By Benjamin Percy
Posted on April 9, 2015 in Books with tags Benjamin Percy
Here are five favorites that influenced The Dead Lands.
My God! The poetic majesty of the prose, the wondrous horror of the images. An earthquake makes “the sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon like blood.” A star named Wormwood falls from the sky and poisons the waters of the earth. Locusts with lion’s teeth come, their wings making a noise like “the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.” The original End of Days.
Every once in awhile I’ll run across someone who grabs me and says, with religious zeal, “Yes! I love that book!” but so many have never heard of it and I worry this sci-fi classic will be lost, as if incinerated in the Flame Deluge, the nuclear holocaust that brings about a time of darkness and ignorance. For several hundred years the novel follows a cloister of monks in the desert who make it their mission to uncover and preserve the scientific knowledge of the lost world.
I know, I know: you’re suffering from post-apocalyptic fatigue. But maybe the end of the world has never been more popular because the end of the world has never seemed more probable. This is the first and best of the trilogy about corporate abuse and eco-collapse and scientific experimentation gone wild that makes you wonder what will happen if we continue down the road we’re already on…
A slim, quiet, elegant, simple horror masterpiece. A vampire contagion has made a cemetery of the world—except for one man. By day, he stakes every corpse he can find and researches possible cures, and by night he drinks whiskey and plays records loudly, trying to ignore the sounds of the undead wailing outside his shuttered house. The novella is acutely powerful as a study in the madness brought about by solitude and grief.
I don’t often reread novels, but I’ve reread this one three times now and it never loses its impact. Maybe it’s because the father-son relationship resonates so profoundly for me or maybe it’s because Cormac McCarthy has an elemental power, but this is one of my favorite reads of all time. And I’ve never felt fear like this before, not as an adult, especially that scene—you know the one—in the abandoned house, in the basement, in the dark…
Benjamin Percy’s post-apocalyptically brilliant new novel The Dead Lands is out now.