This Week’s Prophet of Doom: Greg Dragon!

This week’s Prophet of Doom boasts a unique brand of Apocalyptic flair. Combining the best of science fiction and crime fiction, Greg Dragon creates novels that unfold with suspense, wonder and good-old fashioned dystopian dread. (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

For the uninitiated, The Judas Cypher (the first in the Synth Crisis series) may be the best place to start. It explodes with pessimistic noir like the bastard offspring of Phillip K. and Raymond Chandler. Another good choice for a Greg Dragon gateway would be his latest release, Neon Eclipse.

Copper: Your books have a very cinematic quality to them. If the Judas Cypher were adapted into a film, who do you see playing the lead role of Dhata Mays? 

Greg: Wow, I’ve never thought about this. Dhata is an imposing figure, a little over 6ft in height, and about 230lbs of augmented, middle-aged power, so the closest in look, given that and him being a close-shaven African American male, I would go with McKinley Belcher or Mustafa Shakir. They have the look I had in my mind’s eye when I imagined my detective. Mike Colter could pull it off, Jamie Hector is always playing a detective now, and we’ve seen him cold in The Wire. Dhata embodies both extremes. All this to say, whoever played him would have to toe the balance between cold-blooded and suave. Everyone I mentioned has done it in their roles; that’s why I mention them. Black leading man is a limited, coveted role in Hollywood. It’s the same two to three guys in everything for a short period, so if the decision were mine, The Judas Cypher would be a vehicle to promote the next Chadwick Boseman, someone unknown who could use Dhata to show the world their greatness. 

Copper: Without giving too much away, the Judas Cypher has ‘fake human’ characters known as synths. The book seems to express a concern for authenticity in human beings in the technology driven future. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the ability of humans to survive the onslaught of technology? 


Greg: I believe Science Fiction has always been a lens into the future, sometimes extreme, sometimes frighteningly precise. People love to cite books like 1984 for this type of thing, but we had Star Trek, where communicators were “futuristic” until smartphones became a thing. Artificial people are already here, they aren’t yet as sophisticated as Dhata’s synths or Asimov’s robots, but technology doesn’t move at a set pace. It accelerates with every discovery.  Synths will be here before we know it, and like everything else strange or outside our understanding and control, we will try to destroy them, destroy their creators, and fight the typhoon with our tiny human shields. It’s inevitable. Will it be the fall of humanity like the Matrix or I-Robot? Who knows? Will we find a way to achieve a singularity, where like in The Judas Cypher, those artificial children of ours fix enough of our world to bring in the next step in evolution? Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s an optimistic fantasy until it isn’t. I can’t answer one way or another. 

Ultimately it won’t be up to us, so that is my answer. When the AI starts building the AI and removing flaws to become something close to sentient, it will be our judge. Now, with us as the parents, which way will it go? Some of us form habits to be the opposite of our parents, and others become their parents. Schrödinger’s AI or something like that. Hopefully, this “Arch Brain” will choose to be nothing like mommy and daddy. 

Copper: When discussing writing on your blog, you’ve talked about the need for discipline. What’s your advice for maintaining discipline and focus in a world of social media bells and whistles? 

Greg: When you’re in the act of writing, think about your environment, your headspace, and the time. We’re creatures of habit, so if there are things you can replicate in your writing habits, continue to do them, and try to make writing as much a part of your day as eating and sleeping. Discipline, to me, is being serious enough about your writing that it becomes a part of your daily life, as much as watching a show on Netflix, scrolling Reddit, or playing a video game. These are all things we habitually do, so why not write? Are you being honest with yourself, or is it fear? Is it fear of rejection, fear of people laughing at your prose, fear of being mediocre? What is it?  


Publishing can be intimidating. There’s no shortage of comments online from anonymous people who speak in absolutes, tearing down popular books, shouting out “rules,” and all sorts of nastiness. It can stunt your creativity when you feel maligned and will hamper you if you let it. I’m not against brainlessly surfing writing forums and social media, but many times they could be the source of you not making that first step. Think about it. 
Whenever I get writer’s block or hemming and hawing, I have learned to sit back and consider why I’m in my way of getting my word count accomplished. Most of the time, it’s something unrelated, hampering my confidence, so I focus on that and how I can get past it to get back to writing. There is no easy way to make writing a habit, but being honest about what’s making you stop may help you get past it. Your mileage may vary. 

Copper: And finally, the most important apocalypse-related question: what one song would you need to survive the apocalypse to help maintain your sanity? 

Greg: Mobb Deep – Shook Ones, Pt. II. If I were the last survivor inside a bunker with limited ammunition, I’d imagine this song would charge me enough to do alright against the zombies or rival camp. Let’s go. 

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: A.R. Shaw!

Each week, we feature interviews with your favorite post-apocalyptic and dystopian authors, directors, screenwriters and assorted nay-saying troublemakers! (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

A.R. Shaw

Annette Shaw’s unique blend of evocative storytelling and nerdy, science-heavy backstory makes for captivating reading, as legions of dedicated fans would happily attest. Writing under A.R. Shaw, she debuted as an author in 2013 with The China Pandemic, an accidentally portentous tale of a world in peril due to a catastrophically lethal virus of sinister origin.

In the years since, she’s thrilled us with PA medical thrillers, survival stories and has even teased readers with the promise of an upcoming cozy post-apocalyptic novel!

While we ponder the debut of this intriguing sub-genre, let’s learn more about USA Today bestselling author A.R. Shaw.

Copper: You often deal with nature-related catastrophes as a theme in your books, but those catastrophes will frequently have human error or greed as their true source. When it comes to apocalyptic disasters, would you describe yourself as more fearful of humanity or nature?

A.R. I know there’s a lot to fear in the atrocities humanity is capable of, especially when they’re desperate, but I’d bet money any day of the week that Mother Nature has that one in the bag. Pompeii is a mild example. In fact, we keep finding remains of human existence much longer ago than anyone one fathomed. And the only eraser then was nature. Fear her above all others. 

Copper: The China Pandemic is a truly frightening book made all the more frightening by the way it foreshadowed the current pandemic (minus the sinister origins). As a young reader, were you influenced by any books that frightened you?

A.R. Not necessarily frightened but Yes. I was an avid reader as a child. It kept me out of trouble. Mostly historical fiction and in particular, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Surprisingly, that particular book showed me how one survives without power and by will alone. I mean, they did it back then. It was their way of life and it wasn’t really that long ago when you think about it. My grandparents parents lived with no power most of their lifetime. A little later, I was drawn to Alas Babylon, Earth Abides, and Lucifer’s Hammer. All early classics in the post-apocalyptic era. There’s something about stripping humans of all comforts and showing them what they’re made of, that intrigues me.

Copper: Has your military background as a communications radio operator influenced your approach to imagining a technologically crippled world?

 In the late eighties, I worked on radio equipment from the 40’s and 50’s at Keesler AFB and Kelly’s MARS Station. Even the buildings we worked and were housed in, were from the WWII era. And Sgt. Green, my boss at the MARS station, was sitting at my desk a year before my appointment when he was the first point of contact after a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, about 1985, that had happened three days prior to the event. Thousands died. Radio was the only way they were able to get word out for help. It was a pretty remarkable event that seems lost to history. And though radio doesn’t always work…it’s still the most reliable way of communication when the grids, satellites, and towers go down. So most definitely, my writing is influenced by my back ground. 

Copper: And finally, the most important apocalypse-related question: what one song would you need to survive the apocalypse to ensure your sanity?

A.R. Two songs, actually. Drift Away by Dobie Gray to relax and Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival when it’s on!

Check out A.R. Shaw’s Surrender the Sun series and look for a new sequel coming later this year!

Next Week’s prophet of Doom, author Greg Dragon!

Top five post-apocalyptic novels you must read before you die in a giant gaseous eruption that engulfs and annihilates the entirety of our beloved planet!

A world-shattering apocalypse may not be an appetizing idea in real life, but in the fictional realm, it has made for captivating reading for as long as readers and writers could imagine a society ablaze with horror and impending doom.

The following novels would be a great place to start for the new post-apocalyptic reader (pre-apocalyptic?). and they would also make great additions to the bookshelves of the genre’s fans who may have overlooked these modern classics.

Stephen King, The Stand

It’s hard to imagine a better place to start than King’s 1978 gem that is loaded with the kind of darkly suspenseful premise you’d expect from the best horror writer of his generation. Our nightmarish tale begins with the escape from a biological testing facility from a patient who carries a transmuted strain of a lethal virus that would annihilate nearly all of the planet’s population in less than a fortnight’s time. From there, things only get more loaded with intrigue, morbidity and social unrest. Enjoy!

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

McCarthy’s dry prose isn’t for everyone and the images he traffics in can be a bit trippy and spiritual for some, but if a deceptively simple father-son story of survival fits into your reading tastes, this is tasty stuff. 

This Pulitzer prize winner could not be described as a thrill a minute, but it creates enough tension to compensate for the relative lack of action. 

World War Z, Max Brooks

You’d expect a book by a Saturday Night Live alum and scion of comedy guru Mel Brooks to be chock full of laughs — especially when it’s absurdly titled ‘An Oral History of the Zombie War.’ But Brooks mostly plays it straight, treating a world under siege by subhuman creatures with all the solemnity the real thing would warrant. 

Not as action-packed as the movie, Brook’s novel is more reflective, sad and emotionally drained than anything Hollywood would dare concoct. 

I am Legend, Richard Matheson

Yes, this is the book that movie is based on, but trust me, even if you’ve seen the Will Smith vehicle, you’ve only gotten a nibble of Matheson’s brilliantly chilling read. For all the terror of a world overrun by killer vampires, the true monster here is loneliness, a threat that a lesser scribe would have obscured by cheap jump scares and gimmicks. 

The Atlantis Gene, A.G. Riddle

Not as well-known as the others on this list, but in a perfect world, it would be. Riddle’s thrilling tale evokes a world on the verge of complete catastrophic implosion. The nerdy realm of epidemiology has never made for a more raucous ride. 

Most compelling here is the way the villain keeps shifting, with Mother Nature herself initially seeming to be the culprit until we learn of a sinister cabal of science-minded miscreants who created the viral strain that threatens the earth’s very existence. If you’re a fan of the genre, your collection of PA classics isn’t complete if you don’t own this. If you’re not a fan, this book will help you understand how wrong you’ve been all these years.

This Week’s Prophet of Doom: JK Franks!

Each week we feature interviews with your favorite post-apocalyptic authors, directors, screenwriters and assorted nay-saying troublemakers! (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

JK Franks

This week’s Prophet of Doom, is a busy man. In addition to being a technologist, graphic designer and business owner, JK Franks crafts captivating science fiction of all genres, but most notably, post-apocalyptic fiction.

Catalyst: Downward Cycle could be thought of as his gateway novel. Not only was it his first published work of fiction, it also serves as a strong portal into his work in the PA genre.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the work and the mind of this week’s Prophet of Doom, JK Franks:

Copper: What was it about the genre of science fiction that drew you into it?

JK | I grew up during the space race and fell in love with everything scientific. I started reading Danny Dunn sci-fi series in school and moved on to Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Herbert and others. I found that I loved the stories that were near-future and based on real science the best.

I am a big believer in “What if…” Really great science fiction is a true story, that just hasn’t happened yet. It takes those science facts and stretches them to the limit of believability yet still keeps it grounded in ways that all of us can identify with,

Copper: What about post-apocalyptic in particular?

JK | I like strong characters and action that doesn’t need a lot of build-up. Post Apoc allows us to put characters instantly in extreme situations. That is when the truth tends to shine through, good or bad. I’ve always had a fascination with the post-apocalyptic genre. While most people assume Post Apoc stories are about the catastrophe and the worst of humanity I think the opposite is true. They are ultimately about hope; hope even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Copper: Having been born and raised in the south, would you say there were any southern writers who influenced your style and approach to writing?

JK | Not as many as you might think. My Sci Fi authors were from all over However, my first novel was inspired by both Pat Frank (Alas Babylon) and William R. Forsythin (One Second After) both transplanted southerners. While not Sci-Fi I am also a huge Pat Conroy fan and set one of my books in his hometown of Beuafort, SC. Another of my more recent favorites is Hugh Howey (Wool) who I believe is from Charleston.

Copper Smith: Your books have a cinematic quality to them in terms of their vividness and the urgent sense of storytelling. Where there any post-apocalyptic films that influenced you?

JK | I think I just have a very visual way of thinking and writing. I have to see the scenes and characters play out in my head before I can put them on paper. I could never be a pure plotter/outliner. I do love movies but not to the same degree as books and rarely do I find any post-apocalyptic that I feel are done terribly well. Many tend to focus on the world-ending disaster when what really matters is the characters; what they are willing to do to survive? How quickly can they adapt? Do they need to go alone or join forces? Also, I like smart characters on both side of the moral equation and movies rarely present that level of depth to any of the roles. Two I will mention are The Road and A Quiet Place. I thought they were exceptionally well done.

Copper Smith: And for our most important apocalypse related question, what one song would you like to survive the apocalypse?

JK | If you read any of my books you know I am a huge music fan jazz, blues, rock and I hope (almost) all of them survive, I should go cliché and say Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. I did name my son after a line in the song but staying true to my inner survivor I have to say ‘In the End’ by Linkin Park.

Check out Catalyst, the first book in JK’s Downward Cycle series!

Next week’s Prophet of Doom: author AR Shaw!

Stay in touch, Copperheads!

You’ll get updates and previews of new books, plus links to anything fun, captivating and scandalous related to the post-apocalyptic world!

Post-apocalyptic Non-fiction?

As we lurch further and further into a future of danger, chaos and growing uncertainty, has the idea of post-apocalyptic fiction began to feel less and less fictional? And not just because of the continued threat of COVID, but also the panic and cultural upheaval that has accompanied it. 

It doesn’t help matters that talk of an upcoming vaccine, far from quelling the political storm, has simply nudged the storm in a different direction, spurring on the rhetoric of anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and — surprise! — political opportunists

Allow me to move the topic to a selfish place: What does all this mean to fiction writers?

If Amazon’s book charts are any indication, the pandemic’s deadly spread has been a boon to writers of viral apocalypse novels. Apparently, people like reading deadly fictional tales that mirror the real-file horror of our daily lives. Does this make sense?

It’s not usually the case that people like fiction that close to home. I’ve known a few war veterans in my life and none seemed eager to immerse themselves in the fictional accounts of violent conflict. Nor do most abuse survivors relish tales of violence and torture. 

Maybe it’s different when the apocalypse is happening generally to the world, but not to you and your family or circle of friends. 

It seems to me that people like fiction that hits close to home — but not too close. 

What do you think?

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