Joe Junkman: 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.

I was hitchhiking my way to Vegas when the nukes hit. Unfortunately, I didn’t get vaporized in the blast, instead got stranded in this radioactive dustbowl called “The Mo-Javi.” The Army abandoned this patch of dirt months before the end, leaving the valley as a lawless hellhole for all but the most heavily armed.

When I first arrived in the place we now call “The BLVD,” I spent two whole days with my back literally pressed up against a crumbling wall, desperately trying to avoid gunfire from across the street. We all know what happened after that. ARE General Morris Kass and his legion came storming onto the BLVD, “pacified” the area (he always used that word in his speeches), built the famous wall of trash, installed a government, and appointed The Judge, yadda yadda yadda.

The important thing is what pacifying the BLVD did. As the 47th Legion purged the shelled city, room by room and hall by hall, they left behind a mountain of bodies and weapons. I was never far behind those elite soldiers, stuffing all I could into my bags before scurrying off toward the nearest campfire.

The age of the milkshake machine had passed. The age of canned food and bullets had begun.

-Joe Junkman

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

Cult Classics: Wheels of Fire

Following the success of Mad Max 2 was a handful of post-apocalyptic B-movies. Among those was Wheels of Fire (also known as Pyro, Vindicator, and Desert Warrior), a surprisingly decent take on the post-apocalyptic genre which takes a lot of inspiration from the perfectly hammy Warriors of the Wasteland. Despite some mediocre cinematography and acting, Wheels of Fire proved to be a fast paced, action packed, and overall interesting movie. If you follow our cult classics section regularly, you know how this works by now, we’re going to break the movie into four parts.

  1. The plot
  2. Interesting concepts
  3. Cinematography
  4. The ending

The Plot: First of all, this story is massive. Warriors of the Wasteland was just as long, but most of the movie was overextended fight scenes. Wheels of Fire always has something new happening. The scale is massive and so is the synopsis.

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Our story begins with typical not-Mad-Max archetype, Trace, entering a merchant village. Here we’re introduced to his younger sister, Arlie, and her annoying, controlling boyfriend. In the first five minutes, Arlie’s boyfriend fights in a gladiatorial arena where contestants wear car keys around their necks and beat each other with PVC pipes. Don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t matter. Continue reading

The Final Station: Dude, Where’s My Train?

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When The Final Station first hit Steam, there was a lot of excitement from people in the post-apocalyptic community. A game about a a weary eyed train conductor battling mutant hordes while rescuing survivors and gathering resources? Sounds great! On paper. In reality, I found The Final Station to be a repetitive and often confusing experience.

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The game has a complicated premise which is never fully explained. Our role in the story begins 106 years after something called the “First Visitation.” During this event, locomotive sized capsules, each of unknown make and material, fell from the sky. These mysterious devices dotted the entire planet. At least one capsule landed in every major city and noteworthy town. Shortly after this event, a mysterious spacecraft fell from the sky and crashed in the mountains. Humanity’s combined armed forces went to investigate the incident, but were completely wiped out. The capsules, many of which had dropped into literal city centers, then released an unknown gas. People exposed to this gas without protection gradually transformed into inky black zombie creatures. A century later, some believe the First Visitation is a myth (despite the zombie infestation and massive capsules that dot the landscape). Meanwhile, the surviving city-state governments have spent a century preparing their defense for the Second Visitation.

That’s a mouthful. At the outset, the game leaves an impression that it has a story to tell. Why else would a 2D twitch shooter have such expansive lore? Continue reading

Deconstructing Fallout 3: Tenpenny Tower

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When I first played Fallout 3 on my Xbox 360 way back in 2008, I found myself drawn to the hubs and the quests. Exploring the wasteland was fun, but ultimately I was looking for structure and a story. I’ve recently booted up Fallout 3 again, but this time on the PC. With extreme (but lore friendly) modding, I’ve found the exploration aspect far more enjoyable and the quests frankly lackluster. I want to deconstruct the quests in Fallout 3 to think about how they work in relation to an open world map and the player character’s development choices.

Let’s start with the basics. Not counting the three childhood quests, Fallout 3 has a total of 66 quests in the base game: 10 story quests, 18 side quests, 22 unmarked side quests, and 16 repeatable fetch quests. Again, I want to briefly break down each of these to see how they’ve made use of the new environment and the RPG elements.


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You know what? “Tenpenny Tower” is a good quest. It’s well structured, it’s got some great roleplaying options to expand your character, and it has three major endings, each of which has a noticeable impact on a prominent trading hub. Unfortunately, the entire quest falls apart after it has been completed.

Continue reading

Smegma Crazies, Gayboys, and The Golden Youth

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On the surface, The Road Warrior is a fine action movie that defined the post-apocalyptic genre and put everyone involved on the map. If we put aside the action and go a little deeper, we start to see some interesting clues about the Humungus tribe. As we already saw with Lord Humungus and especially Fury Road, George Miller loves adding cryptic details into his films. Perhaps the most discussed and yet mysterious of these details revolves around the Humungus tribe’s not-so-subtle homoeroticism.

Continue reading

Police State

“Two weeks hard labor.”

That was the sentence given to me by “his honor” the Judge. Geeze. I can still see that fat sluggish tongue scraping the cheese dust from his bloated lips. Guy looks like a bullfrog with a mustache. And the smell… his whole courtroom smells like a plate of steaming hot puke with a glass of skunked beer.

After my “trial” (if you can call it that), I was shackled, beaten again, and hauled off to the blacksmiths. Saul Fore wouldn’t get me out of this one. For two weeks, he just glanced at me and shook his head. When I called out to him, he said that I was beyond helping. Those words hit a lot harder than the police batons, even if they didn’t leave me covered in purple splotches.

For the past two weeks I’ve been lighting forges, assembling weapons, and handloading fresh bullets. My fingers have turned grey, but it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve actually learned a lot about how guns work. Plus, all this gave me some time to clear my head and think about everything that’s happened in the past few weeks. Besides, hard labor is a lot better than getting thrown out in the wasteland…again.

You’re probably wondering: How did that idiot Joe Junkman get into this mess?

Well, I had just entered the BLVD with Saul Fore our food caravan. It had been a long, but uneventful journey from Abundance. Almost immediately, I spotted a crowd gathered round a band playing on a rusting pickup truck. Then the music hit me. All I could hear was the wonderful strumming of a finely tuned guitar. I ignored Saul Fore’s warning and followed the string of notes drifting through the air. I caught myself nodding my head and shaking my hips. I was in a trance, comfortably numb to the world around me.

That’s partially why I didn’t hear the curfew siren. The other reason is that I had no idea the BLVD had a curfew in the first place. At first, I didn’t even notice the “counselor’s” approached wearing their fancy suits and armed with nightsticks and hand crank sirens. The crowd quickly dispersed, but I had no idea what was happening. Nobody told me anything! Of course the Judge croaked out that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Seems pretty stupid to me.

It wasn’t long before I was the last person on the street. The counselors boxed me in. One shouted something at me through a megaphone, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I didn’t want any trouble, so I shot my hands up and slowly walked toward the suit with the megaphone. He didn’t like that.

Something slammed into the back of my head. I hit the ground hard. A padded knee rested on top of me as my arms were roughly placed behind my back. I tried to use the old Junkman charm, but that just got me a steel-toed kick to the guts. Bruises. Just what I needed. I’m sure someone will find that attractive.

After all that, I was hauled off to the courthouse to await my trial the following morning. Of course, I had to defend myself in court so it didn’t go well. But all this got me thinking. What if someone were to put an official list of the BLVD’s laws on paper? And what if they sold that list for a few tags? And what if that someone was me?