Jun 062011
 

You never really know how the apocalypse is going to happen. Some say it will be caused by a vengeful god (or gods). Others say it will be because of a virus strain that causes everyone infected to turn into brain-craving zombies. In the newest installment of WotC’s Gamma World, the apocalypse is caused by a mishap with the Large Hadron Collider. Years after the “Big Mistake” (where the LHC exploded and caused several alternate dimensions to exist in the same reality), the world is a mutated and dangerous place, full of danger at every turn; which is why it’s the perfect place to begin our exploration of different strategies to keep your butt alive after the apocalypse. In this entry, I’ll discuss the methods within Mel Odom’s Sooner Dead, a Gamma World novel.

Most of the novel takes place in an area known as the Redblight, somewhere deep within the remains of Oklahoma. The environment itself is dangerous enough on its on without having to protect others, but Hella and Stampede, the main characters, have much more to deal with along the way. There are roving highwaymen, inbred cyborgs, other “guides,” and unknown things that appear out of rifts between dimensions. I also should add the scientists that Hella and Stampede are guiding through the Redblight to the list, because anyone who disregards the dangers of the wilds is a danger themselves to them and any around them.

So we’ve established that the Redblight is not a safe place to be. How are you supposed to survive in such a horrible place? Well, there’s several different ways, some of which we will discuss here.

When facing danger, be dangerous!

One easy way to help keep yourself at the top of the food chain is to be more deadly than the things around you. Stamped accomplishes this by being a bisonoid (an anthropomorphic bison with human intelligence) who has seismic powers. He’s also a well trained guide of the Redblight, and skilled with several types of firearms. Having the strength of a bison helps out as well.

If you’re not a mutated beast-man, you may take Hella’s approach. She has millions of nanobots living inside of her, allowing her to shape her hands into guns and absorb ingredients for ammo from her backpack. The tiny bio-mech robots also allow her to heal faster and do some pretty amazing things, all of which are divulged in greater detail in the source material. Needless to say, Hella can hold her own against what the Redblight may through at her.

Other options for turning yourself into a badass abound within Gamma Terra, such as high-tech armor called hardshells that increase your strength and response time while protecting your body, and genetic mutations that allow you to control the basic laws of physics, like gravity. Anything is possible after the apocalypse, so try a few different ones out and see what keeps you alive the best.

Have friends in high places (preferably with a sniper rifle).

Loyalty and comradery come hard to those who are constantly attempting to survive, but being able to trust someone to watch your back leaves you more room to defend yourself when the going gets tough. Hella and Stampede trust each other, and keep in contact with each other with a com system hidden within their ears. They keep the channel on at all times, never hiding anything from each other. This full trust allows for each of them to keep tabs on the other, and alert the other if help is needed. If they couldn’t do this, then scouting and separating in general would be a riskier endeavor that it already is.

Long time friends and good relations are also wise to have when living in the wilds. Making friends with a passing traveler on the road may bag you an ally when you’re attacked by a motorcycle gang of armadillo-men, and being on good terms with the head of security at the nearest trading post could mean the difference between sleeping in a bed and sleeping under a tree.

You must always be wary, though, when putting your trust in others. You never know when someone will stab you in the back to get your food, or when someone will use you as bait to get at something you want. These two, however, are lessons that could be used to your advantage (especially using others as bait). Remember the old saying, “When running from an alligator the size of an RV with your friends, you don’t have to outrun the alligator; you just have to outrun your friends.”

Ride the snake (well, more like a giant mutated lizard)

Travel through the wilderness can be very tiresome, especially since most roads were destroyed during the Big Mistake. Some people can’t afford any transport other than good old righty and lefty, and therefore walk to where they need to go. Even though this is a very time consuming venture, it can allow you to be rather stealthy and it’s about as dependable as you are. Travel light if you choose to go this route, and if you can afford it, at least purchase a mule or horse to carry some gear for you. You can also eat the horse if rations get low.

A step up from a horse would be a personal ATV. The scientists that Hella and Stampede are escorting have a company of guards that ride ATVs. These single person vehicles are electric powered, and very quiet. Plus, they are easily charged and don’t emit fumes that predators could track. When all else fails, an ATV is a good choice if you don’t know the wilderness too well, but it makes for lousy dinner when times are hard.

Hella’s choice of transport is that of Daisy, a giant “Mountain Boomer” lizard. Daisy is built to go through the forests as well as over rocky surfaces, and is very dependable. The lizard is fairly intelligent, and almost as loyal as a dog. Being from around the Redblight, the lizard is well attuned to the dangers of the area, and can act as an early alert system. Fuel-wise, Daisy could be a little expensive in keeping her full of meat and water, but when you’ve just taken out a band of brigands, there’s no one better suited to clean up the mess. Just be sure that you don’t attempt to eat your Mountain Boomer, as it will most likely be offended and attempt to eat you back.

 

In summary of Mel Odom’s theories of surviving after an apocalypse, you have to be able to defend yourself, you have to have friends that you can rely on while still keeping your eye on those you put your trust in, and you have to have good transportation. Mel goes on in more detail about living in the Redblight, such the worry of disease and the importance of being cautious while scavenging, all while telling a pretty entertaining story. There’s a few grammar and spelling errors in the novel, and the dark tone somewhat goes against the random silliness of the Gamma World game it’s based on, but overall it’s worth the read, whether you’re planning for the possible future or not. If nothing else, this will be a great book to read in your fallout shelter after the LHC catastrophically fails, causing the world to end as we know it.

You have your own fallout shelter, don’t you?

[tags]Gamma World, Post-Apocalyptic, Oklahoma, Mel Odom, Book Review, Survival[/tags]

About Tim Tuttle

When not serving food to the masses, I read, write, game, role-play, and constantly train my ferocious ferret army. I mainly read traditional and urban fantasy, but I'm making steady excursions to the realms of all that is sci-fi.

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