NEWS: Doomsday: Don’t Go See It Even if It’s the Last Movie on Earth

As the editor of a post-apocalyptic anthology and someone who is generally considered to be something of an expert on the subject, I feel it is my duty to provide this public service announcement in regard to the recently released film Doomsday. It is, quite simply, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a quick synopsis, in case you’re not familiar with it already: There’s a massive plague in England, which is contained by sealing off Scotland along Hadrian’s Wall. Thirty years later, the virus starts showing up in the rest of England, so a team is sent into the quarantine zone to search for a cure among the survivors.

Okay, but here’s the thing. Almost nothing that happens in the movie makes sense. None of the SF elements are thought out at all. There’s tons of cliches such as the idiotic post-apocalyptic biker punk society that arises inside the quarantine zone, who for some reason turn to cannibalism even though there are, inexplicably, so many cows wandering around that when the "outside" team enters the quarantine zone they run them over with their tanks. It’s like director Neil Marshall surveyed all of post-apocalyptic fiction and film, took all of the worst elements from each of them and threw them into this movie.

It’s just absolutely abysmal. You just might find yourself wishing the end of the world would come just so you wouldn’t have to sit through another second of this pathetic excuse for a movie.

Trust me: Don’t waste your money. Hell, don’t even go if you get in for free–life’s too short.

NEWS: Dragon Page interview

I was interviewed on The Dragon Page podcast. I talk about a variety of things, which Dragon Page sums up: "John tells us about acquiring the stories (including one by Stephen King), putting the collection together, and what appeals to and attracts him to post-apocalyptic fiction. Discussion ranges from the inspirations and influences of post-apocalyptic stories, to the extensive website that accompanies the book, and the joy of acquiring a Stephen King story."

Go listen!

NEWS: SF in NJ: SFABC & SFSNNJ events

On Saturday I spoke at the Face the Fiction event, presented by the Science Fiction Society of Northern New Jersey. Which reminds me that I never posted a report of my speaking engagement at the Science Fiction Association of Bergen County’s  monthly meeting.

See my personal blog’s entry for the full run-down of those two events.

Wastelands Favorite Story Poll

Over on my personal blog, I’ve posted a favorite story poll for Wastelands. So if you’ve read the book already, pop over and cast your vote!

Ideomancer Interview

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.

Another Wastelands interview

Post-apocalyptic site The Quiet Earth just published an interview with me about Wastelands. 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.