four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
57-Mar-Apr-2012
user_rating: 
0

A-Soft-ApocalypseA psychology professor at Georgia Southern University, Will McIntosh has published a number of short stories, including the Hugo Award-winning story "Bridesicle" (2009), in such publications as Asimov's Science Fiction and Strange Horizons. Soft Apocalypse is his first novel.

The Story: In 2023, 10 years since the economic meltdown that left 40 percent of Americans unemployed, the United States is plagued by domestic terrorists, gang violence, drugs, riots, starvation, and manmade viruses that decimate the population. Twenty-eight-year-old Jasper and his itinerant friends eke out a living by harvesting wind energy from passing cars and trading charged batteries for food, but, tired of the prejudice and hostility they face as vagrants, they decide to settle down in Savannah, Georgia, where Jasper finds work in a convenience store. As society slowly disintegrates around them, they cling to the remaining scraps of the life they once knew, striving for some semblance of normalcy.
Night Shade Books. 256 pages. $14.99. ISBN: 9781597802765

Barnes & Noble 4 of 5 Stars"Harking back to such landmarks as Fritz Leiber's Coming Attraction, John Barnes's Century Next Door series, and Thomas Disch's 334, the book actually might be best likened to a season of Friends or Seinfeld, mated with John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up, pushing chrome-plated irony through bloody horror and emerging annealed." Paul Di Filippo

Curled Up w/ Good Book 4 of 5 Stars"Will McIntosh's debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, is a fantastic page-turner about the near-future economic apocalyptic meltdown of America (and the world) and life in the aftermath. ... Soft Apocalypse foretells a future that ends not with a bang, but with a whimper (reminiscent of Stephen King's The Stand) in gripping, fast-paced style." Douglas R. Cobb

Escape Pod 4 of 5 Stars"Overall I found Soft Apocalypse to be an engrossing read, as well as a fast one--I read 60 percent of it on a plane flight to Minnesota--and I attribute the latter to a combination of good pacing and the story's ten-year timeline. Though it's not a happy book, there are moments of win peppered throughout, and the ending is both satisfying and thought-provoking in exactly the same way the rest of the book is." Josh Roseman

Worlds in a Grain of Sand 4 of 5 Stars"By the end, Soft Apocalypse is certainly one of the better books that I've read all year, which surprised me quite a bit for an impulse buy, one that's given me quite a bit to think about, fitting in with a lot of things that have been on my, and the general public's mind, for a while, especially when it comes to consumerism and waste in society. The book is a triumph in linking together the story and themes into a cohesive, strong character driven narrative." Andrew Liptak

Critical Summary

"Just how much of your civility are you willing to hold onto when no one else is civilized?" posits Escape Pod. In smooth first person narration, McIntosh chillingly reveals an unruly dystopia in the making, displaying skills honed by years of short story writing. Although the novel's chapters, functioning somewhat like stand-alone short stories, can lurch jarringly ahead in time, McIntosh's well-drawn characters, provocative commentary, and bleak but hauntingly beautiful imagery make up for a slightly disjointed story line. Described as an "unrelenting and unflinching car crash documentary of a novel" (Barnes & Noble), Soft Apocalypse presents an unsettling but plausible vision of our near future and signals that McIntosh is a writer to watch.