Joe Junkman #2: Birth of a Salesman

Hate to break it to you folks, but my entry into the wasteland isn’t nearly as interesting as you might have guessed. I know it’s a pretty popular rumor, but I can assure you, I was NOT found in a junkyard as a baby. I’m a business man, not a trash messiah. Truth is, I was a traveling salesman in the old days. I’d go knocking door to door, hawking milkshake machines, toys, shower curtain rings, you name it. If I didn’t sell, I didn’t eat; so I became really good at talking to people and perfecting the art of the pitch.Salesman-Clipart

When things started going south all over the world (and especially south of the border), I kept doing what I always did, selling. When we really started losing the war, when the the food lines and rationing were in full swing, I became a sort of national icon while selling ties to a California state senator. The news people said I was proof that the American Dream could weather the toughest storms.

None of that matters now. Continue reading

Wastelands: Salvage

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As stated on Twitter, I recently picked up Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse an anthology of post-apocalyptic shorts. The series includes many notable authors, some of whom were recommended to me. With this series, I want to look at each story to get a better grasp on the plot, characters, and the apocalypse itself. This promises to be one of the few times The Rad-lands will be breaking away from specifically post-nuclear fiction.


MV5BODU4ZTczOGUtOWMyZC00MDQzLTkzOWItMWQ2NmM0YzZjMDEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDUzOTQ5MjY@._V1_UY317_CR34,0,214,317_AL_“Salvage” is one of those stories that just makes me roll my lips and go “brrrrrtttt” until I run out of air. I had to read this story twice because the first run just didn’t stick with me. It’s purely subjective, but something about the prose or the way characters talk gave my internal narrator an uncomfortable southern drawl that made the words feel slow and sticky, similar to Willem Dafoe’s performance as Rat in Fantastic Mr. Fox. While hunting down illustrations for this piece, I noticed that discussion on this story is pretty scant. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised to find “Salvage” has a 2.5/5 average on Goodreads. That having been said, if you can get past the thick dialect and the lack of context for the surrounding world, I think you’ll find something worth salvaging from the murky depths of The Mormon Sea. Continue reading

Wastelands: “The End of the Whole Mess”

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As stated on Twitter, I recently picked up Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse an anthology of post-apocalyptic shorts. The series includes many notable authors, some of whom were recommended to me. With this series, I want to look at each story to get a better grasp on the plot, characters, and the apocalypse itself. This promises to be one of the few times The Rad-lands will be breaking away from specifically post-nuclear fiction.


134-stephen_kingOur first story is “The End of the Whole Mess” by Stephen King. Truthfully, this was the first time I read King. He didn’t disappoint; the prose has a nice flow and is both easy and pleasant to read aloud (so easy, they chose Matthew Broderick to narrate the audiobook).

So what kind of apocalypse is this anyway? Well, we only get hints about the outside world. The story is a cross between stream of consciousness writing and character establishing flashbacks. The apocalyptic setting is really just a framing device to carry the irony. That said, the cause of this apocalypse is Calmative, a water additive dispersed across the entire planet that first made humans docile and later resulted in dementia, cognitive failure, and death. That’s a unique apocalyptic scenario, almost like a reverse Planet of the Apes.

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