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review 2018-12-14 15:27
Swan Song
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon

I've been wanting to read a big epic novel and was pretty happy when I found Swan Song on Amazon prime. If you've been a fan of horror in the last 30 years you've heard of Robert McCammon and his almost 1,000 page book on the apocalypse. It was written in 1987 when everyone feared a nuclear war was a possibility between the U.S.S.R and the U.S. 

 

This book is a masterpiece on story telling and developing characters who are memorable and go through major transformations. The book follows several characters and is divided into three major storylines in the post-apocalypse world. In this world we have a woman called Sister Creep who was homeless living on the streets of New York; Swan, a young girl with the power to make things grow; Josh an ex wrestler and protector of Swan and Roland who was in an underground bunker when the war started.  Of the three major storys I liked Swan and Sister Creep but I found myself rushing through Roland's story so I could get back to the other two.

 

You could teach a class on novel writing with examples from this book. It may be long but it doesn't feel like it because you care about the characters and you're hoping they can find a better like in this harsh new world. This book mixes elements of fantasy into a realistic world which felt like it could be a reality if you were alive in 1987. This book also has lighter moments like when Swan and Josh enter a Kmart that has been taken over by mental patients and when the come across a circus train. Swan Song runs you through several emotions as you read it and it's hard to put down.

 

One of favorite characters in this book is Sister Creep. I love the idea that one of the main heroes of the story is a crazy woman living on the streets. As she puts it the apocalypse turns her sain again because there is no other way for her to survive this new world.  I also loves Swan who has the tendency to make everyone around her a better person but she still doesn't see herself as special. In one scene early in the book one of her mother's boyfriends stomps her flower garden, rather than getting upset she forgives him. This leaves the boyfriend in shock and shows how special Swan is.

 

This is an epic battle against good and evil set in a world that is like our own but is more bleak thanks to the power struggle between various nations. Another great reason to read this book is that the characters in it our nothing like the heroes you might find in other novels. I dont think you could ever do a movie on this book because the characters aren't the types to transfer over to a visual medium. These characters aren't pretty, they have a rough life and it keeps getting rougher as the story moves along but they keep trying to build a better life despite the odds and the despair all around them. This book is about the triumph of the human spirit and a must read for fans of epic fantasy. 

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text 2017-12-10 01:55
Robert McCammon Book Signing/THE LISTENER Preview!

Meant to post this earlier in the week but forgot. Author Robert McCammon did a reading and signing at Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, AL. on Tuesday night. It was a fun, relaxing, and informative night. Mister McCammon is incredibly nice and took the time to sign everyone’s books — even books attendees brought from home. He is one of my biggest inspirations and favorite authors. It was an honor to get to listen to him, and speak with him one on one. One of the highlights was discovering the store had in stock a first edition of Speaks the Nightbird, and getting it signed by the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-25 21:13
Swan Song ★★★★☆
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Oh boy, was this a wild, fun ride-along with characters that I loved and characters that I loved to hate. There was plenty of explicit gore, some of which actually did make me cringe and stop for a bit. But there were some truly touching moments, too. Much like the post-apocalyptic world of this book, it’s not all darkness and cruelty and death, but also some hope and love and a tiny spark of belief in humanity.

 

It’s not quite a five star read, though, because I had to work pretty hard to suspend disbelief that 

a world in which a nuclear winter lasts for 7 or 8 years, where supposedly nothing can grow, not even weeds, and all plant life has died, seems unlikely to be able to sustain any life at all. Sure, most people starved and some could survive on the remnants of canned food or rats, but what would herbivores survive on? How did they keep that horse alive, if nothing was growing? If there are no herbivores left, did the carnivores/omnivores like rats and bobcats and wolves survive just on eating each other? If there are no plants, then a significant population of insects would go extinct, wouldn’t they? The disruption of the food chain seems unlikely to have allowed survival for that long a period of time.

(spoiler show)

 But this isn’t explained or even addressed, so I wondered and doubted, and that took something away from the story for me. Although it does strike me as funny that I didn’t have the same problem with 

people growing an entire warty coating on their heads with their faces beneath becoming something entirely different that reflects their true self/soul, or non-human creatures growing extra limbs and heads, or an inhuman creature who thrives on death and destruction and performs supernatural feats, or a girl who can magically make plants grow at an accelerated pace, etc.

(spoiler show)

 Why I should fixate on the

nuclear winter

(spoiler show)

thing, I don’t know.

 

Audiobook, purchased on sale from Audible. The performance by Tom Stechschulte was absolutely fantastic. I’ll look for other books read by him. Warning, though, this is a 34 ½ hour audiobook, so you have to really love audio to consume it in this format. It’s a LOT of listening.

 

Previous Updates:

7/17/17 – 2% 

7/18/17 – 9%

7/18/17 – 16%

7/19/17 – 23%

7/22/17 – 51%

7/25/17 – 97%

 

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text 2017-07-25 13:26
Swan Song: 97%
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Wheeeeeeeeee! It's like riding a runaway mine train!

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text 2017-07-22 16:19
Swan Song: 51%
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Did the story just jump 7 years forward? That was disorienting. 

 

Comparisons with The Stand are inevitable, of course, and I was thinking how differently people, in general, were behaving in the aftermath of the apocalypse, and that McCammon must have a much darker view of humanity's essential nature than King does. Then it occurred to me that there is an enormous difference that could account for it - resources. In The Stand, a virus wipes out most of the people, but leaves nature and natural resources intact, along with most of the man-made resources, so there are few humans, but an abundance of food, shelter, and fuel. McCammon's is a nuclear apocalypse, so there seem to be more people, but scarce life-sustaining resources in a hostile natural environment. 

 

So, yeah, of course people are going to behave differently. 

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