Tuesday, February 15, 2011

...and then everybody dies!

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin arrived yesterday afternoon. I'm about a hundred pages and a million corpses into the book, and let me tell you, this is the feel-good family hit of the season. Apparently it takes a lot of killin' to make the New Soviet Man.

The big takeaway lesson thus far is that it's damned hard to resist dekulakization when all you have are pitchforks and hoes. This is why we have a Second Amendment, not for shooting deer or giving the government the right to create a National Guard.

This is coming on the heels of having read the Young Adult TEOTWAWKI trilogy that begins with Life As We Knew It, in which some manner of hand-waved cosmic impact nudges the moon into a closer orbit. Massive tides, earthquakes, vulcanism, and piles of dead people ensue. The book is written as the journal entries of a high school sophomore who is definitely going to miss the junior prom on account of the world coming to an end. It's surprisingly good, and surprisingly gritty for a YA novel.

I'm thinking that by this time tomorrow, I'll definitely be ready for some lighter fare, like a book of knock-knock jokes or the like...

33 comments:

Cargosquid said...

You could always go read japete for some comedy relief.....

Tam said...

I'd rather gargle crushed glass.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Or re-read that gunbroker thread. I'm still chuckling.

Boat Guy said...

Lighter fare? How 'bout Glenn Beck's "The Overton Window"?
'Least it'll reinforce your appreciation for 2A...

eriko said...

If you want something in the middle ground of that spectrum and have not already read it the Hungry Games trilogy is an interesting read.

Montie said...

Well, New Jovian Thunderbolt beat me to it, heh.

RobertSlaughter said...

Looking at the negative reviews of "Life as we Knew It" over on Amazon.com, I am curious what your final take on it will be.

perlhaqr said...

So, it's basically the prequel to Gulag Archipelago in terms of "things one probably shouldn't read in the midst of a fit of depression"?

In the Infinity Gauntlet storyline in the Marvel Comics universe, the character who creates the Gauntlet (which gives him mastery over every aspect of the universe, basically), is in love with the personification of Death in that universe. And so he creates a planet on which people are born for the sole purpose of bearing more children and then feeding themselves into giant suicide machines, factory style.

I was pretty horrified when I read that concept at ... I dunno, I guess I was 12 or so.

I became more horrified when I read about the Soviets and the Nazis and discovered that factory efficient assembly-line murder wasn't a new concept the authors of that comic book had made up.

Borepatch said...

For lighter fare, you'll like Hammer and Tickle, a book of subversive jokes from Russia in the Soviet period.

For example: "Is it true that Marxism-Leninism is scientific?" "Nyet, surely not. If it were, they would have tested it on animals first."

And you can wash it down with an ice cold Leninade! Their marketing is pretty funny: "A taste worth standing in line for!"

Oleg Volk said...

Better than reading a book of no-knock jokes! And for more cheery, try LeGuin's "The Dispossessed".

Anonymous said...

To round out this trifecta of good cheer, I recommend "Cruel Hunters" by French MacLean.

Anonymous said...

"book of subversive jokes from Russia in the Soviet period"

Did you know Adam and Eve were the first socialists?

They had nothing to wear, little to eat and thought they lived in paradise.

John A said...

Knock-knock jokes? May I suggest, for light non-political reading, searching (Amazon or other outlets) for "Asimov Limericks" He published one collection of "mostly clean" ones, and co-authored several others.

Anonymous said...

You should see if you can find a copy of "Emergence" by David R. Palmer since you're talking about young adult TEOTWAWKI.

DirtCrashr said...

How about some Taliban knock-knock jokes? Peek-a-boo, XM25 sees you!
Ok that's more knock-down than knock-knock...

Starik Igolkin said...

"The big takeaway lesson thus far is that it's damned hard to resist dekulakization when all you have are pitchforks and hoes."

Actually, there was supposed to be a pretty large amount of small arms still hidden in villages after the Civil War. More likely, with examples of Tambov, Kronstadt and dozens of smaller rebellions of the 1920s still fresh in people's memory, most chose not to resist and take the chance that they might survive GULAG vs getting shelled and gassed by the Red Army.

Anonymous said...

A Confederacy of Dunces by JK Toole always makes me laugh everytime I reread it.

Gerry

aczarnowski said...

Pratchett's Unseen Academicals is just what I needed to fend off February. Less about soccer/football than I expected; like most Pratchett it's not exactly about what's on the cover.

theirritablearchitect said...

Why do we need cosmic interference?

The Caliphate Prophecy is getting hard to ignore.

Barry is on the idiot box, telling us it's all good, and that we just need to hold hands and jump into the boat...simultaneously, lest it gets all capsized, or something.

China's wheat harvest looks like the next world famine, destined for the history books, if the TeeWee is to be believed.

We're doing just fine, all on our own, and ensuring the demise of the species.

Aaron said...

Might as well read William Forstchen's One Second After for a gloom and doom trifecta.

After reading all those, its enough to get one shopping for canned goods and shotguns.

Ken said...

Stross's A Colder War (what the heck, toss in Missile Gap as an aperitif). You can read both online.

Joe in PNG said...

Or head over to Cracked.com for a bit... just, be careful... you may get stuck there.

Justthisguy said...

Ok, here ya go:

A neutrino walks into a bar.

Bartender: We don't serve your kind here.

Neutrino: Hey man, just passin' through!

jfruser said...

I watched the author on www.booktv.org give an hour-long talk. Here is the link:
http://booktv.org/Program/12075/Bloodlands+Europe+Between+Hitler+and+Stalin.aspx

Like any history of this place & time, it is grim, grim, grim.

For those in the know, www.booktv.org is for political/book junkies who are considered too geeky for the usual C-SPan junkies.

Ian Argent said...

Me, I'm refreshing myself via Glen Cook's Garrett PI novels. Just the right blend of gumshoe noir and grim fantasy world. Now, apparently, mostly available to the Kindle if that's what rocks your wagon. (oddly enough, missing 3 in a row in the middle fothe series. Can't figur ethat. Rights issue?)

Firehand said...

Ah, Garrett and the Dead Man!

Firehand said...

Although if you want non-depressing, I'd skip Old Tin Sorrows for now

Ian Argent said...

And Morley, Saucerhead, and the rest

Ian Argent said...

Old Tin Sorrows is one of my favorites, actually. Eleanor is a favorite character

Ian Argent said...

Alas, not available on Kindle and expensively out of print

Anonymous said...

"The big takeaway lesson...is that it's damned hard to resist dekulakization when all you have are pitchforks and hoes."

And from the dictionary definition of the word of the day:

"Dekulakization: the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families in 1929-1932. The richer peasants were labeled kulaks and considered class enemies. The stated purpose of the campaign was to fight the counter-revolution and build socialism in the countryside. This policy was accomplished simultaneously with collectivization in the USSR and effectively brought all agriculture and peasants in the Soviet Russia under state control.

The "liquidation of the kulaks as a class" was announced by Stalin on 27 December 1929. The decision was formalized in a resolution "On measures for the elimination of kulak households in districts of comprehensive collectivization" on January 30, 1930. All kulaks were divided into three categories: (I) to be shot or imprisoned as decided by the local secret political police; (II) to be sent to Siberia after confiscation of their property; and (III) to be evicted from their houses and used in labour colonies within their own districts.

A combination of dekulakization, collectivization, and other repressive policies led to mass starvation in many parts of the Soviet Union and the death of at least 14.5 million peasants in 1930-1937"

Thanks a lot for the vocabulary addition and the associated history lesson, Tam...at least I hope it's just history.

I think from now on when someone earnestly, innocently, and cluelessly asks me, why do you want or need to own guns?

I'm just going to show them the two quotes above.

As for the cheering up? Good luck with that.

AT

Joe in PNG said...

Check the thread, and what do I get for a WV?

"sucked"

I could make a easy comment about how terrible the life and times under Stalin and Hitler would be, but a bit of knowledge of how many children, parents, brothers and individual people died under these monsters just sucked the will to do that right out of me.

Brad K. said...

For a darker story, how about "Midshipman's Hope", David Feintuch. Or maybe "Exchange of Hostages" by Susan R. Matthews.

On the lighter side, "Another Fine Myth" by Asprin, Robert Frezza's "McLendon's Syndrome" and "VMR Theory" (Vampire Master Race theory states that humans are too stupid to have survived, without a secret ruling class of vampires. SF)

Then there is the YA/Liaden Universe "Balance of Trade", Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

Or the western/adventure/romance/gender reversal/future SF (and very fun and enjoyable) "A Brother's Price", Wen Spencer.

Enjoy the day!