Tales From the Radiation Age

Jason Sheehan
Tales From the Radiation Age Cover

Tales From the Radiation Age


Loved, loved, loved this book, and a big reason is the world building. The action is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the government is mostly absent and technology consists of what you can gather from junk heaps and duct-tape together. The descriptions were so vivid I could picture every lopsided, Frankenstein machine in all its glory.

"Our ride looked like an end-of-year welding project at a school for drunken malcontents and multiple amputees."

"Of course I had a phone. Had three of them, actually, of varying vintages and levels of functionality, because, seriously, what was this, Nepal? The West was having itself a nice, civilized, apocalypse, thank you very much!"

Another big plus was the narrator. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Nick Podehl and he was fantastic. Of course, it helped that the source material was crazily imaginative, extremely funny and wickedly complicated. But Mr. Podehl, channeling Captain Reynolds--and a little John Wayne--gave the whole piece a Firefly aura. Dangerous territory, trying to walk in the huge footsteps of Joss Whedon, but Sheehan does it and succeeds spectacularly. Here's a great example of the Firefly-esque dialog:

"It occurs to me that a man is having a certain kind of a conversation when he intimates that a man with no gun needs one. But a very different kind when he tells a man with one gun that he needs more."

But behind all the fun and games--and there are a lot of those--lies a very serious plot that runs straight through from beginning to end. Watching the author spin his tale was, at many points, like watching an incredibly skilled juggler. There are so many balls up in the air that at times I wondered if the author had lost track of what he was doing, but then the plot would reappear, and all the craziness would be revealed as having an actual purpose in furthering the plot.

We never do completely understand how the world got the way it is--the protagonist insists that civilization "jumped the shark" when Siri started talking to us and we talked back--but we are treated to one of the most insane battles ever imagined as the heroes try to make the world right again. The description of the battle is masterful and reminded me strongly of early Neal Stephenson. The Neal Stephenson of "Cryptonomicon" who actually knew when to go into full on detail mode and when "the rest is just a car chase."

It's hard to find out much about Jason Sheehan, but apparently he was a restaurant critic and food editor at Philadelphia Magazine. I, for one, hope this book gets enough attention so that Jason is able to keep on writing. I can't wait to see the next idea that comes out of his fertile imagination.