There is Another Sky, by Harlow C. Fallon, reviewed by Sam Fort (apocalypsescript.com)
There is Another Sky is pleasantly refreshing post-apocalyptic tale. It is set three decades in the future, after a pandemic has wiped out most of humanity. Most of the unpleasantness associated with the collapse of civilization has come and gone, though the memories and the ghosts (real or imagined…) continue to haunt the survivors. Against this backdrop, our protagonist, Annie Barrett, an unattached 28-year-old survivor, ekes out a living by scavenging items for barter at her small store in a village called Lennon.
The first few chapters read more like a prairie tale from the late 1800s, which makes sense, given the sparseness of the population and the absence of electricity or any modern innovations. It might as well be 1880 for the citizens of Lennon. Ducks and geese are allowed to roam freely. Locals produce and trade items such as “flour, milk, butter, cheese, maple syrup, fruit, beef…” There are discussions on harvests and community meals, the seasons, and he desirability of honey.
Yet this seemingly idyllic-but-sparse community is not so isolated that trouble doesn’t come its way. Drifters do wander through town, and cause some minor mischief, but the real trouble starts when Annie and a potential love interest named Dante stumble across a young girl named Kate who is hiding in an old Air Force hanger. Their rescue of the girl brings unwanted attention to Lennon. Kate is an escapee from a very bad place not too-far away, a slave camp run by ruthless men with a ruthless leader.
It’s not long before things being to spiral out of control. The sleepy community of Lennon is not match for the enforcers of a slave camp, called “New Day,” and operated by a crazed religious despot. Annie soon becomes an unwilling pawn in the New Day’s untiring plan to recover its “property,” and perhaps to add a few slaves to the fields. At this point, the story gets much darker, with plenty of misery and brutality.
Revealing much more than this would result in spoilers. Suffice to say this is ultimately a story of good versus evil (the good citizens of Lennon vs the slavers of New Day), individual courage (Annie’s, in particular), and hope. Oh, and romance. Annie is tough and independent, but she’s also human, and the unrequited attentions of the handsome helper name Dante are increasingly difficult to resist.
There Is Another Sky reminded me of a good western, set in the near future. The pandemic that wiped out humanity provides a dirty but mostly empty slate on which survivors interact, fight to survive, explore, and fall in love. There are no armies or helicopters or zombies or MREs. It focuses not on the apocalypse, but on life afterwards, and on the world that might come, and how the few survivors are instrumental in forging that world, for better or worse.
IMPACT: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale. Review by Sam Fort, apocalypsescript.com
In the near future, three meteors - Colossus, Europa, and Nero – hurtle toward the earth. Upon impact, they release a pathogen which causes the slow, tortuous decay of the human body, ultimately turning the afflicted into “meteorwraiths.” The afflicted are not zombies. They are alive and sentient, and some are even cared for, if they’re fortunate enough to reach a charitable community of uninfected survivors.
Other ‘wraiths, finding themselves less welcome, have begun to roam the countryside in packs. The world is devolving into an “us” vs “them” world. In a world of perpetually overcast skies, where food is scarce and medicine even scarcer, the competition begins.
The story focuses primarily on the physical struggles of a group of survivors in a small English village, and the contrasting mental and psychological struggles of three Americans confined to a vast but otherwise unpopulated underground military complex in the United States.
There are some interesting things happening just on the fringes, however. Men in starched black uniforms have appeared in England, and their actions suggest that these may not be the saviors the survivors were hoping for. The American survivors are beginning to slowly loose it and are becoming a threat to one another. A quirky stranger saunters into the English with murky motives…and so forth.
There are subtle indicators in this first book that a supernatural force is at work, but I’ll avoid specifics for fear of spoilers. It reminded me a bit of the first half of Stephen King’s “The Stand,” before Randall Flagg made his appearance. Just as in King’s book, the author focuses not only on the external threats, but also the internal ones, i.e., the behavior of otherwise normal people when confronted by an unimaginable terror.
The book is crisp and tightly written. It’s a fairly quick read, at around three hours, with events unfolding at a respectable pace but never rushed. If you like your post-apocalyptic tales with a measure of humanity and soul-searching, minimum combat, and a hint of the supernatural, I think you’ll enjoy Mr. Eliot’s book.