This Week’s Prophet of Doom: S.M. Anderson!

Author S.M. Anderson

Born Scott Michael Anderson and raised on a diverse diet of authors, ranging from J.R.R. Tolkien to Graham Greene, this week’s Prophet of Doom, uses his background in the CIA to craft memorably suspenseful tales of a post-apocalyptic conflict. Let’s now take a deeper dive into the work and mind of S.M. Anderson.

Copper: As a child, were there any books or movies that nudged you in the direction of apocalyptic fiction?
 
S.M: Having been a voracious reader since I can remember, I sort of feel that everything I’ve read or seen in terms of the post-apocalypse or dystopian calls back to the fact that I’m a child of the Cold War and grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when likelihood of nuclear armageddon was much more a part of everyday life than it is now. I actually think it’s more likely now than in the somewhat stable 2 great power system of the time – but I digress. . . In terms of books, “Swan Song” by Robert McCammon was seared into my memory. It’s a fantastic book. “The Earth Abides” – by George Stewart, and “I am Legend” by Richard Mattheson were both books I’ve re-read thirty years later and are every bit as good. I thought the Will Smith film was very well done.
 
But all that aside – the real reason I wrote “End of Summer” and the Seasons of Man series was that my wife likes dystopian fiction. I wanted to take a whirl at writing something that would interest her. My First series “The Eden Chronicles” was – or I guess is – straight up military/Sci-fi/portal world. She liked it, but it was so far removed from the stuff she generally reads I tried to do something different with “End of Summer.” Book three in that series releases in July 2022.
 
Copper: Most post-apocalyptic tales feature a danger from humans, from nature or from aliens. In your view, which of these threats are the most likely to bring down civilization?
 
S.M: Humans or Nature in my opinion. Nature just doesn’t care – it just is. For people that live in the shadow of a volcano, on a fault line or at an asteroid impact site – the stories we can tell are going to wind up being about the people anyway. Nature is just a backdrop, albeit a deadly one in many cases. Humans, even with all the wondrous things we can do – from putting a man on the moon, mapping the human genome or inventing the breakfast burrito – we are still capable and quite willing when pushed to act in ways that destroy the civilization we’ve built. I’ve always said, “good people” are capable of doing ANYTHING when it comes down to the basics of feeding and protecting your loved ones. I think that’s the central theme of my Seasons of Man series.
 
As for aliens, if they do come here, the simple fact that they are able to get here is going to mean they are so far ahead of us, they might view us as ants – or just well equipped primates. I find the stories of Earthlings fighting off invading space aliens fun to read – and maybe to write. Who knows the lengths I’d go to keep my access to breakfast burritos? But the central conceit of those stories is pure fantasy in my opinion.
 
Copper: Given your background in Intelligence, is there any particular book or movie that gets things particularly right as far as intelligence is concerned? Or are we all just getting it wrong?
 
S.M: Most of what is popular in the genre is well written and very entertaining but it bears little resemblance to the real-life intelligence world. The books that have stuck with me as being realistic are anything written by le Carre – “Russia House” is prime example but all his stuff is very good. “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” by Tom Clancy was good as well. Graham Greene wrote some incredible stuff during the Cold War to include “The Quiet American” which is a favorite of mine. Interestingly, in my opinion, some of the best fiction in the genre is tongue in cheek, farcical – Like the “Flashman” series or Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent.” Both are great reads and laugh out loud funny.

Copper: What one song would you hope survives the apocalypse for the sake of helping you maintain your sanity?
 
S.M: One song for the apocalypse? That’s a cruel question – my tastes are very eclectic depending on my mood. I could see myself going for a sad piece of country music; my dog died, my wife left me, aliens came and took all our Mexican food and beer kinda thing. In the end though, I’d want my classic rock – maybe Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” or some Metallica – “Whiskey in the Jar. I think I’d need a pick me-up.

Check out S.M’s latest release, Standing at the Gate, the third in his Seasons of Man series!

(Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you)

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: Franklin Horton!

Author Franklin Horton

Author Franklin Horton has exactly the background and storytelling skill needed to deliver high-octane post-apocalyptic thrillers. As you’ll see in this interview and in his books, he’s seen humanity at its darkest but doesn’t fall victim to pessimism. His books are gritty, but in the end, they are tales of survival, not defeat. (Links in description may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

Copper: What was your favorite book as a child?

Franklin: Farley Mowat’s Lost in the Barrens. Written in the 1950s, it was the story of two kids surviving a winter in the arctic. I read it over a dozen times.

Copper: Prior to becoming a full-time author, you’ve held a diverse range of jobs such as radio announcer, substance abuse educator, retail store owner and carpenter. Which of those jobs was best as far as providing you with material to use in your books?
 
Franklin: Definitely being a substance abuse educator. Besides teaching me a lot about human behavior and motivations, it showed me that substance abusers are a good example of apocalyptic behavior because they’re already living in their own personal apocalypse. Their desperate search for drugs mirrors how people might lose sight of their own morality in the post-apocalyptic search for food.

Copper: When it comes to apocalyptic societal collapse, are you more afraid of man-made catastrophes or natural catastrophes?

Franklin: I think natural catastrophes are far more likely to impact most people. I always tell people that I don’t prep because I’m afraid of EMPs. I prep because I know that all of us will at some point be impacted by flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms, blizzards, or something along that line. Everyone should have the ability to filter water, heat their home, and cook without relying on grid power. As far as man-made disasters, I don’t fear a sudden event as much as I fear the slow erosion of freedom, our rights, our financial security, and personal prosperity.

Copper: What one song would you hope survives the apocalypse for the sake of helping you maintain your sanity?

Franklin: Probably a good strong blues song like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Pride and Joy. Nothing like the blues to remind a person that they can find joy even in the face of despair. That’s a recurrent theme in my books. If you can’t find happiness in the apocalypse, is there a reason to keep going on?

Here’s Franklin’s latest book, The Death Dealer’s Manual: Book Seven of the Mad Mick Series!

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: Greg Dragon!

This week’s Prophet of Doom boasts a unique brand of Apocalyptic flair. Combining the best of science fiction and crime fiction, Greg Dragon creates novels that unfold with suspense, wonder and good-old fashioned dystopian dread. (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

For the uninitiated, The Judas Cypher (the first in the Synth Crisis series) may be the best place to start. It explodes with pessimistic noir like the bastard offspring of Phillip K. and Raymond Chandler. Another good choice for a Greg Dragon gateway would be his latest release, Neon Eclipse.

Copper: Your books have a very cinematic quality to them. If the Judas Cypher were adapted into a film, who do you see playing the lead role of Dhata Mays? 

Greg: Wow, I’ve never thought about this. Dhata is an imposing figure, a little over 6ft in height, and about 230lbs of augmented, middle-aged power, so the closest in look, given that and him being a close-shaven African American male, I would go with McKinley Belcher or Mustafa Shakir. They have the look I had in my mind’s eye when I imagined my detective. Mike Colter could pull it off, Jamie Hector is always playing a detective now, and we’ve seen him cold in The Wire. Dhata embodies both extremes. All this to say, whoever played him would have to toe the balance between cold-blooded and suave. Everyone I mentioned has done it in their roles; that’s why I mention them. Black leading man is a limited, coveted role in Hollywood. It’s the same two to three guys in everything for a short period, so if the decision were mine, The Judas Cypher would be a vehicle to promote the next Chadwick Boseman, someone unknown who could use Dhata to show the world their greatness. 

Copper: Without giving too much away, the Judas Cypher has ‘fake human’ characters known as synths. The book seems to express a concern for authenticity in human beings in the technology driven future. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the ability of humans to survive the onslaught of technology? 


Greg: I believe Science Fiction has always been a lens into the future, sometimes extreme, sometimes frighteningly precise. People love to cite books like 1984 for this type of thing, but we had Star Trek, where communicators were “futuristic” until smartphones became a thing. Artificial people are already here, they aren’t yet as sophisticated as Dhata’s synths or Asimov’s robots, but technology doesn’t move at a set pace. It accelerates with every discovery.  Synths will be here before we know it, and like everything else strange or outside our understanding and control, we will try to destroy them, destroy their creators, and fight the typhoon with our tiny human shields. It’s inevitable. Will it be the fall of humanity like the Matrix or I-Robot? Who knows? Will we find a way to achieve a singularity, where like in The Judas Cypher, those artificial children of ours fix enough of our world to bring in the next step in evolution? Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s an optimistic fantasy until it isn’t. I can’t answer one way or another. 

Ultimately it won’t be up to us, so that is my answer. When the AI starts building the AI and removing flaws to become something close to sentient, it will be our judge. Now, with us as the parents, which way will it go? Some of us form habits to be the opposite of our parents, and others become their parents. Schrödinger’s AI or something like that. Hopefully, this “Arch Brain” will choose to be nothing like mommy and daddy. 

Copper: When discussing writing on your blog, you’ve talked about the need for discipline. What’s your advice for maintaining discipline and focus in a world of social media bells and whistles? 

Greg: When you’re in the act of writing, think about your environment, your headspace, and the time. We’re creatures of habit, so if there are things you can replicate in your writing habits, continue to do them, and try to make writing as much a part of your day as eating and sleeping. Discipline, to me, is being serious enough about your writing that it becomes a part of your daily life, as much as watching a show on Netflix, scrolling Reddit, or playing a video game. These are all things we habitually do, so why not write? Are you being honest with yourself, or is it fear? Is it fear of rejection, fear of people laughing at your prose, fear of being mediocre? What is it?  


Publishing can be intimidating. There’s no shortage of comments online from anonymous people who speak in absolutes, tearing down popular books, shouting out “rules,” and all sorts of nastiness. It can stunt your creativity when you feel maligned and will hamper you if you let it. I’m not against brainlessly surfing writing forums and social media, but many times they could be the source of you not making that first step. Think about it. 
Whenever I get writer’s block or hemming and hawing, I have learned to sit back and consider why I’m in my way of getting my word count accomplished. Most of the time, it’s something unrelated, hampering my confidence, so I focus on that and how I can get past it to get back to writing. There is no easy way to make writing a habit, but being honest about what’s making you stop may help you get past it. Your mileage may vary. 

Copper: And finally, the most important apocalypse-related question: what one song would you need to survive the apocalypse to help maintain your sanity? 

Greg: Mobb Deep – Shook Ones, Pt. II. If I were the last survivor inside a bunker with limited ammunition, I’d imagine this song would charge me enough to do alright against the zombies or rival camp. Let’s go. 

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: A.R. Shaw!

Each week, we feature interviews with your favorite post-apocalyptic and dystopian authors, directors, screenwriters and assorted nay-saying troublemakers! (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

A.R. Shaw

Annette Shaw’s unique blend of evocative storytelling and nerdy, science-heavy backstory makes for captivating reading, as legions of dedicated fans would happily attest. Writing under A.R. Shaw, she debuted as an author in 2013 with The China Pandemic, an accidentally portentous tale of a world in peril due to a catastrophically lethal virus of sinister origin.

In the years since, she’s thrilled us with PA medical thrillers, survival stories and has even teased readers with the promise of an upcoming cozy post-apocalyptic novel!

While we ponder the debut of this intriguing sub-genre, let’s learn more about USA Today bestselling author A.R. Shaw.

Copper: You often deal with nature-related catastrophes as a theme in your books, but those catastrophes will frequently have human error or greed as their true source. When it comes to apocalyptic disasters, would you describe yourself as more fearful of humanity or nature?

A.R. I know there’s a lot to fear in the atrocities humanity is capable of, especially when they’re desperate, but I’d bet money any day of the week that Mother Nature has that one in the bag. Pompeii is a mild example. In fact, we keep finding remains of human existence much longer ago than anyone one fathomed. And the only eraser then was nature. Fear her above all others. 

Copper: The China Pandemic is a truly frightening book made all the more frightening by the way it foreshadowed the current pandemic (minus the sinister origins). As a young reader, were you influenced by any books that frightened you?

A.R. Not necessarily frightened but Yes. I was an avid reader as a child. It kept me out of trouble. Mostly historical fiction and in particular, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Surprisingly, that particular book showed me how one survives without power and by will alone. I mean, they did it back then. It was their way of life and it wasn’t really that long ago when you think about it. My grandparents parents lived with no power most of their lifetime. A little later, I was drawn to Alas Babylon, Earth Abides, and Lucifer’s Hammer. All early classics in the post-apocalyptic era. There’s something about stripping humans of all comforts and showing them what they’re made of, that intrigues me.

Copper: Has your military background as a communications radio operator influenced your approach to imagining a technologically crippled world?

 In the late eighties, I worked on radio equipment from the 40’s and 50’s at Keesler AFB and Kelly’s MARS Station. Even the buildings we worked and were housed in, were from the WWII era. And Sgt. Green, my boss at the MARS station, was sitting at my desk a year before my appointment when he was the first point of contact after a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, about 1985, that had happened three days prior to the event. Thousands died. Radio was the only way they were able to get word out for help. It was a pretty remarkable event that seems lost to history. And though radio doesn’t always work…it’s still the most reliable way of communication when the grids, satellites, and towers go down. So most definitely, my writing is influenced by my back ground. 

Copper: And finally, the most important apocalypse-related question: what one song would you need to survive the apocalypse to ensure your sanity?

A.R. Two songs, actually. Drift Away by Dobie Gray to relax and Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival when it’s on!

Check out A.R. Shaw’s Surrender the Sun series and look for a new sequel coming later this year!

Next Week’s prophet of Doom, author Greg Dragon!

Top five dystopian novels you must read before you die at the hands of an evil autocratic regime that vows to enslave all humanity

Dystopian novels are a category all their own, distinct form science-fiction as the focus is less centered on technology and science and more on humanity; but also distinct from post-apocalyptic fiction because these novels envision a world after the worst has already unfolded. This usually means a world where humanity’s chief enemy is humanity itself.

The very best of this genre tend to gaze inward into the soul of man and find something irredeemably sinister. Some would say these novels truly see humanity at its most honest. (Links int he description may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at on extra cost to you.)

1984, George Orwell

This seems an obvious place to start — and for good reason. Orwell’s chilling tale of an all-seeing, all controlling, regime with the power to crush all dissent with carefully crafted language and the implied threat of personal erasure always sounds eerily familiar in times where there the powers that be have too much power. In other words, it always sounds eerily familiar. Ever why this still has a place on bestseller lists nearly a decade after its release?

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s provocative classic is best understood as a companion piece to Orwell’s 1984. The imagine dystopia here is not one which humanity is enslave into, but rather, one humanity volunteers for. The landscape Huxley creates is full of unending surface thrills, the absence of individual responsibility and access escape from life’s ugly side through a drug called Soma. The Author is cynical enough to see danger from all angles: corporate greed, conformity and an excessive appetite for vice.

We, Yevgeny Zamyatin

Don’t be frightened by the unfamiliar title or the author’s hard-to-pronounce name. We is to dystopian fiction what Bram Stoker’s Dracula is to vampire novels, which is to say, the place where it began. Penned in 1924, Zamyatin’s forerunner of the genre contains themes that suggest a young Huxley and Orwell were paying close attention. It is horrifying, thrilling and funny.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Although primarily known as a writer of science fiction short stories, Bradbury takes a deep dive here on the impulse to control the written word. In Bradbury’s bleak dystopia, a group of men known as firemen are tasked with destroying all printed books — as well as the homes that contain them. Hope exists in the form an eccentric neighbor named Clarisse who seeks to educate the world about a past where ideas were fearlessly shared in books. A must read for fans of the genre, and for fans of free speech.

The Penultimate Truth, Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick may be the most ruthless and unflinching truth-teller in the genres of science-fiction and dystopian fiction. While his seminal classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (later adopted into the film Blade Runner) doesn’t quite fit in this category, The Penultimate Truth does. Its story concerns a hoard of frightened humans forced to live underground while a stunning secrets lives just above them. This would be a great introduction to those new to the genre or new to this groundbreaking author.

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: JK Franks!

Each week we feature interviews with your favorite post-apocalyptic authors, directors, screenwriters and assorted nay-saying troublemakers! (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

JK Franks

This week’s Prophet of Doom, is a busy man. In addition to being a technologist, graphic designer and business owner, JK Franks crafts captivating science fiction of all genres, but most notably, post-apocalyptic fiction.

Catalyst: Downward Cycle could be thought of as his gateway novel. Not only was it his first published work of fiction, it also serves as a strong portal into his work in the PA genre.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the work and the mind of this week’s Prophet of Doom, JK Franks:

Copper: What was it about the genre of science fiction that drew you into it?

JK | I grew up during the space race and fell in love with everything scientific. I started reading Danny Dunn sci-fi series in school and moved on to Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Herbert and others. I found that I loved the stories that were near-future and based on real science the best.

I am a big believer in “What if…” Really great science fiction is a true story, that just hasn’t happened yet. It takes those science facts and stretches them to the limit of believability yet still keeps it grounded in ways that all of us can identify with,

Copper: What about post-apocalyptic in particular?

JK | I like strong characters and action that doesn’t need a lot of build-up. Post Apoc allows us to put characters instantly in extreme situations. That is when the truth tends to shine through, good or bad. I’ve always had a fascination with the post-apocalyptic genre. While most people assume Post Apoc stories are about the catastrophe and the worst of humanity I think the opposite is true. They are ultimately about hope; hope even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Copper: Having been born and raised in the south, would you say there were any southern writers who influenced your style and approach to writing?

JK | Not as many as you might think. My Sci Fi authors were from all over However, my first novel was inspired by both Pat Frank (Alas Babylon) and William R. Forsythin (One Second After) both transplanted southerners. While not Sci-Fi I am also a huge Pat Conroy fan and set one of my books in his hometown of Beuafort, SC. Another of my more recent favorites is Hugh Howey (Wool) who I believe is from Charleston.

Copper Smith: Your books have a cinematic quality to them in terms of their vividness and the urgent sense of storytelling. Where there any post-apocalyptic films that influenced you?

JK | I think I just have a very visual way of thinking and writing. I have to see the scenes and characters play out in my head before I can put them on paper. I could never be a pure plotter/outliner. I do love movies but not to the same degree as books and rarely do I find any post-apocalyptic that I feel are done terribly well. Many tend to focus on the world-ending disaster when what really matters is the characters; what they are willing to do to survive? How quickly can they adapt? Do they need to go alone or join forces? Also, I like smart characters on both side of the moral equation and movies rarely present that level of depth to any of the roles. Two I will mention are The Road and A Quiet Place. I thought they were exceptionally well done.

Copper Smith: And for our most important apocalypse related question, what one song would you like to survive the apocalypse?

JK | If you read any of my books you know I am a huge music fan jazz, blues, rock and I hope (almost) all of them survive, I should go cliché and say Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. I did name my son after a line in the song but staying true to my inner survivor I have to say ‘In the End’ by Linkin Park.

Check out Catalyst, the first book in JK’s Downward Cycle series!

Next week’s Prophet of Doom: author AR Shaw!

Stay in touch, Copperheads!

You’ll get updates and previews of new books, plus links to anything fun, captivating and scandalous related to the post-apocalyptic world!

New Dystopian short story: Unnamed Future

Unnamed Future depicts a soon-to-unfold society in which all political, cultural and personal differences are erased from humanity by giving every single person the same personality. Oddly enough, things don’t go well — at least not for our heroine, who rebels by experimenting with an illegal drug that provides her with something exotic and dangerous: a personality of her own. (This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy the product, I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you)

Buy it here on Amazon!

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