A Genre Of Despair

As much as I love a good zombie movie or book — and I most definitely do — by and large it’s a genre of despair. The zombies always break into the stronghold, the humans always attack each other, and most characters just die. All the struggles are pointless, and no one achieves anything.

Contrast that with the following quote from John Ringo’s second “Black Tide Rising” zombie novel, To Sail A Darkling Sea.

The picture started with a shot of the earth’s surface, by night, dated the day the Plague was announced. There were more as the plague progressed and the sparkling strands of light slowly began to turn off, portion by portion, Africa went before South America went before Asia went before North America went before Europe until the entire world was cloaked in pre-industrial darkness. Then the shots zoomed down, pre-Plague satellite and file images of New York, Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, filled with people and life and laughter, the cities bright by day and night with a billion incandescent and fluorescent and neon and LED lights proclaiming to the heavens that Here Was Man.

Then the same cities, in satellite shots, with streets choked with decaying vehicles, and raven-picked bodies, and infected roaming the deserted streets.

A world cloaked in darkness.

The somber music swelled as a single satellite passed over India, then Africa, picking out shots of dead Mumbai, Cairo, Casablanca, then paused and seemed to shift, zooming in and in and in . . . On a single point of light that on further zoom was a hundred ships and boats crowded into a harbor.

In all the world, there was a single point of light.

Wolf Squadron.

“Mind if I borrow this, General?” Steve asked, his eyes misty.

“Of course,” Brice said. “Pass it around. Your people need to see it. They need to understand.”

“It’s easy to curse the dark, ma’am,” Steve said. “We’ll light a candle instead.”

Again, compare that to David Moody’s “Autumn” series, which ends, literally on the last page, with one character saying “well, the human race is going extinct” and another saying “that’s probably a good thing”. And that’s it. After three novels of traveling along with his characters, vicariously experiencing their struggles, setbacks, and triumphs, we’re explicitly told that all those struggles were in vain, that the human race will die out, and that the author thinks this is a good thing.

Well, fuck you, you fucking fucker. To the trash bin with your shitty novels, and your shitty worldview.

I’ll take John Ringo’s approach any day of the week. It makes for better novels, and makes for a better life.

“The human race is going extinct, leaving the world to the ravenous undead hordes, and that’s a good thing!” My balls.

The human race struggling to overcome, beating back the undead hordes, using every ounce of our ingenuity and tenacity, and eventually winning, that’s a good thing. And a zombie novel depicting that is inspiring and exciting.

Nihilism is tedious. A hard-fought victory is exciting. Which is why “Autumn” is shit and “Black Tide Rising” is awesome.

9 thoughts on “A Genre Of Despair”

  1. Wonderful review. I love and adore John’s books (can’t keep my own copy of the Last Centurion for all the money in the world), and these absolutely rock. I read the 3rd one straight thru in 10 hours (give or take), dropped it off by my son’s apt so he can read it, then will pick it up and drop if by a friend’s house, then get it back and read it again. :D

  2. This is why I hated, hated, HATED Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars”. The first half of the book is a fairly hard sci-fi treatise on what it would take to get to Mars and create a permanent colony there. The second half of the book was a treatise on why we shouldn’t go (spoiler: because the human race is mean and selfish and will just fuck up Mars like we did Earth).

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