Category Archives: apocalyptic fiction

This Plague of Days: My top ten favorite moments

Warning: This post has spoilers. If you haven’t read Seasons One and Two of This Plague of Days, DON’T READ THIS!

Okay? Are they out of the room so we can talk? Okay. I hope they aren’t just pretending to be asleep or listening at the top of the stairs, because here are my top ten:

1. When Jaimie hands Theo the knife.

2. The sweetness of Jack and the cookie tin full of love letters.

3. “Kryptonite.”

4. The scene in Iceland where Cameron fights his way through the Sutr-Z infected to try for the rescue boat.

5. The zombie attack on Buckingham Palace while Shiva dances to “We Want Your Soul” (plus the corgi joke.)

6. Douglas Oliver’s battle in the basement.

7. Jaimie meeting with Sinjin-Smythe in the Nexus, among the Shakespearean trees.

8. The Battle of the Brickyard and the hospital attack (a tie for bloody and epic).

9. Dayo shaming Dr. Sinjin-Smythe on the rescue helicopter out of Dungarvan, Ireland.

10. Anna’s shift from being a bratty princess to a mature young woman who sacrifices her love of her boyfriend for her family.

There are many other moments I love, of course. I’m biased, for some reason. Probably because I wrote it. Yeah, that’s probably it. However, these are the first ten scenes that come to mind when I look back on the first two seasons.

What about you?

Care to share your favorite moments? (FYI: Season 3 is still being written and revised, so what you loved from the past might get a callback in the story ahead.)

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This Plague of Days: More monsters are coming in 2014

Some of the monsters are still human. Some are zombies. Some are vampires. And a couple become something even more terrifying. This spring, brace yourself for the conclusion of This Plague of Days.

(You might even feel like a monster, too.)

~ The band is Skillet. The song is “Monster”. I recommend it. Makes me want to pump iron and destroy another world. Buy it on iTunes so you can go faster and longer on the treadmill and crush your enemies.


This Plague of Days: Excerpt from the work in progress

Just made it to another birthday and things are looking up. Revised three or four chapters yesterday and two more so far today. Some nice new reviews are up on the books. If the nice reviews are yours, thanks for your support! (Yep! Always watching!)

I actually got out of the house and had a lovely chat and coffee with friends, celebratory dim sum this morning and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty tonight. See it. It’s awesome, inspirational and aspirational and charming. I haven’t loved a movie in a long time and I love this. The stark beauty of Iceland is so striking I feel a little sorry for destroying it in the books.

The rest of the family is enjoying more time off. I’m back at the other job briefly tomorrow, but I’m trying to find the balance between spreading the work between two micro-businesses. I’m a work in progress and here’s sneak peek at This Plague of Days, also a work in progress. Revising another chapter tonight while listening to “Uplifting Pop Motivation” on Songza.

Jaimie listened to his mother curse softly as she repacked their backpacks. He heard Anna kick dirt over the last glowing ashes, burying the fire’s embers. He sensed his father had wandered off. Theo was out of sight but was never far away. 

Jaimie didn’t want to get up or even move to stretch. He’d risen too early. Now that they’d delivered the message, Genevieve and Fern would head to safety. He’d almost followed the girls when they left.

However, The Way of Things would have Its way or he’d never be allowed any rest. His father needed him and he would soon meet some of the European refugees in person.

With fewer people left in the world, it was easier to see how everyone needed each other. It was a strange paradox but, when the population was vast, more people thought they were alone. 

Before the plague, the word individualist was usually preceded by the word rugged. After Sutr-X, the accurate descriptor of individualist was the word dead.

 


This Plague of Days: What to expect in Season Three.

I am Rage. 

I am Vengeance. 

I am Death.

I am Nature.

I am what I am.

Misericordia means Mercy. That will prove ironic. 

The virus has him in its grip and the former military man is changing again. Fangs. Even more strength and even greater speed. He’s much more dangerous than he was as a human, of course, but now he’s grown more dangerous than any other vampire, including Shiva. 

Season One was humans versus the Sutr-X plague and other humans and those infected with Sutr-Z (as in zombie.)

Season Two was humans versus zombies versus vampires.

Season Three?

Season Three begins with a blind woman and Batman. Yes, you read that right. The Europeans land in Newfoundland to meet a princess and a monk. Yep, I know it’s strange, but I’m tricky. Trust me. This will work.

Season Three is real world strife.

Vampires versus vampires and humans versus vampires. Whales will play a strategic part in the war. Another character, besides Jaimie Spencer, will communicate directly with The Way of Things and we’ll discover why the whole truth is hidden, even from Jaimie Spencer. We’ll find out what The Last Cafe really is. Unexpected allies will rise and fall. Terrible sacrifices will be made. Realizations will hit and armies will clash in epic battles. Vengeance will be claimed.

Season Three is War.

There is still a secret hidden in plain sight in Seasons One and Two. No one has guessed it yet.

All will be revealed, and concluded, in Season Three.

 


This Plague of Days: Christmas is saved!

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Let the Christmas shopping begin! Yeah, that's right! Shop here because when I do my Christmas shopping it's at the Dollar Store! Yeah!

Let the Christmas shopping begin! That’s right! Shop here because when I do my Christmas shopping it’s at the Dollar Store! Yeah!


This Plague of Days: Stress, The Apocalypse and You

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall i...

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall in Louisiana, as seen by NWS New Orleans radar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a fascinating (and mean) experiment. A mad scientist made his subjects do math problems under stress. Loud music would play and a demanding experiment operator insisted the subject solve the math problems faster. Then the operator would tell them they got it wrong and had to try again. “Time’s was running out!” Sounds like an experiment designed by the Devil himself, huh? Mathphobics would burst aflame under such evil circumstances.

After the experiment, the mad scientist drew blood samples to track stress markers. He found them, of course, but it was the next version of the experiment that got really interesting. In Math In Hell Part II, the subjects had a button that could turn down the blare of acid rock (the most anti-mathematics music there is). It is no surprise that the stress markers went down in the second experiment.

That’s not where the surprise comes in. It’s this:

Stress markers decreased even among the people who didn’t turn down the music. The subjects had a button, but it may as well have been hooked up to a toaster. Simply knowing they had the option to control their environment brought their stress hormones down. It’s all about the illusion of control and the wear and tear and tears that illusion helps mitigate. 

But when the apocalypse comes, there is no button!

What fascinates about end-of-the-world scenaria is, what happens when there are no rules? When someone’s breaking into your home and the cops aren’t coming…well, bad example. That happens now. However, my point is, we all seek control, even if, perhaps especially if, it’s illusory.

To a large extent? Control is an illusion and the button isn’t really hooked up. Maybe you can control how you react to stress, but lots of the time, life happens to you. You don’t choose your parents or your country of birth or how smart you aren’t. Nobody feels much control sitting in a paper gown on a doctor’s examination table when the doc sighs and says, “Hmmmm.”

But how long will the inertia of our civilization last?

When disaster is cataclysmic, the rules change quickly. That’s Hurricane Katrina. But when the pandemic creeps in slowly (as it does in Season One of This Plague of Days — at least in the American theater of teh pandemic. Europe and the rest of the world get it in the shorts first.)

How will society break down from civilized expectations to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome + The Walking Dead + 28 Days Later + Gigli?

Drones, robots, zombies: We’ve all had jobs that made us feel like we are taking up space, have no will of our own and are out of control. Our stress levels are largely tied to issues around locus of control. When the rules are gone and the economy falls apart and we’re all out of work, however, it won’t be a libertarian freedom fantasy. It’ll devolve into cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and supper. And no wi-fi!

That’s why we’ll need people who remember their humanity even when there are no rules imposed by authority. That’s why, at the end of Season Three, you’re going to be given a shred of hope. Death will be faced and Death will win, as it always does eventually. However, amid the carnage, there’s a few moments where, whether your favorite characters live or die, there is a point besides how many gory deaths we can expect.

One reviewer (a detractor) asked indelicately, “Why are the uninfected all assholes in the apocalypse?”

Answers:

1. Because an apocalypse without conflict, scarcity, fear and anger isn’t an apocalypse and a book without conflict sucks. 

2. One-dimensional people who always do good no matter what are predictable and therefore boring. We love them in real life (if we can find them) but fiction demands more. I must also add that not everyone is an “asshole” in This Plague of Days. Certainly not. However, they have complex motivations and face peculiar challenges. This is not about a bunch of soldiers holed up in a fortress with all the supplies they could ever need and endless ammo. The Spencers are pretty much regular people in extraordinary circumstances and every day is a test they did not study for. Failure = death.

3. And finally, plenty of people are assholes now and it’s not quite the apocalypse yet. Not quite. At least, not everywhere.

It is the apocalypse in some places. Author William Gibson said, ““The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” Similarly, the apocalypse arrives at different speeds. And as Arnold said, “Judgment Day is inevitable.”

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I wrote This Plague of Days, Seasons One and Two. I’d be happier if you read it. If you’re happier after you read it, please leave a happy review, too. Thanks!

Oh, and Season One is available in paperback for Christmas.

Get that for your friends, enemies, family, barber, Weird Combover Guy at the shop, the lady at the front desk at the office with the huge, hairspray hair, that avuncular uncle you like and the teenager who doesn’t like to read much but you want to encourage his brain. And so on.)

 


Movie review: Extinction

My throat is closing up so I lay on the couch and watched another end of the world movie on Netflix called Extinction: The GMO Chronicles. This one’s from Germany and I didn’t recognize any of its stars, but I enjoyed it. It was kind of sprawling (which I liked); had a hint of mystery (that was too quickly solved); the zombies evolved due to GMOs altering genetic codes (loved that); and it treated the audience like adults (which was refreshing.)

The hero, played by Daniel Buder, is a handsome devil who finds he seems immune to the zombie-like apocalypse. A nearby abandoned military base (great set) becomes his fortress. This movie rarely reaches the Omega Man level of creepy (that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.)

However, they do several things that I like a lot

1. When people die, the grief is not simply shrugged off. They spend some time showing the effects of death on the survivors. Even when the red shirt is unlikable, somebody loved him. It may make the movie too long for its own good, but for real lovers of Apocalyptic fiction, you forgive the length to explore the emotion. At least I did.

2. The story takes place in Europe and they don’t make guns too easy to come by. I think the same would be true in the real Apocalypse anywhere. Guns would be scooped up, prized and hoarded. We are only born with two hands, but when crises arise, no one thinks it’s possible to own enough weapons.

3. Nuclear power plants fail. I address this a little in Season 2, as well. I got the idea from watching the awesome Earth Without People series. We often forget what falls apart quickly without people to control things. For instance, New York’s subways would flood within three days without technicians managing them.

4. I loved the evolution of the zombie species (and if you’ve read Season Two of This Plague of Days, you’ll understand why.)

The makers of genetically modified foods screwed up and the virus is loose. It makes sense to me that the virus’ evolution would continue. Unfortunately, it seems the makers of Extinction blew the budget on the make up on one kick ass, terrifying, no-eyed zombie. After we glimpse the best creature of all, the parkour zombies take over. They’re agile and you see lots of silhouettes, but it suddenly feels like a darker production of the street fight in West Side Story.

5. There was a little hope held out and a hint of the supernatural at work. Mostly it went from “Is it time to commit suicide yet?” to dealing with the threat and conflicts with other survivors under pressure. 

With its limited production budget, Extinction feels like a TV movie and yes, at 110 minutes, it could have been shorter. However, they didn’t fall into the usual traps of zombie fiction and dared for a little more depth. Extra points for trying something more challenging to viewers expectations. Have a look and give it a try.

~ I’m the author of This Plague of Days, Seasons One and Two. I’m working on Season 3 now. Expect it in the spring. It’s a sprawling story, too. 

 


If you survived the apocalypse, what would you miss most?

The Walking Dead is about to come on, but I had to dash this off quick.

I was just listening to a TED talk about medical breakthroughs with gene sequencing, growing artificial bones and organs and individually tailored drug therapy. Despite how bad our schools often are and how nasty society can be, a lot of great things are coming our way, if the human race survives long enough to see the dawn of these discoveries.

In This Plague of Days, the Sutr flu killed sixty percent of the world’s population. That leaves a lot of screaming eating for the Sutr-Zs and the Sutr-As, but what does it leave for the surviving humans? Would you really want to survive such a harsh, uncertain future?

In World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler, the protagonist is a former businessman who, after the fall of the world as we know it, becomes a fiddler and carpenter. He has useful skills, is well-liked within his little community and things are fairly peachy for him. One thing that stands out for me about his new life is he doesn’t really seem to miss his old one. There’s no processed food to eat so most everyone’s healthier and, it seems, just about as happy.

I liked World Made By Hand plenty, five out of five stars, but that one detail didn’t ring true, for me at least. If and when the world collapses and there’s no steady power to depend upon, it shall sucketh.

In This Plague of Days, Jack and Anna lament the loss of Facebook. I would, too. Maybe that makes me pathetic, but getting together with people on social media and keeping in touch with friends is a worthy thing I don’t want to do without. I’d adjust given no alternative, of course, but I sure wouldn’t embrace being Amish.

Most of us went without the Internet for many years. We didn’t know what we were missing, but now that we do… There’s an old song about WWI that asks, “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That about sums it up. Nobody wants to go backward in time.

Here are things I’d miss, post-apocalypse:

Clean, running water and a hot shower each morning, as easy as turning on the tap. Working toilets also rock. Outhouses stink.

Hot coffee (Starbucks and Williams and even Tim Hortons.)

Access to medical care. Like I said in TPOD about the ever-so-cool Walking Dead, what are these people fighting so hard for? I don’t want to die of appendicitis or pray for death, enduring an abscessed tooth, waiting for the septicemia to shut down my brain.

Facebook, Twitter, news, politics, and easy access to the world’s knowledge with a Google search? I love being plugged into the hive mind.

While looting is easy and cheap, everything I would want runs on electricity!

My secluded fortress/log cabin in the woods is awesome. Love the fireplace and the stock of wood out back…but when you don’t want to cook, it’s great to be able to pick up the phone and order in Chinese food, isn’t it?

Gosh. I hope we make it. I’d rather live in a world with working hospitals and medical miracles on the way.

What about you? What would you miss most?

 

 

 

 

 


You’ve read it. It’s right before your eyes. Guess it and you’re in my next book.

It’s time for The Spoilers/No Spoilers Contest. 

There is a secret in This Plague of Days. It’s not buried that deep.

No one has guessed it, but it’s right before your eyes.

If you suspect you know, DM me on Facebook or DM on Twitter (and keep the secret).

Wild speculation will be entertained, but can neither be confirmed nor denied. No spoilers to the rest of the guessers.

Prizes? Sure.

First prize: A nice, fat, juicy paperback of Season One of This Plague of Days. (Signed with a personal note of praise and adulation. Probably signed by me.)

For the first three winners, I’ll use your names for characters in my next book. The secret will be revealed in Season 3.

Praise and adulation will be heaped upon all those who guess correctly on the All That Chazz podcast. 

Have at it!

Also, even if you’re way off, I still may incorporate your wild speculation into Season 3. I got an idea from a reader recently that I shall mold into…well, that would be be telling.

This’ll be fun, but it’s also serious. A chance at immortality hangs in the balance.

 


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 6): Why do we have to wait so long?

There are few things more pleasing for a writer than having people anxiously await your next book. It’s very cool and I do appreciate it. As someone rightly pointed out, “Hey! This Plague of Days is taking off and you’re writing another book that’s unrelated? Wouldn’t it be smarter to get to Season 3 faster, before you’re forgotten? Get Season 3 done now and write the other thing later.”

To paraphrase Alanis Morrisette, “That’s good advice I just can’t take.” 

The new book is pretty much written. I’m combing through it now. It’s funny and touching and quirky and, well, sort of like everything else I write, I suppose. The hero is another 17-year-old boy. (I don’t know why. I just type what the voices tell me.) It’s not horror. This one is another big book, but it’s my coming-of-age thriller. There is almost-sex, drugs and a kid trying to become a movie star in New York.

It’s pretty ambitious and it’s about ambition. It’s about learning how to be free in a world that’s quick to stomp on that impulse. It’s about love of family and how that can hurt you. I love the protagonist, Romeo Basilon. He doesn’t have much going for him. He’s smart, but poor. His mother’s an alcoholic. He gets suspended from school a lot. He’s a hick kid who finds himself in New York and he wants to be like his hero, actor John Leguizamo.

It’s dark and fun and I’m doing a few things with this you’ve probably never seen before. And yeah, there’s a Shakespearian component to this journey to love and self-discovery. I do strange.

And I needed a break from This Plague of Days to do something very different.

I had to air out the house and put fresh oil and gas in the storytelling engine. The work on TPOD made for a very intense summer. As I start up another business and juggle all the things I have to do, I had to put the Spencers on the back burner for just a little bit. There’s no intern here helping me out with the formatting, reformatting, printers, and oh-my-god-I’m-sorry-I-started-thinking-about-this-at-MIDNIGHT!

But rest assured, I already have 35,000 words of Season 3 written. I know what’s coming. We’ve been building to several big showdowns for the first two seasons. It will be fun to get back on the autistic zombie ride, reveal a big secret and do the to-do.

Season One was The Siege. Season Two was The Quest. Season Three will be The War. Some characters we love will die. Others will transform and transcend. Season Three will be filled with great moments, so join me as I put out something a little lighter and fun. I’m anxious to tell you more, but I better go finish it first.

Oh! And a question for you!

Huge thanks to all who have taken the time to review! We’re up to 43 reviews on Season One and already at 10 reviews on Season Two! TPOD S2 is still cruising a couple of bestseller lists (post-apocalyptic and dystopian.)

If the popularity keeps going, I might not release Season Three as a serial and I’ll just put it out there. (The reasoning is, by now, more people will just buy the complete season. Anybody got any thoughts on that? I’m open to readers’ opinions. You are the boss of me.

Much love,

Chazz


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