Is it possible to hide away from the world? Could a collective just weld the doors; thus, with the right amount of scientific and social planning, create a self-sustaining ecology, capable of a blissful ignorance? “An isolationist xenophobic’s wet dream” you may mumble under your breath, as examples of non uniform thought in even the most aligned civilizations since the beginning of humanity, invade your consciousness.
It is in this light I wish to paint this review of the second portion of the Ruinland Series from C.J. Anderson; patience, all will be explained shortly…
“Survive Ruinland” begins immediately after the first entry, “Enter Ruinland“, and to my inward smile, as the blended, godless lecture, and descriptive stylings have now become synonymous with the rigid geometry of C.J’s worlds. Our protagonist, or antagonist as you may see when we finish this verbal sparing, Petty Officer Lauren Vasquez has breached an oasis in the irradiated dust, graciously invited in like a protein through the wall of a cell.
The first section of the story feels like Ruinland, tastes like Ruinland, but it doesnt sound like it. There is something different, there is a new tool at work here and its subtle, depending on your literary history it may stand out like a beacon in the darkness or a flash of lightning in an ion storm, it sounds like newspeak. My personal history is deeply influenced by the linguistic manipulations of Orwell and after consulting with C.J. on the intentionality of this new dialectic tool of a sort, I was assured of its non-erroneous status. Words like: wokenworld, evershadowed, blindworld, and soullove scream at you in the first few chapters; they demand attention and, being a strong believer in immersion, thou shalt adhere.
This is a wonderfully new concept to me, I was told that Cormac McCarthy among others have experimented in such a way, but here it is an example of something that uses what the reader brings to the table more than the impact on the story by the writer’s pen alone. This expansion of the language is a delight, adding seemingly exponential depth to what could be shown with the two words independent of each other.
Moving on, not all is glorious in the wasteland. Without breaking to my first points too quickly I need to address something that I previously praised from my review of Enter Ruinland, the AI Memo. The strength of this shift from the physical to the computational was in its scarcity, and in some cases its momentum dispersion. A section of this short entry was almost monopolistically taken over by Sophia, the AI in Bunker 13 from the first story. To pick at the bones after a harvest is but to kick my cook but in short form the pacing shall take precedent over niceties from time to time… The memos were great but it is my opinion that a wider spread would have maintained its effect from the first.
And finally, the allusions to Utopian ignorance mentioned in the introduction of this review, culminating with my final assessment. The story is broken up into two locales the new Megabunker Fort Bragg and the steadily decaying Bunker 13, but my emphasis will be on the new as only the expected will come to those venturing into the blood soaked home of Chiron and Sophia. This Megabunker, Fort Bragg, is a holy haven for the spiritual, a seemingly functional Stepford society held together by God, faith, pre-nuclear apocalyptic green technology, and a synthetic “Lexa”.
Once again bringing my historical tendencies into play, there is a very Edgar Allen Poe vibe to this possibly inadvertent re-imagining of “The Masque of the Red Death”. This escapists paradise, while the world crumbles, is in an alarming state of bliss with a crusader army in the shadows to guarantee that happiness. This little world appears to be working, it’s synthetic human-machine-hybrid-puppet master Lexa elevated deistically to oversee. The dilemma I wish to peruse: would it last? Would it, without provocation, simply roll like a happy little rat in a wheel? Is this where Vasquez is the virus, is her bleak, self interested, godlessness the disease entered into this mindlessly content “cell”?
This, to me is, the most masterful insight of the text: It could be, it really could, if they could just fucking let well enough alone. C.J Anderson hammers in his percussive literary assault, the one thing they can never do: let the child decide. Ominous overtones and wet, religious tongues, circle thin pursed lips at the prospect of a child, apparently rare in the bunker. A child to consume, to form, and to train into a soldier of god. Protagonist, our Officer Vasquez shall stay it would seem, as the climax and culmination of this entire episode ends not with a whimper but a bang.
Once again, overzealous and often unfair level of critique aside, I heartily recommend C.J. Anderson’s latest success. I will return to this world for the next installment, without question.
Read Enter Ruinland for free HERE
Read Survive Ruinland HERE