Under A Graveyard Sky – A Review

Under A Graveyard SkyWe don’t talk much about zombies here at Prepography… except on Halloween when the zombies come out to play… so when I heard that one of my favorite military writers, John Ringo had tried his hand at the zombie genre I couldn’t help but pick it up with an eye towards a Halloween zombie book review of Under A Graveyard Sky…but then I liked it so much I read the whole series…

John Ringo’s a military veteran and specifically a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division where I spent my first few years in the Army.  From the first time I picked up one of Ringo’s military science fiction books I found myself recognizing the characters and the conversations he wrote because that’s how we thought, talked and related back in ‘Division.’  As he developed his writing craft he expanded his vocabulary to speak the language of other services.  In this latest series, Black Tide Rising John channels his inner Marine…but more about that later.

Islands of Rage & HopeUnder A Graveyard Sky and it’s sequels To Sail a Darkling Sea and Islands of Rage and Hope (Strands of Sorrow is due out early next year) take place in an apocalyptic near future where a bioweapon has been released on the world.  This bioweapon was engineered not only to attack the U.S. but to do so in a way that plays on the terror that we’ve built into the zombie genre.  The zombies aren’t supernatural creatures or the returned dead… they’re victims of an artificially created pandemic designed to bring out the basest and most violent tendencies of the human race.  With the disease’s rapid spread throughout the world there’s no place safe even for those who are lucky enough to have received the morally questionable vaccine.

The story centers around the Smith family.  John, Stacey and their daughters Sophia and Faith are Australian born naturalized citizens and Preppers.  John was an Australian paratrooper who moved to the U.S. and became a history teacher.  Through a series of fortunate events the Smith family is able not just to become vaccinated with an experimental vaccine but also to escape to the only place that John thinks will be safe in this new world…the sea.

To Sail A Darkling SeaEventually the Smith clan comes to realize that they are the only hope for those trapped in compartments aboard the other boats and ships they encounter and begin conducting naval boarding and clearing operations to rescue the uninfected trapped behind bulkheads and secure the resources necessary to supply their ever growing flotilla of survivors.  Once they rescue a group of U.S. Marines the ship clearance ops gets even more interesting as a teenage girl must teach U.S. Marines the proper method of clearing a ship when the enemy’s only weapons are their hands and teeth.

The zombie virus phenomena is well thought out, well explained and well executed.  I didn’t find the characters in this series to be as interesting or relatable as I have come to expect from Ringo and the daughters youth  was very distracting to me (I’m not sending my teenage daughter on ship clearance ops) but the description of shipboard clearance operations was as fascinating as it was creepy.  I received some training years ago in building clearance operations and can only imagine how much more nerve racking it would be to clear compartments on ships and boats where there’s no light, no where for opponents to slip away (not that zombies try) and the use of my favorite clearance weapon, the grenade is as much of a danger to you as it is to your opponent.  I have renewed respect for Marines and Coasties!

“What happens in the compartment stays in the compartment.” My favorite line from the Black Tide Rising Series

Strands of SorrowThis is the thinking reader’s zombie series…if Robert A. Heinlein had written a zombie story, this would be it. and the first two books reminded me especially of a Heinlein tale because the same elements are there…a family forced into extraordinary circumstances, military discipline layered over family dynamics and the struggle for resources.

All in all this is a great read whether you’re a zombie genre fan or not…I can’t wait for the next installment to be published.

Romero on Trouble – Today’s Quote

In a world where the dead have returned to life, the word” trouble’ loses much of its meaning.

Dennis Hopper as Kaufman in George Romero’s Land of the Dead

Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z

Producer Brad Pitt recently released a big budget movie based on the popular apocalyptic zombie book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and starring…you guessed it, Brad Pitt.  I had a chance to see World War Z recently and have condensed the survival lessons presented down to the… Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z.

In addition to a big name cast headed by Brad Pitt as United Nations Inspector turned stay-at-home dad Gerry Lane and Mireille Enos as Karen Lane (not to mention a wonderful supporting cast for the international scenes) it has special effects so amazing that they took years to develop.

As I recall the book was written as a faux history based on oral interviews conducted after the recovery from a zombie war.  It was essentially a series of vignettes describing how different groups of survivors got through zombie plague.  Pitt’s movie draws on the environment developed by Max Brooks in his book for inspiration but is essentially a different story following Pitt’s character as he travels around the world searching for a cure to the zombie epidemic.

I’ve written before about how the proliferation of the zombie phenomenon is likely due to the fact that it’s a safe way for the average Joe to think about a collapse or TEOTWAWKI event in a relatively non-threatening way.  Think about that for a minute… with a zombie apocalypse the only thing you have to prepare for is animated corpses that don’t compete with you for resources… other than your own skin.

Warning:  Minor Spoilers Ahead

Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z (more…)

Save Us Chuck

Any student of modern American culture knows the awesomeness that is Chuck…no, not that Chuck, I’m talking about Chuck Woolery the retired game show host and patriot.  Chuck has put out a number of videos that are must see internet T.V.  His videos are insightful, funny, a little corny… some times all three at once.  Some are on topics of enormous importance to our freedoms and financial security…some are commentaries on modern society.  Check out Save Us Chuck Woolery and what Chuck has to say on topics as diverse as:

Zombie Preparedness – A Halloween Special

It seems like everywhere I look these days I see zombies.  Even the government has jumped on the Zombie bandwagon with the Centers for Disease Control’s  Zombie Preparedness Program and $1,000 per trainee Zombie Apocalypse themed counter terrorism training.   There are zombie TV shows (Walking Dead just began it’s 3rd season), zombie ‘history’ books like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, zombie comic books, zombie runs, Tactical Bleeding Zombie Shooting Targets, Zombie Garden Gnomes, Zombie Foot Dog Chew Toys, Zombie Gun Cleaning Systems, and I even saw a Zombie Family Decal on the back of a mini-van last week.  Ask most people what their zombie apocalypse survival plan is and you’ll actually get an answer…that they’ve thought through.  In this Halloween edition of Prepography we’ll discuss why I think everyone’s talking about zombies and what zombie preparedness is really about.  (more…)

Its Own Key – Today’s Quote

…don’t knock it, it’s got its own key.

Roger in George Romero’s 1978 classic film Dawn of the Dead discussing Spam®

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