One of the hallmarks of post apocalypse stories is that things go from bad to worse on a very regular basis. But most of them start off in the fairly familiar, fairly common world and something goes terribly wrong-zombies, atomic war, pandemic plague, EMP, or just some mysterious something that puts an end to life as we know it.
But rarely have I seen a mysterious something else quite as odd as the one used in Total Oblivion-More or Less. The Earth finds itself over run by hordes of barbarian Scythians and people from something like the Roman Empire. But the barbarians are not the worst of the new world’s problems-there is also a plague which turns people into paper once they are stung by a wasp.
Our hero on this journey through a world gone mad is a 16 year old girl and her fairly odd family. We follow her as she goes down the Mississippi river and tries to adjust to the ever changing world, survive endless battles, and try to find out the truth about a rogue submarine. The surface of the earth has changed, the stars in the sky have changed, Mars seems to be missing.
There is not much of a plot, it’s mostly a road trip with a few odd side trips along the way. As with a lot of sci fi, there is never any explanation as to why or how the world has changed.
One of my minor gripes is a stylist one, Alan Deniro forgoes the common practice of using quotation marks, which is a bit annoying. I like being able to tell when someone is talking and who is doing the talking. There are still a lot of I saids and she saids and the like, but no quotation marks. I’m not sure if he was trying to imply that quotation marks had also vanished from the world or that a 16 year old girl never learned to write very well.
There are a lot of shocking things going on in Total Oblivion, some of them fun, some of them pointless, and most of them kind of random. It was a fun read, and did remind me a bit of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, which also featured a world filled weird unexplainable events. I liked it and it is a great example of how the standard issue post apocalypse story can be tweaked into something new.