Review blog Stainless Steel Droppings has a rave review of Wastelands, giving it a 4.5/5 rating. The reviewer says: "Editor John Joseph Adams’ collection of 22 stories, representing a wide-variety of post-apocalyptic scenarios from some of the field’s most prolific authors, is a must-have volume for fans of the this subgenre of science fiction. What makes Wastelands great, however, is that it contains the type and caliber of stories that should appeal to those who are simply fans of the format and are unsure of their feelings about post-apocalyptic literature." He also provides detailed commentary on each of the stories (with letter grades), singling out contributions by George R. R. Martin, Cory Doctorow, and David Grigg as being worth of A+ ratings.
Ideomancer has a looooong interview with me by Sean Melican, in which we talk about Wastelands, post-apocalyptic fiction and film, football, and death metal, among other things. Here’s a snippet:
SM: All right. You must explain folk metal. Killswitch covers the Kingston Trio? Metallica meets Joni Mitchell?
JJA: Folk Metal is, according to Wikipedia, a fusion of folk music and metal. I don’t really know much about folk music, so that doesn’t help me much, but I do like the results. The bands I’ve been listening to—Enisferum, Korpiklaani, Turisas, and Wintersun—are all from Finland. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure why these particular bands are labeled folk metal, as most of it doesn’t seem that dissimilar from a lot of the other metal I listen to, but exploring bands in that sub-genre has worked out for me so far, so I’m going to continue to do so. They sing about Vikings a lot, and swords and battle, that kind of thing. If the "folk" referred to "folklore," that would make sense, but typically in folk music I don’t think it does necessarily.
One of the bands—Korpiklaani—definitely uses some instruments typical of folk music, like the violin and accordion. Bet you didn’t know you could play an accordion in a metal band. Korpiklaani to me seems to be the most "folk" of all the bands I’ve mentioned. Their music, the tempo of it, the beats, it feels like folk to me, whereas the other bands that’s not as true. Turisas has some very epic sort of songs, like "Miklagard Overture"; it makes me think of like, Wagner or something. I could see their album "The Varangian Way" being put on as an opera—it probably jumps to mind not only because of the operatic quality of the music, but also because it’s a concept album: a story is told via the lyrics of all the songs.
Here’s a link.
Loyal readers of this blog might recall a nice review Wastelands received from The Quiet Earth a while ago. Well, now, they’ve followed that up with an interview with me. If you’re a loyal reader of this blog and are not yet sick of reading interviews in which I talk about Wastelands, (or if you’re not a regular reader), here’s a snippet:
QE: Of course the genre has become very popular with film audiences. Do you think popular cinema has helped or hindered the more literary aspirations of the genre?
JJA: I think that popularity in film always helps out the popularity of literary treatments of the same genre, and authors are rarely find anything from the realm of film to hinder their efforts at telling good stories. If anything, it probably helps, because oftentimes films–especially SF films–explore interesting concepts, but often fail to capture what’s truly great about them (or don’t think them through all the way); this results in a lot of writers writing sort of "rebuttal" stories to things they’ve seen on film.
As for post-apocalyptic film in particular, I’m not sure how big an impact it’s had on the literature. A lot of people have asked me what my favorite post-apocalyptic films are, and I’ve had a hard time coming up with a list of things I honestly think are great. There are the iconic progenitors of the sub-genre like The Road Warrior, but is it a great movie? There’s great stuff about it, sure, but it’s very flawed. And that’s true about almost all post-apocalyptic movies I can think of.
There are probably more films that employ post-apocalyptic elements or imagery, but are not primarily post-apocalyptic–what I think of (and describe in my "for further reading" appendix in Wastelands) as being of "associational" relevance to the sub-genre. I’m thinking here of films like 12 Monkeys–one of my favorite SF films of all time–which is perhaps the best portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world on film.
There’s a new film coming out (or may be out by the time this interview is published) called Doomsday. When I saw the trailer, about halfway through it, I was thinking that it had a real shot at being the best post-apocalyptic movie ever. But then the cliché post-apocalyptic punks showed up and my expectations took a serious nose-dive. I think that’s a large part of what’s wrong with post-apocalyptic cinema–too much of it doesn’t try to do anything original, and is just copying what they liked about The Road Warrior.
Go here to read the rest.
Next Saturday (March 8), I’ll be appearing at The Science Fiction Society of Northern New Jersey‘s monthly "Face the Fiction" event, where I’ll be talking about Wastelands, as well as other genre-related stuff. It’s held at the Borders located at:
Garden State Plaza, Suite 2200
Paramus, NJ 07652
If you’re in the area, please feel free to drop by! Admission is free and there will be copies of Wastelands on hand to buy and/or have signed.
Grasping for the Wind gives Wastelands a glowing review: "Wastelands is an exceptional anthology. In scope and vision it can only be compared to Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions. […] I highly recommend this anthology for anyone who enjoys reading anything. […] Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse is the best anthology of any kind I have read to date." Wow!
The April 2008 issue of Realms of Fantasy magazine, which is shipping to subscribers now, features reviews of both Wastelands and Eclipse One. About Wastelands, reviewer Jeff VanderMeer says that rather than being a depressing book, as he initially thought it would be, he "found Wastelands hopeful rather than despairing." He also found it "relevant to the uncertain times in which we live," and added that the stories "display a full understanding of the worries and real problems that might eventually threaten civilization as we know it."
Booklist, one of the publishing industry’s top trade journals, has reviewed Wastelands. Here’s a snippet: "With this well-chosen set of post-apocalyptic stories, editor Adams provides a bit of everything that is best about the trope, from bleak, empty worlds to beacons of hope in an otherwise awful situation. […] A well-chosen selection of well-crafted stories, offering something to please nearly every post-apocalyptic palate."
In addition to the overall praise given to the book, the reviewer singles out the stories by Jerry Oltion, Stephen King, John Langan, Octavia Bulter, and Elizabeth Bear. You can read the whole review on Booklist Online (free registration required).
More Wastelands coverage! The anthology is currently a "Featured Book" on MySpace Books. Here’s a snippet: "Adams is a writer, editor, and, judging from his book’s extensive bibliography for further reading, human encyclopedia when it comes to post-apocalyptic fiction. The compulsively readable stories he’s chosen for Wastelands will appeal not only to hard-core fans of science fiction but also to anyone who enjoyed recent movies like Cloverfield, I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, or Children of Men or Cormac McCarthy’s bestselling post-apocalyptic novel The Road."
MySpace Books also lists an average user rating for their featured books. Wastelands currently has a 90.9% rating. Drop by, post a comment, and give it a thumbs up!
Quiet Earth also has a nice review, giving the anthology a 9/10 rating, saying "Many of the stories go a long way to challenging our very notion of what PA fiction is. And to me this is the true nature of a great anthology."
If you had to live through the aftermath of one of the apocalypses covered in this book which one would it be?
It would have to be the apocalypse depicted in Jerry Oltion’s "Judgment Passed." In that story, it seems like the world was left in pretty decent shape after the apocalypse–no irradiated wastelands or crazed mutants to deal with, no plague to worry about. Also, no angry biker gangs plotting to steal your fuel. On the other hand, it might be a bit lonely, and it might suck if you didn’t get along with any of the few people that you were stuck on the planet with. Or maybe the one in "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth." I mean, if the end of the world comes, and the internet is still working, it couldn’t be all bad, could it?