. It’s really hard to recommend it to people, unless their brains have the twisted, apocalyptically marinated style of dementia that I wallow in everyday. I had a lot of fun with Exponential Apocalypse, and you may too if you enjoy absurdly absurd apocalyptic tales with robots, zombies and superhero squirrels. Oops, I may have forgotten to talk about Timmy. Fuck it, just read the book.
My reaction to Lee Ann Howlett’s narration of the book was similar to my reaction to the story, at times awesome, at times a bit disconcertingly awkward. Her reading of the prose took me just a bit to get used to. She has a odd southern fried tone to her reading that at first I found weird but slowly I began to really like. It was different and unique, and not always fitting but always interesting. I loved most of her characters. She pulled out some really cool voices, fitting them well to the characters. Strangely, my least favorite of her characters was Thor. He was sort of surfer bland, which was appropriate to the character, but tended to be outshined by the peripherals. There were a few little writing quirks that probably come off better in the print, were the eye can sort of skim over, but in the audio became a bit annoying. There was one “Are we there yet” scenes that went on a bit long and some constantly used titles to names that impacted the flow of the story, but Howlett did a good job minimizing the annoyance, while at times making them kind of fun. Howlett’s performance and the production had a rawness to it that I thought worked well, but I think others may get tired of. Yet, I think if you can push through some small frustrating moments, Exponential Apocalypse is worth the listen.
Note: Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this title for review.
Note #2: The summary of the sequel Dead Presidents mentions Rhinos with lasers.