Among Madmen

Among Madmen by Jim Starlin & Daina Graziunas

End of the world, post-apocalyptic novel with monsters. So, my cup of tea. The first page grabbed me, “I wasn’t there when Keith died, but I’ve got a pretty good idea how it went down.” And the narrator tells of his wife’s morning routines.

Spoilers will follow.

In this future, there’s a plague, that strikes without warning, and some folks become brain dead, and other folks become rage-infested murderers. So, kinda like two kinds of zombies, one you have to take care of, the other suddenly are trying to kill you. I liked that idea. This has been going on for at least three years, and so, the population has dwindled, and the survivors in the story are in a remote town.

So far so good. On three occasions we see a normal person become berserkers. And seems the normal ties of society would be broken if you can’t trust your loved ones from going berserk at any moment.

The Bad – granted, I don’t know much about tactics and strategy…but still, the authors made some fatal flaws that I would suspect their characters would have avoided, since their characters were smart, survivors, cops, war-veterans,…

  • First, if you have oil, and it is dangerous to drive it around, and when you deliver there is the threat the customer will rob you, instead of you transporting a valuable commodity. Set up a fortified shop, and they come and get it.
  • Second, the town seems too spread out. Hey, if there are roving band of marauders, maybe you should castle up, keep the herd together, stick close to each other.
  • The Narrator’s wife, has a case of  berserker. And has killed eleven people, and yet, she still lives in town. Really, your spouse kills multiple people, and “oh, well, every relationship has challenges.” Whatever.
  • I never understood why the marauders would sneak in to attack the town…when a less fortified gas well is down the street. Unless, the marauders needed women. That angle of an apocalypse was never looked into, the “we need to breed to survive” point of view. (As Larry Niven wrote, “As soon as the meteor hit, women’s lib was a thing of the past” – Lucifer’s Hammer.)
  • The narrator never sees the irony of “we took the oil for our survival …and we had more guns” and the marauders attacking for supplies.
  • The authors spoil a couple of surprises by narrator saying, “I should have known…”
  • Bullets wasted when trying to wake someone. This bothered me in WalkingDead, too. The world has ended. Bullets are becoming more rare, and thus more valuable with every shot fired.
  • The whole night ambush…So, all I know, I read from Tom Clancey’s classic, Clear & Present Danger. As soon as you fire your gun, you lose your night vision. I would recommend using flares tossed at the enemy, or a Molotov cocktail would be better. I would recommend fortifying your position a bit, to slow them down if they charge at you.

The Ugly –

  • If you are attacking a town, and you want to get the stuff they have, WHY bring a flame thrower?
  • The final fight scene, I could have believe had it been in a fantasy novel with necromancers and paladins. As it was, a bit too much.
  • Would have been better twist if wife had been the big bad monster.
  • the dream sequence was bad

And remember kids,…ALWAYS confirm the kill.

I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed the beginning more than the end. To my brother, “Sorry if I didn’t like it as much as you did.”

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6 Responses to “Among Madmen”

  1. Eric Says:

    In regard to the flame thrower…
    268 pages of fiction and you notice the flamethrower!? That, my friend and brother, is one of the primary reasons they brought a flame thrower to the gun fight in the first place, because it draws attention in a way that explosive bullets don’t. It would also be great against bunkers and static fortifications. One flame thrower can crack a strong point in a way that small arms fire can’t. The raiders didn’t seem to have grenades but they did have a flame thrower and so they brought it along with them, just in case.

    • :-jon Says:

      “OK, hands up…who wants a strap a can of gas to their backs. Don’t worry, all enemy sights will be focused on you once they see you use the flame thrower. We’ll make sure your friends don’t stand too close, so they can say nice things about you at your BBQ-ulogy. So, who wants the tank of flammables? Hands up, I said.” {I’m sure that would go over well.]

      Did either the US military, or the insurgents, or Al Quaida use flame throwers in the past ten years? (I actually, don’t know.)

      Sure, it’s a great tool for taking out a pill-box. But they were going into a town, not a castle. And I believe, the purpose was to get supplies and stuff. “We were going to clear out your food stores, get a couple tanker loads of fuel” (pg 212). A flame thrower might, inadvertently burn some stuff up.

  2. Eric Says:

    On transporting gasoline…
    Moving gasoline in large quantities requires a large truck. So, to keep your customers happy you should deliver if you can. Usually it would seem that the poor roads were pretty safe, only requiring two men, maybe three. So, the surprise attack was just that a surprise. As for the raiders, I don’t get the idea that anyone else had gas they could steal.

    • :-jon Says:

      regarding keeping the customers happy, they are a monopoly. They didn’t need to care what the customers thought. It was in their best interest, to be safe, to have the customers come to them to fill up their tanks.

  3. Eric Says:

    On castles…
    From what I saw on a few maps it seems that Shandaken is at one end of a valley and Phonicia is at the other. Various fortifications were referred to in the book but never talked about in detail. So it seems that they blocked off the ends of the valley with strong points and it worked well for them for a while. Then later a spy came in and found their weak spots. Plausible. It has happened before. It will happen again.

    • :-jon Says:

      now possibly, a reason they didn’t “castle-up” is that if one of their own went berserk, then having space between homes would give them slightly more time to deal with the beserker.

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