☆ [PDF / Epub] ★ Swan Song By Robert R. McCammon ✩ – Dolove.info
This is one of the darkest post apocalyptic books I ve read in a while totally satisfied that craving I may have had a few bad dreams about it What I would have liked knowing beforehand Nuclear war with Russia There are fantasy elements in here Yes, it s long There s a war going on so if you re not really into military fiction won t be for you Overall it was almost too realistic Did I say it was really dark I would recommend it 4.5 to 5.0 stars I am a big fan of The Stand by Stephen King and I thought it was the standard in apocalyptic fictionUNTIL NOW Swan Song is THE BEST apocalyptic science fiction book I have ever read At over 950 pages, this book could have been a chore to get through but that was not the case at all I flew through it and never found my attention wandering or my interest waning A truly spectacular novel with a superb cast of really good peeople and REALLY BAD PEOPLE Highest possible recommendation Winner Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel 1988 Nominee World Fantasy Award for best Novel 1988 Nominee Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1988 What if the apocalypse that befell the poor souls in The Stand was nuclear instead of viral in nature and the whole thing was written in a stylelike Richard Matheson s than Stephen King s Well, you d probably have Swan Song.Comparisons with the Stand are inevitable Both are about the survivors of an apocalyptic event and both have a devil type figure walking around stirring things up Swan Song doesn t have that final battle between good and evil thing going like the Stand did, although some of the events could be interpreted as such.Swan, the title character, starts off as a little girl who s strangely good with plants before the bombs drop As the story unfolds, she s joined by Black Frankenstein, aka Josh Hutchins, a professional wrestler They re wandering, looking for other survivors Josh has been tasked with protecting Swan and does his best The other main protagonist is a former homeless woman called Sister, who has a glass ring with unusual abilities Their paths eventually cross with the Army of Excellence, led by Colonel Macklin, an unhinged Vietnam war hero, and Roland Croninger, a young millitary enthusiast caught up in playing soldier for real Throw in crazies like Lord Alvin and the ever present Man with Many Faces and you ve got a winner on your hands.I ll just come out and say it This book held my interestthan the Stand did The style was muchgripping and I got attached to Sister, Josh, and Swan I almost let a tear escape my eye at the end but fought it back.I d recommend this book to anyone who liked the Stand and other post apocalypic stories. The sky was filled with waves of moving, blinking stars Wheels of light rolled across the darkness over the trailer court, and streaks of yellow fire zigzagged upward into the haze that obscured the moon Thousands upon thousands of fireflies were passing overhead like galaxies in motion, their signals forming chains of light that stretched from west to east as far as Swan could see It would be pretty, right All those missiles streaking across the midnight sky The end of the world wrapped in the gossamer of sparkling, awe inspiring enchantment Once the guidance system tells these glowing tubes to descend to the earth, they explode into these nearly perfect, cylindrical, fiery mushroom clouds that reach for the sky It s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine R.E.M Oddly enough that song was released in 1987, the same year as this novel Well, maybe not so fine I ve had debates about end of the world scenarios People talk about what they would do to survive, but my hope is to be at ground zero I like culture and civilisation and don t really want to scramble about in a Mad Max world Of course, if by some chance my book lined ivory tower were to survive, I would really appreciate it if someone would drop off a bit of food and a bottle of red wine occasionally Josh Hutchins, a world weary professional wrestler known as the Black Frankenstein, is on his way to Garden City, Kansas, for a match when the world decides to end Someone would think that Kansas would be a good place to be for a post apocalyptic event, with its small population and lots of desolation It would be my state of choice, especially for a zombie apocalypse, for those reasons and the fact that the horizon goes on forever in every direction Line of sight, right From my tower window I can see those lurching, slobbering brain eaters coming from miles away Unfortunately, there are strategic military reasons why the Russkies would want to blow up Kansas, and they havethan enough of these glowing tubes of destruction to wreak havoc in every state of the Union Josh finds himself, after the fallout, the guardian of an orphaned nine year old girl, whose trailer trash name is Sue Wanda, but fortunately, she has been nicknamed Swan Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men Well, try having an apocalyptic event, and you will find out Now Swan is a very special young lady, and as she grows up over the next seven years, her natural affinity for growing plants evolves into something quite spectacularEverything can think and feel, in its own way, she replied, and she looked up at him The eyes in her young face were very old, Josh thought Bugs, birds, even grass everything has its own way of speaking and knowing Just depends on whether you can understand it or not Josh, in the midst of all this destruction and hardship, has had his own epiphany about lifeJosh opened his fist and drew his arm back The insect kept going, out of the light s range and into the darkness on its purposeful journey Who am I to kill such a thing he asked himself Who am I to deliver death to even the lowest form of life Swan, you see, can bring apple trees back to life She can plant corn seeds in infertile, radiated soil and make it grow She is the most important human being on the planet, and there are people looking for her There is Sister Creep, well not as creepy as her name would imply, is seeing visions and knows she must find Swan to give her something she will need desperately in her coming battle against pure evil There is Colonel Macklin who, with the help of his teenage henchman, Ronald Croninger, has built what they call the Army of Excellence AOE and are marching across the midwest killing all who refuse to join them and stealing the food and supplies of everyone they encounter Assimilate or perish There is one creatureinsidious than Macklin and Croninger and their whole army combined You can call him Friend, shudder , or The Man with the Scarlet Eye, or The Man of Many Faces, or if you want to try to think of him as somethinghuman, you can call him Doyle Holland He knows he has to destroy Swan because she is a beacon of hope amongst the chaosHope hurts me, he said It s a disease, and you re the germ that spreads it We can t have disease at my party Oh, no It won t be allowedSo what is Doyle exactly He isn t a man A demon The devil He can shape shift, manipulate, control minds He takes credit for all the chaos and evil in the world Doyle can feel the power of Swan, and she can feel his weaknesses It is an unsettling meetingHe blinked uncertainly, and in his eyes Swan saw fire and savagery, a core of pain past human suffering and so furious that it almost ripped her own heart to shreds He was a scream wrapped up in straw, a little, weak, vicious thing gnashing inside a monstrous facade She saw what he was made of, and she knew him very well Swan is also suffering a radiation inspired malady, as are many people, that is called a Job s MaskHer head was covered by gray growths that had begun as small black warts, had thickened and spread over the passage of years, had connected with gray tendrils like groping, intertwining vines The growths had covered her skull like a knotty helmet, had enclosed her facial features and sealed them up except for a small slit at her left eye and a ragged hole over her mouth through which she breathed and ateThey can feel their faces shifting under the growths view spoiler Once the masks come off, their true natures are revealed in their beauty or in their ugliness hide spoiler Percentage composition of previous or later works of postapocalypse of a sort in the DNA of R McCammon s enormous horror epic Swan Song 41% The Stand novel10% The Road novel which is actually, in itself, like 7% Mad Max a source which must NOT go completely ignored 10% Blood Meridian novel so about 60% of S.S can be found in King McCarthy alone 10% Lord of the Rings 6% Two Towers battle 4% magic ring emblem 5% Lonesome Dove novel5% Dawn of the Dead films mall battleground, motorcycle gangs 4% Cold Mountain novel film3% Death Race Death Race 2000 film2% Battle Royale film3% Hunger Games duh franchise3% Silvester Stallone s Daylight1% Poseidon Adventure1% Pocahontas the colonization tale in the new Wild West 1% Sleeping Beauty kiss of maiden 1% Snow White apple symbol love s kiss Yeah, the whole country s been nuked 130 by them lethal Russians We all knew it would happen, and do it does After everything is dead and gone, the unlucky remnants begin to establish feudal groups and erect new structures of power and control Evil forces unite, heroes are made, and characters are killed off in that adorably Walking Dead fashion The vigilantes suffer greatly, and its a true blast to read about dead babies crushed miners, about the annihilation of all humanity I m kidding The gruesome factor is quite high Superbly, the violence is violent the blood and gore is supreme.It is too long It begins to steadily lose steam to a tepid conclusion, something the reader had already expected would occur, but does only at an even later stage.Monoliths of horror Gotta love em Taking a quick glance through reviews of this book, they seem to have two things in common One, they all start with a reference to the book s size And two, they all remark about the comparisons to The Stand And now mine is no different Holy SHIT, this was a long ass book but it doesn t at all compare to The Stand, in my opinion Was it good Yeah, good, but for a book this ambitious and huge, I expectthan just good Part of that is that I think I d have appreciated it a lothad I read it before reading The Stand, because I just couldn t quite manage to not compare them, and that did not end up favoring Swan Song The characters, the plot, the characters connected by dreams or visions thing, the Walkin Dude King did it first, and better Sorry to all the McCammon fans out there but it s true I liked the story enough to finish it, but for so very freaking much of it, it felt like nothing was happening If there s going to be a huge amount of time in between little pockets of tension and excitement, then that time should be spent making me fall in love with the characters It should be spent making me dread the possibility of their untimely demise Or it should be spent making me feel like I m really living in a nuclear winter And shit, that wouldn t even be hard, considering this winter has been like Snowpocalypse So Tired Of Winter sob What that time should not be used for is repetitive scenes only included in the book to show us Swan s ability which we had learned about and understood from like page two How many times do I need to be shown that Swan holds life inside her Because going through it every time we hop back over to a Swan chapter felt like maybe one or two times too many Although, maybe it wasn t me that McCammon was trying to fill in maybe it was Swan herself Not exactly the brightest bulb there, considering how long it took her to figure out that she d be key in healing the damage that humanity brought upon itself To be perfectly honest, I didn t really care about any of these characters except Josh, and I m not sure if that s due to the book, or the reading I loved the way the reader did his voice , or because I just love big cuddly bearlike men, or even that I just needed SOMEONE to like in this book Maybe a little bit of all of those But the rest of the characters I disliked in varying degrees Evil Dude was Evil shrug Whatis there to say Sister felt wooden to me It was only rarely that she displayed any personality at all, and I just couldn t warm up to her Besides finding and carrying the glass a ma jig, I am still trying to figure out what her role was in the book Swan Well, I already talked about her Roland should die in a fire and then be reincarnated only to die in a fire and be reincarnated only to die in a fire again and so on, forever Macklin was just crazy and I kinda felt bad for him, but he was piece of shit crazy, not sympathetic human crazy, so he can die in Roland s fire too He doesn t have to be reincarnatedthan oh, two or three times El Presidente You know, I kinda felt bad for him In the beginning when we meet him, you can tell he s not prepared for what s happening, he s shit scared of the events that are outside of his control, and he s just trying to cope But then, all that sympathy that I had for him just evaporated toward the end Crazy or not FUCK HIM, man Who gets to decide to do THAT Why is that even a thing that would ever, EVER, EVEREVEREVER be developed and actually put in place Shameful and disgusting The mere concept of THAT is worse to me than anything else in this book By far He should have died in the fire However, as much as I loathed El Pres at the end, he s the only character that I felt actually wrestled with their humanity at all He wasn t a Good character or an Evil character He was flawed and conflicted and just doing what he thought was right for the good of all Still should have died in a fire though Coming back to the concept of Good and Evil, I have to say that there was never even a hint of a flicker of gray in any of these characters, with the exception I mentioned above They were either all GOOD, or all EVIL The chasm between the two would have to be traveled by goat, three mules, and a barge, and you better pack a lunch because it s a fucking hike to the other side The fact that McCammon THEN needed to literally show people s true faces , as if we were unclear which side they were on, was again, overkill All the GOOD people are so beautiful, and all the EVIL people are hideously deformed Because that s original One last thing before I wrap this up I really expected the glass a ma jig to have a vital purpose in the book, and I was very disappointed to learn that I was mistaken in this, especially after ALLLLLLL of the build up I trudged through, including the 10 minute long at 3x speed crowning scene For the thing to be relegated to be nothingthan a Rosetta Stone after all of that kind of makes me incredibly angry So, so very mad Oooh wonder what this big red button does I read this book back when it was first published in the 80 s I was still in high school, had big frizzy hair, wore too much blue eyeliner and pretty much hated my life I spent most of my free time haunting the local Osco drug for the newest horror paperbacks to escape it all When I saw this huge tome 900 pages I scurried back home with it thinking I had just hit the jackpot And I had It turned out to be one of the best horror novels I d ever read and I was reading a lot back then This is why I was hesitant to revisit it, some 26 years later, afraid I d tarnish my memory of fiction perfection But I did it anyway I can t read 900 page tomes any because my brain shuts down at the thought but I can read them on unabridged audio Swan Song became my driving companion for over three weeks and now that I m finished I already miss the soothing voice of Tom Stechschulte I ll have to snap up something else he s narrated Maybe The Road if I can bring myself to listen to it.If you ve read this you already know it s one of the best end of the world novels ever written, if you haven t read it yet and you re a fan of the new apocalypse books flooding the shelves, you really need to do yourself a favor and read this one It is set in the 80 s and we are at war with Russia, trigger fingers set off nuclear bombs and kaboom the world as we know it is gone The rest of the book focuses on a cast of characters as they make their way in this entirely new world void of all creature comforts like fresh water, sunshine, and warmth But out of the destruction, a little magic blooms too Two camps basically evolve There are the murdering, raping pillagers and the decent people who want to restore the earth and rebuild The two have an epic, classic collision of good vs evil Those are the bare bones of the story but it s so muchthan that It s heartbreaking and full of loss as well as hope and it so worth your time.A few notes that you should be aware of before digging in 1 The book doesn t start with a huge bang There s enough setup and character back story here for 3 or 4 modern day books Woo hoo for me because I can never get enough of that stuff when it s good but maybe not for everyone 2 The action takes a little bit to get going but once it starts there is a lot of it and it s described in vivid detail I m not a huge action fan and I admit I did doze off when the military maneuvers went on and on 3 The book skips around from group to group There are a lot of characters to wrap your head around and I was a little confused here and there but eventually you get to know most of them very intimately Many of them are flawed people and they re all changed by their time on the road I think I enjoyed that aspect most of all Be warned though, some of these people who you will grow to love will die and you will probably cry Maybe for a few days.4 This sucker is a 34 hour listen I thought the narrator did a fantastic job with most of the characters For the most part, he gave them distinctive voices with the exception of the villains at the very end to me they all sounded the same screeching out their scratchy voiced commands You may want to find a sample online and give it a listen before committing 34 hours is a long freaking time if the narrator isn t working for you.5 There s a hell of a lot of violence and it s not the prettified, glossy kind Be prepared.6 There is a strong, 50ish female character as a lead Where can you find that nowadays If you find one , tell me so I can buy it.7 There is even a little smidge of a sweet romance amidst all of the chaos See, there s something for everyone Now go read it. An Ancient Evil Roams The Desolate Landscape Of An America Ravaged By Nuclear War He Is The Man With The Scarlet Eye, A Malevolent Force That Feeds On The Dark Desires Of The Countless Followers He Has Gathered Into His Service His Only Desire Is To Find A Special Child Named Swan And Destroy Her But Those Who Would Protect The Girl Are Determined To Fight For What Is Left Of The World, And Their Souls In A Wasteland Born Of Rage, Populated By Monstrous Creatures And Marauding Armies, The Last Survivors On Earth Have Been Drawn Into The Final Battle Between Good And Evil That Will Decide The Fate Of Humanity The next stop in my end of the world reading marathon was Robert McCammon s post apocalyptic epic Swan Song Published in 1987, nine years after Stephen King s The Stand, the story follows two bands of survivors one representing good, the other evil as they make their way across what used to be America while a supernatural being no less than Old Scratch himself seeks to undermine the good souls and shift the battle onto the side of evil Yes, kids, eeriely similar to The Stand More on that later.The tale begins on July 16 with the President of the United States, a former astronaut, facing a world in crisis Eight months ago, the Soviet Union unleashed nuclear and chemical strikes on Afghanistan A twelve and a half kiloton nuclear device has leveled half of Beirut, with dozens of terrorist groups claiming responsibility India and Pakistan have exchanged nuclear and chemical strikes, and Iraq and Iran follow suit American and Soviet naval and air forces shadow each other over the Persian Gulf, while off Key West, a trigger happy U.S fighter jet sends a missile into a crippled Russian sub The U.S.S.R responds by blinding American satellites The President is adamant that he will not start World War III but his advisers remark that the world is already at war In a game of brinkmanship, he reluctantly gives the A OK to intercept Soviet submarines on the seas Meanwhile, several Americans go about the last day of their rest of their lives In Manhattan, bag lady Sister Creep, whose regular life ended with drunk driving and its aftermath, opens up a razorblade on two men who assault her Sister uses her last bit of change to enter the subway, where she seeks shelter in a tunnel, plagued by bad memories of what sent her here in the first place In Concordia, Kansas, professional wrestler Black Frankenstein , alias Josh Hutchins, resorts to some stagecraft when his opponent injures himself and risks allowing the bad guy to win the bout Unlike his character, Josh is one of the good guys, with a wife and two sons in Mobile and a love for donuts In Wichita, Sue Wanda Prescott tends to a garden she s planted outside the mobile home she shares with her stripper mom Darleen and uncle Swan, who has a gift for growing things and seeing into people, unnerves her mom s latest boyfriend, and after he slaps Darleen, mother and daughter hit the road In Idaho, the Croninger family wind their RV up Blue Dome Mountain, where they re bought a two week time share in Earth House, an underground compound managed by Vietnam veteran Colonel James Macklin The young Roland Croninger, a geek for computers and strategy games, is not impressed with the middle aged war hero, while his mother observes numerous drainage problems in the mountain fortress.These are the unlucky ones who survive the global thermonuclear war that begins at 10 16 a.m EST.Sister Creep emerges from the subway to find her favorite spot in the city a glassworks shop destroyed along with all the other buildings Amid the ruins, she discovers a ring of glass forged by the nuclear fire into a priceless jewel which seems to enable the bearer to dreamwalk great distances and see fantastic things The ring gives hope to each of the shellshocked survivors Sister reluctantly gathers up to lead through the flooding Holland Tunnel to safety Josh meets Swan Doreen at a gas station near a cornfield in Kansas where the locusts seem to sense something headed their way Swan feels it next but is unable to alert the grownups before missile silos in the cornfield open and fire ICBMs into the atmosphere In the retaliatory strike that follows, Josh, Swan Doreen are buried in a fallout shelter under the gas station.Colonel Macklin and the staff of Earth House track World War III in real time and seal the mountain as they ve drilled for countless times Located far from any likely targets, they watch in disbelief as a U.S missile headed for Russia malfunctions and explodes close enough to hit the compound with a shockwave The faulty drainage system turns the mountain in a tomb, separating Roland from his parents The boy loses his mind but finds a new patron in Colonel Macklin, whom he rescues from the rubble and helps escape to the surface.In New Jersey, Sister Creep encounters a survivor who gives the name of Doyle Halland and claims to be a priest Something about the man and the way he appeared suddenly makes Sister uneasy He becomes fixated on the ring she s carrying after seeing the effect it has on other survivors Halland reveals himself to be something less than human and far worse, a creature of many different faces and names The Man With the Scarlet Eye among them who s taken a front row seat to every genocide in history Sister manages to escape and using the ring, begins to experience visions of a special girl in Kansas.This takes us through page 267 of 956 or roughly one third of the book By the conclusion, I kept hoping it would never end.In Stephen King s anthology Four Past Midnight, the story The Library Policeman features an exchange between librarian Mrs Lortz and a realtor named Sam Peebles, who feels the librarian s borrowing instructions to the kids seem harsh She replies, Their favorite novel was a paperback original called Swan Song It s a horror novel by a man named Robert McCammon We can t keep it in stock, Sam They read each new copy to rags in weeks I had a copy put in Vinabind, but of course, it was stolen By one of the bad children If that s not an endorsement from Uncle Stevie, I don t know what is I first read Swan Song in high school and revisiting this 25 years later, am happy to say that I was evenenthralled the second time around Once I quit comparing it to The Stand, which I read recently for the first time and still had very fresh on my mind, and simply submitted to McCammon s fits of imagination and gift of majestic storytelling, I never looked back.With The Stand, King s characters all seemed to me like they could be found in the same hardware store in Maine, and while King knows those characters, their pasts and their personalities extremely well, McCammon jets the reader out of the hardware store and scatters us to four corners of the country, introducing characters I found muchdiverse and almost as compelling.The Man with the Scarlet Eye, alias Doyle Halland, alias Friend, is as close as I ve seen an author get to using Sympathy For the Devil by The Rolling Stones to bring a character to life He s introduced in a sleazy theater in Times Square watching Faces of Death III, laughing at the carnage, looking for himself on screen and giving the employees the creeps Strangely, none of the staff members can agree on what the man looks like, and are reminded of painful memories while in proximity to him Spook Central.One aspect of Swan Song I found wonderfully novel was the introduction of a skin condition among some of the survivors that becomes known as Job s Mask, which starts off as facial warts that begin to connect through tendrils and eventually wrap the sufferer s entire face in a thick mask Those afflicted suffer great pain over many months and years as their facial structure itself begins to be altered altered into what becomes one of the great questions in the book.My only complaint about Swan Song is one that I reserve for every paperback I ve picked up with McCammon s name on the cover and that s how awful the art is Granted, McCammon s output in the 80s and 90s trafficked in demons, aliens and werewolves, but these covers look like something a demon, alien or werewolf coughed up Any illustrator with a love for these novels could do a certifiably better job of capturing the majesty and scope of the storytelling When reading a McCammon book in public, I actually turn the cover over so nobody will see what I m reading That s how bad this artwork is Swan Song is not for the faint of heart, but what I found most remarkable about it is the lengths McCammon goes to render the country barren and why The United States is cloaked in nuclear winter The earth and bodies of water have been polluted Rats are a good meal and for water, melted snow, which often makes those forced to sip it ill At night, wolves come out of the woods to feed and later, things that no carnival freakshow could conjure up Sunlight has vanished and along with it, hope What happens when the characters finally come together in Missouri and begin to build a community where previously there were only survivors waiting for neighbors to die so they could steal clothes or food is I was watching them like a kid would some string beans he d planted I was invested emotionally in the transformation of the wasteland into something resembling a home and when it comes under attack, I was hooked into seeing it protected I haven t come this close to talking to a book in some time. The Kindle edition is currently on offer 2.05p in the UK, possibly 1.99 in the States it s showing as 2.69 and 1.99 in Canada Considering the price it s usually going for the current price isthan copasetic.I bought it eons ago, and still haven t read it, yet I ll have to rectify that, sometime, soon Hopefully.