Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dark Advent by Brian Hodge (1988): Countdown to Extinction

Cursed with an utterly absurd and completely irrelevant cover, the post-apocalyptic horror novel Dark Advent is a passably okay work, Brian Hodge's minor-league version of The Stand (1978), Alas, Babylon (1959), or Swan Song (1987). You got your germ "warfare" gone wrong, the inadvertent regular-guy heroes and opportunistic bad guys, and large-scale horror setpieces as a flawed and violent humanity struggles to rebuild after the unthinkable happens.

The story moves along all right as Hodge introduces his large cast of survivors, but by the halfway mark I just couldn't take it anymore and really skimmed over the rest. Dark Advent is not overly bad; it's actually overly nice, if that makes any sense. Hodge's tone is eager and earnest tinged with an adolescent cynicism. Guilelessness is simply not to my taste at all (perhaps if I'd read it when I was a teenager). Hodge himself noted these "rampant immaturities" in a recent blog post about an upcoming updated reprint.

Hodge still wrote in this manner in Nightlife a couple years later (the second title from the impressive Dell/Abyss line), but that novel is much more original and engaging. The cover (by an uncredited Marvel Comics' Bob Larkin) may promise something satanically cheesy but Dark Advent really isn't - nor does it feature any children lost in a wilderness of flames - but it's not a work of horror fiction that I can say you must read, unless you've just gotta read every post-apocalyptic horror novel ever till the end of the world.

Hodge himself

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