Dark Advent by Brain Hodge
This 1988 horror novel is about a plague ravaged America. It rips off Stephen King's 'The Stand' and Robert McCammon's 'Swan Song' and it also has unexplained supernatural occurances. A crazy evil man unleashes a bioweapon plague for the fun of it. The biblical pestilence wipes out most of humanity and then just goes away so the man can war monger among the survivors. He has a ruthless pursuit of those who don't follow him.
Survivors find unlimited food, water, guns, ammo and petrol. How is there water? How are they getting water? Nobody spends much time lamenting humanity's fall and it all comes to a fateful confrontation. The devastation was fortold but there is no tragic urgency. The man/malediciton is human and he runs violently amok due to personal irritation and discontentment. He's petulant and unreasonable. There is no real open despair at the cataclysmic event. There are no diseases from unburied bodies or dirty water or gone off food or fires. There also isn't any pitch-in spirit of collaboration or creeping dread.
The bad man just stares mavolently and there is deux ex machina ending. The bad man capitalised on what was worst in people. This was okay, but I am amazed that King didn't sue.
This horror has dated references and the 'macho man hero' Jason pervs at high school girls and once pulled a gun on his boss/friend as a 'joke' and commits satuatory rape. Yet he is the grizzled hero. There is causal homophobia and a truck full of fleas that nobody finds strange. There are dated pop culture references to 'Predator', Hulk Hogan and 'First Blood'. The malicious, sly and devious baddie plots and gathers an army of followers who are rather pathetic figures. There is talk of computer transmissions not email.
There is talk of BITNET (the early internet), an Atari with a green screen and ARPANET. There is so much sexual violence. There are so many smilarites to 'The Stand', even a jail scene. Reagan is mentioned. There are rubes given to increasingly extreme lenghts to survive the horrors the book gleefully piles on. Another 'good guy' indulges in 'hilarious' sexual harassement. The good guys are on a road to disaster. The baddie has false euphoria and thinks he's making all the right choices in life. Violence is seen as the very definition of normal. Good guys hole up in a department store.
There are disposable bazookas? The baddie is absurdly enthusiastic about death and imposes horrors on others. There are no symbols of community in the aftermath. The plague isn't part of the daily conversation and this does not achieve excellence. This isn't consequential. The apocalypse is emotionally motivated by the baddie: he was bored. This was overwrought, predictable, undignified and ends on a weak note of cliche.
There are proliferations of dumbness and the good guys have no concept of danger or security. People fretfully do little to ensure their own survival. There is no fortitude of humanity. The Earth is blighted and there are no biting anxities or bitter discontents and no desperate tone. The baddies are bristlingly combative.
There is no blasted plain or decent individual actions. Nobody is saving the world from self destruction. There is no brilliant application of lies. The so so so so so so so bad man causes a brutal life. There is no unsentimental clarity. This is not an intellectual thriller. There are toxic relationships and no ethical or emotional conundrums. Surviving is a dangeorus process.
This was not intense or provocative. There is no uncompromising brilliance. Humanity is consigned to oblivion. There is chaos and flight and sexual violence and displacement. This was not a raw epic. Erika, the love interest, has shame and despair. But the hero's manpain matters more. People are collateral damage in the wreckage of America's collapse. What about the rest of the world? Nobody asks. Life was interrupted in the most brutal way imaginable.
The apocalypse was a terrible event that people seem to get over. There is no talk of birth control or babies in the aftermath of the apocalypse. This was unwieldy and there is no epic drama or baroque intensity. The baddie has ceaseless campaign of malice. This was not elegantly structured or a terrifying depiction of dark cliches. This was irritating in places. There is no warmth or decency as people face the abyss of extinction.
Good people grimly endure as the nutter imperills those who survived the plague he unleashed. Things are darkly ominious and nothing good results from the baddie's actions. The baddie and his gang are not socially harmonious. There are broken promises and the hero is terminally morose. He sees himself as one of life's victims and he has moribund grim resignation.
Society has a sort of messy disintegration. This was marginally interest and barely veiled contempt for women. This was not a searing examination of abject misery. The apocalypse is not tackled unflinchingly. People express scorn for each other. Women are dumb and men have man pain. What of the vapor trail at the end?
“Trying to elicit a little pity?”
“Living like dignified human beings again...”
“Ugly realities of the situation began to set in.”
“Did you like Boy George?”
“A dead nation.”
“Nothing and no one turned up.”
“Behold the hunter, stalking the wild tin can.”
“A man who will drag himself to the inevitable end becuase he knows he has nothing left to lose.”