Apocalypse and Philosophy: A Match Made in Hell…

Apocalypse and Philosophy: A Match Made in Hell… September 30, 2016

As I have said a number of times, my first fiction book (Survival of the Fittest: Metamorphosis) has recently been released. I would love to get it out there some more (with its lovely cover and recently updated interior). It has had universally good reviews. The idea was to weave casual, thoughtful philosophy into the narrative so that there is more than just plot and character to get your teeth into. There is no better vehicle than a breakdown of society to investigate moral philosophy and many of the other big questions that take up our thinking time.

Here are some great reviews of the first book in the series:

Having read some of Pearce’s non-fiction work (which is exceedingly well done), I was unsure how he would make the transition to fiction, as they are very different kinds of writing. I needn’t have worried, though, as “Metamorphosis” was a great read that kept me page turning to see what awaited the characters around the next corner. Turns out, plenty.

In the vein of Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead,” Pearce sets us up to care about the people undergoing this horrible event, not sacrificing character development for cheap horror. I’m greatly looking forward to the follow-up!

Johno Pearce is a philosopher, who has written many books and lectures on philosophical, sceptical themes. As far as I know this is his first work of fiction. So why choose zombies?

I guess because it enables him to explore how ordinary people react to extraordinary circumstances, and thus to better explore their humanity. He takes a large variety of unrelated people, from a wide variety of backgrounds and lets us get to know them as people in a normal context before in each case seeing how they deal with what for some is a gradual unfolding of the crisis, for others, who for one reason or another have been insulated from its early stages, is a more sudden overturning of their worlds.

It is brilliantly done and leaves the reader looking forward to what I hope will be not too long a wait for the next volume in what could be a classic saga. Thoroughly recommended.

ebook cover cropped

I don’t want to hand out spoilers about the plot, but some similarities with the world we are living now make the story much more plausible than one could think of, in a fiction book.

It’s autumn time here in Brazil, but it still feels like the summer still didn’t end in 2016: an early than predicted threat of a dangerous and deadly flu virus (H1N1 with already several deaths in the State I live), beyond the threat of the now (in)famous Zika virus spreading through the world. It could be now, in dozens , hundreds, thousands of years.. .Who knows?…We are always waiting the possibility of a deadly mutation or a new virus that could be much more devastating than the spanish flu, the plague or Justin Bieber. Change “virus” to an asteroid or another natural or man made cataclysm. Probability says that it’s certain to happen.

The book deals with what would happen to different people in one of these scenarios. How people, now comfortable and fully dependent on technology, will deal with a fast change in their lives, taken abruptly of their comfort zone, as if in a snap of fingers the entire species were moving fastly to a probable extinction. Not to far from what already happened to more than 99% of the species that once inhabited the planet.

Johny’s background in Philosophy can be “felt” in the pages. There’s material for philosophy discussions all over the book, from morals,moral relativism, free-will, the problem of evil, euthanasia, philosophical zombies, conscience and how to deal when/if one grasps the undeniable fact that humans are just chemical robots , just a bit fancier than other primates in terms of brain functions and the arising of conscience compared to “lower” animals. But fortunately for all audiences, Johny does not push any conclusions to the reader (as I already did in this paragraph), but just serves enough good thought material.

For the reader avid for an excellent material in the subject of free-will, I recommend the SUPERB book from Johno MS Pearce, called: Free Will?: An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book

And yes, the similarity of the author’s name is not coincidence.

Johnny Pearce has done a first class job of describing a rapid descent into anarchy without resorting to hyperbole. The story is the zombie apocalypse as it would happen to you or me; scary, brutal and gripping.

The intertwining of different characters and their story arcs was particularly ingenious; some characters join forces, while some… well, some don’t!

Not everyone is likeable, and as in life, coincidence and luck plays a far bigger part in survival than any cosmic justice. It’s not that nice guys finish last, but when treating your neighbour as you would want them to treat you can lead to your neighbour attempting to chew off your face, you may need to adjust your moral compass.
Of course, given Johnny’s expertise as a philosopher, several important ethical issues are dealt with admirably: the nuances of personhood, euthanasia, rights and responsibilities.

If you enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and wished they would make some more rational decisions on The Walking Dead then this is the book for you!

The book left me yearning for more. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.

It makes a great holiday book!

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I have to confess that I’m not in any way a fan of Zombie films and books. I’ve seen a very few films and, to be honest, felt that they were just an excuse for a bit of a gore fest.

Enter Jonny Pearce. I’ve been following with avid interest Jonathan’s blog for sometime now, and have read a number of his books. His book on free will is one of the few I haven’t actually read, but it has the reputation of being better even than Sam Harris. So when I saw he’d written a Zombie book I was somewhat ambivalent. Not another writer trying to be Stephen King!

I needn’t have worried. The story is, of course, about Zombies, but in reality that is just an illustrative backdrop to Jonathan’s commentary on human emotions and behaviours. There are several completely unlinked (for most of the book) characters, each of whom has a unique story attaching to them. Horrible things happen because it’s a Zombie book, but the important element isn’t in the action and the gore (of which there is much), rather it’s how characters think and behave. I won’t say too much so as not to reveal the plot but you do feel yourself being sucked into the total unreality of the world these characters find themselves in. Intertwined all the way through the book with the characters and their reactions, is plenty of philosophy and I found part of the fun of reading was anticipating where, and what, concept Jonathan was going to introduce next.

I’m looking forward to a sequel.

and finally:

The world around you changes seemingly overnight. The institutions you took for granted; the police, the NHS, the millitary cease to function leaving the country in a state of disarray. What do you do?

That is the question powerfully delivered by the author of this new and exciting book. Johnny Pearce cleverly uses the premise of zombies not for cheap scares or emotionless action but to test the moral fibre of an eclectic mix of characters placed in a situation far beyond their control. It is through these accurately drawn personalities that the fragility of our society is explored, through their actions, that the ethical quandaries that we can too easily shrug off are put under the spot light. The combination of this philosophical examination with exciting, tense and unpredictable story-telling make this book a must-read.

I am eagerly awaiting the next volume in what promises to be an unmissable series.

Oh, and Goodreads…

Moving from calamity to calamity, Pearce’s host of protagonists struggle to survive in a world that has become totally destroyed by a spreading viral infection. Normally, zombie stories are over-played and trite, but Pearce manages to keep this characters unique and individually interesting, and it is obvious that he put a lot of thought into the kinds of circumstances that might allow these individuals to become survivors. The scenes don’t feel “written” in the way that many novels often do–you never see the strokes of the painter, as it were. Instead, each scene progresses from the last in a way that makes sense and is consistent with the logic of a world-gone-mad. Without wanting to give too many spoilers, I can say that this book beautifully paints horror in the mundane moments, and Pearce mixes in plenty of philosophical and religious discussion without being too on-the-nose or overbearing.

In short, the book is well-crafted and should be enjoyable to anyone interested in horror, zombies, philosophy, or religion.

As with all my books, it is available from the sidebar there>>>>>>>>>>>>>> (where I get some commission if you buy from the widgets, or search from the search widget!).

Please give it a try!

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