Ageless immortals, the Timeless are compelled by instinct to behead each other and absorb the loser's power. If this sounds familiar you've no doubt seen the Highlander. The Heartstrike Chronicle is unapologetic fanfic of the Highlander television series written by the bestselling author of Urban Shaman. There's the good natured immortal warrior, Irish in this case, and a woman who watches and reports on him to the Keepers. There is also an unbelievably ancient and powerful immortal, Lohren, who has largely passed unnoticed since the 11th century and is currently a Keeper named Logan Adams. Lohren is amused to hear that a woman claims to have found the ruins of Atlantis, but shocked to find that she is Ghean, the woman he loved and lost when that island sank. Its certainly not a happy reunion. She's definately crazy but if she takes Lohren's head it could be called justifiable homicide.
Clay's group of survivors is a dysfunctional bunch for sure, yet they keep everyone alive and they continually grow in number. Clay rules through intimidation and he is not afraid to kill his own people to make a point, yet he is reasonable when compared to some other members of his leadership group. The most unstable of that bunch, Ronny, is far worse than Clay and has been pushing for the group to move to Jackson for quite a while now. Ronny claims to have knowledge of farms and a stable food supply in Jackson, but of course his real motivation is his desire to get revenge against Sergeant Gibbs for the ass kicking he received in the gunfight back in book two. When Ronny finally manipulates things to convince Clay to move everyone north, they arrive in Jackson only to find that there is no food in the city. This sets up the final showdown between Clay's well armed group of scavengers and the members of the Jackson Commune, a much smaller group of people with barely enough food for themselves.
Commune Book 2 ended in a brutal gunfight and now it is time to find out the repercussions of that fight. Two new groups of survivors are now in the mix, one of them from that aforementioned gunfight, and both groups plan to do what it takes to ensure the survival of their people. On display are 3 completely unique approaches to re-establishing civilization and it is inevitable that these different philosophies clash with each other. Unfortunately for Jake and company, the Jackson Commune is the smallest of the three groups by a large margin and there is strength in numbers. When things get tight even friends can become foes and supplies are drying up everywhere.
Book 2 of the Commune series starts off with a warning up front about strong language and a new character that is the source of that language, Sergeant Gibbs. Gibbs is a former marine that brings a whole new element to this series with his personality and his skill set. The foul mouth marine finds himself shepherding around a rag tag collection of survivors and quickly discovering that his willingness to protect these people in the apocalypse is a heavy burden to shoulder. Things go from bad to worse for this new group of survivors until they meet up with Jake and this is when things get real difficult. Winter is approaching in Wyoming and there is not enough food to go around for a bunch of new people, so Jake and Amanda must decide if it it is worth sacrificing their humanity in order to survive...
Yet another entry in the crowded genre of apocalyptic story telling, this series starts off with humanity being hit by a double whammy. First "the flare" occurs which brightens the night sky and wipes out most electronics. This causes the most developed nations to focus on restoring communication and travel first, and just as these start to come back online humanity finds itself hammered by a deadly plague that wipes out most of the population. Those lucky enough to be immune to the disease find themselves in a broken world that is mostly uninhabited, and they must now find a way to survive. This story is about three of those people and what they must do to survive. Jake, Billy, and Amanda all feel like real people, and their stories are definitely worth hearing.
In the 23rd century rising oceans and diseases that rapidly mutate have become a real threat to both humans and food crops, and only the offerings of the calorie companies have kept humanity alive. These hated corporations use genetic hacking techniques to produce food crops that grow for just a few generations before the diseases adapt and wipe them out, and they use their food as leverage over everyone. Willing to do just about anything to obtain new seed stock to give them an advantage these companies have private armies and almost unlimited funding. Thailand has done its best to stay autonomous from such companies, but Bangkok is a drowning city where tensions between government factions are rising. AgriGen sees this as an opportunity to acquire access to Thailand's coveted seed vault and a simple windup girl finds herself at the center of this coming storm.
The author of the gunpowder fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns is back and his new series is about a few hundred magic gifted teenagers stuck in an ancient ship with a wide variety of monsters that want to eat them. The kids were all offered to the ship as "tribute", including Isoka who's government told her to bring the ghost ship back within the year for their use or they would throw her sister into a brothel. Even though Isoka is an adept who's magic comes from Melos, the Well of Combat, she has little hope of conquering a bazaar ship and its unknown crew. Her magic has always made her the deadliest in a fight, but now she is one of the least experienced fighters in a brutal fight for survival. No one knows where the ship came from, why the captain wants the mage born in the first place, or what the captain plans for the future.....if they have a future.
Tomorrow War is another short book from 22 year military veteran J. L. Bourne, but unlike Day by Day Armageddon there are no zombies this time around. In this story the zombies are replaced something far scarier - other humans and a dysfunctional government. Keeping a similar journal format to the Day by Day series, the main character, Max [Redacted], writes down his experiences as a form of self therapy to help him cope with the things he decides that he must do to survive. Max is a trained killer working for the US government when it all goes to hell and he must live with the fact that his last covert mission is the root cause of the financial collapse that ruins society as we know it.
The war has spread and it now consumes the entire solar system. Blood and violence are pervasive as the fledgling Republic tries to hang against those who oppose it. Many want to return to the old color based society while others view this conflict as an opportunity to rise to power, so there is no shortage of combatants available. Like the last book, Iron Gold, this story is told from the perspectives of the same PoV characters (plus Mustang this time) and each of them experiences this conflict from a different location within the solar system. With such a complicated set of battles it will take you some time to get your bearings, especially if it has been a while since you read the last book, but once you get everything sorted out this is another wild ride in a series that remains surprisingly compelling.
I enjoy books that deal with the fall of civilization as we know it. Be it nuclear war, zombies, aliens, an EMP or a virus, each story provokes the same questions for me: What would I do? Could I survive in this new world? Would my morals be tossed aside when my survival hangs by a thread? That is what makes the genre so interesting to me. Earth abides approaches the fall of civilization in a very different and laid back way. Mankind is practically wiped out overnight and the world becomes a lonely place for the few survivors. There is no gigantic battle or war as a back drop for this tale, nor is there any real lingering threat from the contagion that practically eliminates the human race. Rather it is a theoretical tale of what would happen to the earth if you took humans out of the mix. Is that a worthy premise?