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Eliot Pattison | The Frightening Normalcy of Apocalypse

Ashes Of The Earth
Eliot Pattison



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Powell's Books


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April 2011
On Sale: April 1, 2011
Featuring: Hadrian Boone
370 pages
ISBN: 1582436444
EAN: 9781582436449
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Also by Eliot Pattison:
Freedom's Ghost, October 2023
The King's Beast, April 2020
Bones of the Earth, April 2019
Skeleton God, March 2017

In my many dialogues about ASHES OF THE EARTH I have discovered a remarkable, though sometimes reluctant, resonance among others about post-apocalyptic scenarios. I expected that initial reactions from readers would be along the lines of “why select such a dismal context?” or “why would you want to spend so much time in such a dark, unlikely place?” –but that has not been the case.  Instead many readers seem almost eager to offer their personal view of the post-apocalyptic world. They don’t reject the notion that such scenarios are a real possibility, they want to explain their own version of what that world would be like. Apparently we have lived so many years with the Doomsday Clock set at five minutes to midnight that the apocalypse has taken on a familiar aspect. We may often treat discussion of the apocalypse as taboo but it is uncanny –even alarming—that so many of us are thinking about it.

I have been truly amazed at how many people harbor ready, well-considered views on what post-apocalyptic geographies would be safe, what technologies would endure, what types of people would be most likely to survive, or even what food survivors would be eating. This may not be a topic for dinner table discussion but it is one that many of us have harbored secret thoughts about, often in great detail. Realizing that I have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about such scenarios tends to make others ready to divulge these dark secrets. I have become their post-apocalyptic confessor.


Edgar Award winning Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica. An international lawyer by training, Pattison first combined his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in fiction writing in THE SKULL MANTRA, which launched the popular Inspector Shan series. Pattison's fascination with the 18th century American wilderness and its woodland Indians led to the launch of his second critically acclaimed Bone Rattler series. The author's newest work, ASHES OF THE EARTH, marks the launch of his third series, set in post-apocalyptic America. A former resident of Boston and Washington, Pattison resides on an 18th century farm in Pennsylvania with his wife, three children, and an ever-expanding menagerie of animals. For more info on the author, please visit: www.eliotpattison.com

What is your vision of a post-apocalypse world? Tell us for a chance to win your own copy of ASHES OF THE EARTH and THE BONE RATTLER.




25 comments posted.

Re: Eliot Pattison | The Frightening Normalcy of Apocalypse

The sad thing is that I really think movies and/or books that deal with post-apocalyptic world aren't just wild fictions in the end and that in fact worlda presented there (apart from the zombies, maybe) will be spot on.
(Birgit Lehner 7:01am May 17, 2011)

i think that in a post-apocalyptic world there most likely would not be anyone that survived. if the first blast did not kill them then the nuclear winter and contaminated food and water would. i think that within a very short time of the attacks all people would be gone. i know that sounds very pessimistic but as we tend to group together in cities and towns that make easy targets it is a reasonable conclusion.
(Tammy Ramey 10:44am May 17, 2011)

I think it's going to be a place I wouldn't want to be. People will mostly go back to their primordial ways. Everything will have to be reinvented but the Earth will have been scarred. Possibly pockets of people will again replenish the Earth but it's going to be a long hard haul.
(Jeanne Sheats 1:03pm May 17, 2011)

Personally I wouldn't want to be around to see it; I am not a survivor type; I am not handy with tools, mechanics, anything like that and I enjoy a comfortable, warm life. I think it would be terrifying. I do think people would become more strong because of necessity and do things that they would never have dreamed of (could I be one of them, perhaps, but I hope I will never find out).
(Jody Hollenbeck 1:26pm May 17, 2011)

This may very well come to pass. People will have to relearn all of the things that we seem to have forgotten in our never ending search for more technology. We need to get back to basics.
(Kris Bowers 1:31pm May 17, 2011)

Post-apocalyptic imagery is popular those who read science fiction and fantasy which I do but have no visions at present. I do not think I want to be around at that time
(Shirley Younger 1:48pm May 17, 2011)

I recently watched a TV show called Life After People and it
fits what my image of a true post apocalypse Earth would be.
(Ilona Fenton 2:23pm May 17, 2011)

Thank you for your post, Eliot Pattison. Your new novel sounds like one that really pushes the envelope. The cover art is quite evocative.

I live in a small town in the Bible Belt. Here most of the talk of the Apocalypse is the Christian fundamentalist kind, the End of Days as described in the prophetic books of the Bible and cut-and-pasted into the timeline of dispensationalism.

In this scenario, there's no use preparing for a post-apocalyptic world. Either you're saved and you'll go to Heaven in the Rapture, or you're damned and must endure the miseries of the Tribulation, and eventually go to Hell. And the end is always said to be near, despite the dismal record of doomsday prophecy.

Of course, I don't see the future that way. I don't know whether an apocalypse will take place.

But if it does, my guess is that it will be an event few if any of us can foresee, and nobody will prepare for. How prepared were the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for getting A-bombed?

Recently I was asked in a Facebook poll how I thought the world would end, with a bang or a whimper. I replied, neither. It will end with a great shout of "That's not my responsibility!"

Good luck with "Ashes of the Earth".
(Mary Anne Landers 2:29pm May 17, 2011)

Just the thought of living in a post apocalyptic time scares me. With present times being so machine dependant, would we be able to survive without knowing simple basics.
(Rosemary Simm 3:46pm May 17, 2011)

This scares me so much, not for me, but my children. I would not like to see them hurt or end up fighting to live like some do in the movies about this type of afterwar.
(Shonda Abercrombie 4:23pm May 17, 2011)

Fight for survival. Brutality & death. Unpleasant would be an understatement.
(Mary Preston 6:01pm May 17, 2011)

To get started I have to consider what happened and what is likely to remain. A nuclear type apocalypse would have major damage to buildings in some places. Remaining people would mostly have some degree of radiation sickness. Breakdown of government would present law & order issues ranging from theft to murder. I would expect bands of people living in a tribal structure for protection and provision of necessities of life.
(Carol Drummond 6:45pm May 17, 2011)

Perhaps a post apocalyptic world might consist of survivors who have mutated. The very fact that they can survive under horrendous conditions would change their makeup and humans as we once knew them would no longer exist - would there be any hope for reversal? Boy did I just go way out there :) Maybe this is one of those "wild fictions" someone mentioned earlier.
(Linda Leonard 7:08pm May 17, 2011)

hey i got to congrats you on doing what you did you took the time and the effort and got them done and i hope to be able to read them and tell you how i love the books keep up the good onw
(Desiree Reilly 8:23pm May 17, 2011)

I wouldn't be surprised at apocalyptic events. We seem to be progressing towards events that almost inevitably will end in earth- and life-changing events. For me, all I would need is my veggies, fruits and bread and I can survive.
(Sigrun Schulz 9:00pm May 17, 2011)

As long as people wonder about themselves, their beliefs, I think they will often question what the future holds- being a blank, empty slate can often cause groups to fill that emptiness with the images or even beliefs that certain dates, symbols, historic moments hold the "key" to the end, to the apocalypse - which is really just man's general fear of mortality, don't you think?
(Carla Carlson 9:55pm May 17, 2011)

The thought of the post-apocalypse is scary. It's sad and depressing. We as a human races always look for fault of each other. Looking for the best in mankind is fleeting. But then again, what is hope if we can not change the future for the best.
(Kai Wong 10:05pm May 17, 2011)

I saw a show on tv called Life After Humans and I have always thought that would be the world post apocalypse.
(Jennifer Beyer 10:27pm May 17, 2011)

Looks like a book I would truly enjoy. I love books that are thought-provoking, and also frightening. Definately a book I want to read! :)
(Gillian Sawaged 10:50pm May 17, 2011)

At this point, I'm really not sure what to expect, other than a bit of chaos at the beginning. Whomever is going to survive is going to be in for the fight of their lives to exist, and will be foraging for food and water to survive, if they haven't stockpiled anything for themselves. I know a lot of people have already started to prepare underground bunkers for themselves. I don't know if the earth will even be inhabitable, or if it will be radioactive or scorched. Time will tell. I suppose we'll just have to work together and help each other to a degree, and start to rebuild a new republic similar to what we had, but better. I am very anxious to read your book, and pass it along to my Husband as well.
(Peggy Roberson 10:51pm May 17, 2011)

I'd hope we would get back to whats important not so much stuff.
(Catherine Myers 11:05pm May 17, 2011)

You know, I really don't have a vision of what it would look like in a post-
apocalyptic world because I've never felt it a possibility. But recently I've
absolutely LOVED reading all the dystopic/post-apocalyptic fiction coming
out, especially in YA! The Road was one of the first such books I read. Then
The Hunger Games and it's a trilogy that made me a fan of the YA genre
equivalent. I'm now reading Divergent and looking forward to the next Justin
Cronin book:) I just can't seem to get enough!
There's just someth
(Bella Franco 1:08am May 18, 2011)

I think it is harder now for us to imagine, as we have gotten so dependent on our technology. I feel that it really depends on what happens. If it is due to a pandemic, societies will again form, but it will be hard, because we have lost so many skills. It would be worse if it is due to a volcano, asteriod or nuclear incident. I think there is a very dark side to humanity. It really doesn't take much for it to come out.
(Debbie Penny 7:32am May 19, 2011)

I think it is inevitable that a true calamity is going to hapen sooner or later. But we have less to fear from nature than our neighbors. I can put things by, but probably can't defend my supplies--or deny the hungry folks at my door. -- Love your Shan mysteries! They have made Tibet real to me. I look forward to reading your new book.
(Janet Martin 4:39pm May 19, 2011)

I can't een begin to go down that road. By paying attention to what we are generate in our own lives, we can begin to see how we are all connected together in this world and possible ways to keep civilized.
(Alyson Widen 5:14pm May 21, 2011)

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