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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Audio / Audible Book Review: The End is Nigh: Apocalypse Triptych Anthology

I really enjoyed the variety on the anticipating apocalypse theme in this engaging anthology.
Title: The End is Nigh: Apocalypse Triptych
Author: John Joseph Adams, Hugh Howey
Narrator: Mur Lafferty, Rajan Khanna, Kate Baker,
Lex Wilson, RalphWalters, Jack Kincaid,
Norm Sherman, James Keller, Anaea Lay
Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:04-08-14
Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm. But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild. THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH will tell their stories. Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey,
THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. THE END IS NIGH focuses on life before the apocalypse. THE END IS NOW turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And THE END HAS COME focuses on life after the apocalypse.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that have already burned. Apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that are burning. THE END IS NIGH is about the match.
©2014 John Joseph Adams & Hugh Howey

Overall observation: This anthology has great variety and is full of a bit of humor, a bit of horror, some bittersweet moments and lots of irony. I enjoyed all of the stories, even the horror ones which is a genre I do not generally read. These were short enough to get the point across and some left me hoping for more which I understand may exist in the subsequent anthologies where some of the stories, but not all, may be continued. All of the authors were new-to-me but I will look forward to reading many of them again. I will be picking up Book 2, The End is Now, as soon as I decide if I want to wait for the audio or get it now in Kindle format.

Audio Notes: All of the narration was well done except for one which was awful due to the narrator having a sniffling cold or some other nasal problem which nearly ruined that story. The changes in narrators helped keep the work interesting and distinguished the stories with individual and suitable voices. The audio enhanced my reading enjoyment and I do recommend this in audio format.

Individual Content descriptions and brief comments:
** Are my favorites with * being next in line.
Introduction by John Joseph Adams: Explains the concept behind the “end is nigh”, “end is now” and “the end has come”.

The Balm and the Wound by Robin Wasserman: A con-man preacher of doom is planning his retirement by pulling in the wealth of believers of God's soon coming return. This sleazy man is surprised to meet his 10 year old son, who may be a true seer. (Some foul language.) This is a brash presentation of religious preparedness with an ironic ending.

Heaven is a Place on Planet X by Desirina Boskovich: Aliens have come to earth to announce a date for destruction and deliverance. Only those who go about their lives as usual will be transported to a new life on Planet X at the hour doom. Enforcers, one out of every thousand people, are assigned to determine who violates the rules and they must  vaporize violators on sight. But can the enforcers obey the rules until the end without questioning who are these aliens that no one has seen? This story exudes conspiracies and people being led like sheep.

Break! Break! Break! by Charlie Jane Anders: This young man has been taught how to take a fall, from a roof no less, since the age of four. How many bone breaks can a boy take for stuntman training? How extreme can the videos get before you realize rebellion is crashing around you? I found this bizarre and bleak.

**The Gods Will Not Be Chained by Ken Liu: A genius mentality captured as “Ghosts in the machine” is revealed as a father protects his family through an old computer. Although the story is light on the impending doom theme, I liked this rather sweet and clever twist to artificial intelligence. I hope to read more by this author.

Wedding Day by Jake Kerr: A lesbian couple wait too late to get married while trying to arrange transportation away from an expected asteroid collision. The characters give a personal look at potentially realistic problems with an end of the world scenario. The emotional focus in this story was less interesting for me than some of the other dilemmas faced.

*Removal Order by Tananarive Due: A responsible, caring young woman disobeys orders by staying in a condemned neighborhood to take care of her terminally ill grandmother who can’t be moved. The story has a sorrowful sweetness as it presents a difficult dilemma of making a choice between caring for a loved one or seeking survival and safety.

**System Reset by Tobias S. Buckell: IT adept bounty hunters trace a hacker who plans to “reboot” the electronic systems of society. This poses a realistic, if not unique, possibility and question: which side would you support? Is the villain right or wrong? I really enjoyed the story and the questions.

*This Unkempt World is Falling to Pieces by Jamie Ford: In a 1910 setting a group of fancy, wealthy people are celebrating the end-of-the world as they expect a comet collision. The lowly staff are stuck serving instead of having their own last moments to share. But is it all a publicity stunt; a hoax? Although this is a pretty light offering, I enjoyed the writing tone and irony in this story too.

BRING HER TO ME by Ben H. Winters: This presents a strange religious cult where only one teen of the community doesn’t hear “The Voice” of God like everyone else. Will she escape or try to go with them when they do a ritual death cross-over? And what does it mean when “The Voice” tells her mother, and others: “Bring Her to Me”? Well, this story left me clueless on both questions.

**In the Air by Hugh Howey: A man is part of a group that has secret plans to survive a deadly global nano-strike. He isn’t sure if the end will really come and waivers about his choices waiting too late to tell his wife the truth and too late to make certain choices. This raises questions of morality, integrity and survival instincts. I’d be curious to know what happens next. This is intriguing and brought this author to my attention so I will look for his other works.

*Goodnight Moon by Annie Bellet: A group in a space station orbiting the moon are faced with collision and destruction. Only a couple can escape to warn earth. This is a calm and interesting presentation of choices, sacrifice, resignation and acceptance where personal choices matter more than nationalities, age, race or other defining qualities. I liked this gentle presentation of the theme and want to read this author again.

Dancing with Death in the Land of Nod by Will McIntosh: The world is hit by a plague that paralyzes the victims leaving them with only a nodding head and the ability to respond if assisted. Johnny is already taking care of his elderly father who is experiencing dementia and who is obsessed with his dilapidated, money losing drive-in. Johnny faces a dilemma: does he avoid the plague to protect his ailing father or does he help his neighbors and risk exposure? This is a very down to earth reality and heartrending story. Unfortunately the sniffing and awkward breathing during the narration of this, particularly in the beginning, was horribly distracting.

*Houses Without Air by Megan Arkenberg: Breathable air is fading fast. Two women share their work loves with each other as the world dies. One creates delicate virtual reality computer gaming and the other is an artist who creates miniature memorials. Although this seems to be presented in a bubble world of just these two, there is a poignant analogy to the fairy-tale of The Little Matchgirl.

The Fifth Day of Deer Camp by Scott Sigler: A rough group of hunters in a secluded camp cabin step out to find aliens landed not too far off. This is rather funny in its rustic portrayal of some card playing, beer drinking, good 'ole boys and how they react to a totally unexpected danger.

Enjoy the Moment by Jack McDevitt: A scientist is struggling with establishing a principle that will get her name down in history. As a substitute she decides to try to find a new comet that can be named after her. Her husband is content to live each day while she stresses for achievement. Her enjoyment may be short lived as her name-sake comet approaches earth. Different human reactions, and some more irony, are portrayed in this contribution.

Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through by Nancy Kress: A few years have passed since a large volcanic eruption in Indonesia left falling ash as far as New York. There is a mystery regarding unknown elements in the ash particals. Meanwhile a mother struggles to raise her two daughters, the elder ever a trouble maker. But now mom is called in because the younger child has created a concern within her teacher for being too much of a pacifist. Mother watches the children and their classmates puzzling over the differences. Could there be a connection? A very subtle tie-in for the reader to pull together made this a little odd but interesting.

Spores by Seanan McGuire: Megan who suffers from OCD works in a bio lab where she is acutely aware of smells and cleanliness. Her wife, Rachel and their daughter, Nikki, have learned to live with and watch for symptoms of the OCD attacks. Megan returns home one night to find a moldy dish of fruit in the kitchen. She struggles to deal with it without lapsing into a full blown attack. However during the night a terrible thing awakens her and she has to face a man-made fungus growth gone wild. Eek! This is a very eeire tale and the OCD adds an interesting factor.

*She's Got a Ticket to Ride by Jonathan Maberry: John Poe is a man sent in to rescue the misled from dangerous cults. Sometimes the results are satisfying but sometimes they are tragic. This time he encounters a girl who is of age and answers ever question with a reasoned response. Does he have the right to drag her away from the choice she has made because the parents are afraid of losing control of her money? Who is right? What are the choices and who gets to make the choice for others? Well done to put the reader in an introspective mood.

**Agent Unknown by David Wellington: A senior agent for the CDC is tracking people who are showing symptoms of a zombie-like infection. The immediate reaction of law enforcement is to kill the monsters but the agent is trying to bring back infested subjects for research by the CDC authorities who are seeking a cause and a cure. The agent has concerns for the methods of research but even more concerns when facts about the infection reveal a potential long term threat. I haven’t read a lot of zombie stories but I liked the progression of this and the humanity of the agent. I’d like to read more of this author.

Enlightenment by Matthew Mather: Effie is an unhappy, overweight, introverted young woman. She has been attending church meetings looking for a place to belong or looking for love. She meets a charming young man with a bionic arm who appeals to her intellect and encourages her to join him on a deeper search for enlightenment and fulfillment. She is initially appalled but slowly is seduced to a twisted perversion of sacrifice. This is one of the horror tales which I found mostly gruesome and repugnant. It is not really my cup of tea.

*Shooting the Apocalypse by Paolo Bacigalupi: The shooting in this story is with a cameraman and a determined journalist. Timo gets the hard, gritty and sometimes shocking photos while he pulls in Lucy to write the stories to reach the people. They live in a country where water has become a protected commodity and states and communities have set up barriers to prevent traveling over boundary lines. As they begin a story with a bizarre murder scene they discover a larger problem that will impact many readers. This was a bit of an odd beginning but a great punch at the end. My early journalism background made this more interesting for me.

Love Perverts by Sarah Langan: An astroid is heading towards earth and only a limited number of people will receive a ticket to safety. Tom, an introverted teen, and his outrageous and sometimes abusive friend, Jules, face the oncoming collision with different attitudes: she is partying and he is angry. What will a young, gay, teen boy do to get a ticket to be with his little sister so he can protect her from the parents that would reject and abandon him? This is an interesting commentary on the meanings and nature of ‘love’.

I am pleased to have received this title from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox. The comments are my honest thoughts.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the anthology.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Scott. It was hard to give a good picture of each story without getting way too long. Your story was very believable and added amusement for me. I thought the narration for it was spot on.
      Hope I read more about the deer camp in the next volumes.


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