Petra is unique in the apocalyptic genre, in that it details the apocalyptic events of a future society set on a distant planet. It follows the journeys of people who get introduced slowly over the course of the book, starting with the Bot. As we listen in on its private calculations about the human race (or Allendian race), we learn that the Bot has no name, but a mission. A mission that involves extermination of those infected with the flu (a deadly fatal flu) in order to ultimately protect humanity. It is a riveting beginning to a tale that starts and ends at the same place.
A couple chapters in, and we are introduced to Sidney. Sidney is the pivot on which the story revolves. The ten-year-old orphan who plucks on the heartstrings and wires of all those around her. With a plucky attitude, the naivete from having been alone since she was 8, and her gizzard-eating survival instincts; Sidney is a joy to experience. Her little world is laid bare for us to fall into, and absorb it we do. Every aspect of her person – her heartbreak from losing her Nayne, her simple childish joy at watching eyes change colour, and her strong decision making – make her a deeply compelling character.
“Anything but bird,” is the first thing that pops out of her mouth. “Or rodent or lizard or…”
The woman laughs out loud as Sidney continues listing the things she doesn’t want to eat, all the things she’s eaten all her life that she’s had more than her share of, thank you very much.
“or gizzards,” is the final part.
When the bot meets Sidney, it gets a name. One guess what it is. This is when we start to see that 200 years of different types of programming, can overlap and reconfigure itself when children are at stake. It is beautiful watching the love that Petra begins to feel, and how she adapts her programming in response to it.
But until this point, the Allendian apocalypse sounds like a dream. Scavenging for bird nests for eggs, cuddling robot cats, escaping bots and dreaming of vaults full of food. That is, until we meet Henry. With Henry comes the perspective of a 40 something adult who has lived through the end of the world. He has witnessed first hand, the devastation the flu has truly had on Allendian society. While Sidney has managed to keep mainly to herself, Henry never had that privilege and was recruited at a young age as a raider, after losing his entire family. We see in him the shame of his past, his guilt, his regret, and ultimately, his hope for redemption through his new found saviours.
“I was still little when it all happened,” he says. “Everyone around me started getting sick. Then they were dying. I was taken away before it got really bad.”
All in all, Petra was a very thought provoking read, with a balance to the feel of the book that is rare. Stone has a knack for creating characters that have hearts, and for writing a road that you wish wouldn’t end. An easy to read book, with difficult moments and an ending worthy of a good cry with some hot chocolate.
2 – 4
1 / 3?
4½ / 5
Books in Series
You can find the eBook for Petra on Kindle and iTunes, and a physical copy can be picked up from Amazon. Check out the 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited while you’re at it.
The last decade has seen the Werewolf come second in mythic-creature-pop-culture after the Vampire (thanks Twilight), but “How To Be A Werewolf” definitely gives them a run for their money. This telling of the werewolf is deep, full of monochromatic beauty that captures moments of emotional upheaval, while also telegraphing serious issues surrounding anxiety and abuse.
Malaya Walters is 25 (already a treat that we aren’t starting with a stereotypical 16 year old). She has been a Werewolf for 20 years, a Werewolf without a wolfpack. She has her family, her work as a barista, but that has pretty much been it. There hasn’t been anyone to show her the ropes, until a weird customer comes sniffing around. Literally sniffing. Thus begins her sort-of-lessons on “How To Be A Werewolf”.
What follows from then is far from the usual broody teenage werewolf trope. Instead, we are introduced to an established were-world of politics, dayjobs for supernatural characters, awkward attempts at seeming intimidating (from both the heroes and the ‘villains’), multiple flashback sequences to when everyone looked young and idealistic, and a lot of adorable humour. There are even some pretty cool fight sequences from time to time. Although most of the fights are 90% lunging at each other. They are wolves after all.
This webcomic ticks so many boxes – technically, emotionally, artistically, responsibly. Each page is cohesively organised for a smooth unjarring flow, and has moved the story along further in 2 years than some others have in 4. Shawn Lenore’s writing passes both the Bechdel and DuVernay tests for racial and feminine inclusivity, while also having various LGBT characters amongst the cast. She also plans to steer away from a main character romance trap in which only coupled people are happy people – instead focussing on Malaya’s personal growth and fulfilment as an individual. There are complex backstories behind every decision made – good and bad – showcasing a reality of grey. There are no simple ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in this comic, just people trying to live by whatever means possible. ‘Evil’ isn’t really a thing in HTBAW… yet…
What’s more, Ms Lenore’s attention to detail is a treat for obsessive senses. At one point, Elias changes out of his ripped clothing. Most creators would simply leave non-plot-related details undrawn (time and effort saving is understandable); but not this creator. We get to see the process realistically, rather than witness a magical clothes disappearance. These are the details that speak to Shawn’s respect for staging, worldbuilding and her audience. Particularly her audience, as she is frequently seen breaking the 4th wall interacting in the comments section of the site. If the story could finally steer into an actual full werewolf lesson, that would make everything perfect.
The comic updates every Tuesday and Wednesday. Head on over to HowToBeAWerewolf.com to check it out. Once you’re done binge reading HTBAW, you can vote for the comic on TopWebComics to get sneak peeks such as this one:
Everyday Carry (EDC) tools are the essentials that you bring with you out on the job, to social events, in case of an emergency – pretty much anywhere and everywhere. As such, making sure that your EDC is ultralight is par for the course. Phone wallet cases combine 2 of your bulkiest items into 1, and force you to take a good hard look at all the membership cards you’ve been lugging around (pro tip: download stocard , an app for your many store cards).
To help you on your way to an ultralight EDC, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best iPhone Wallet cases on the market today. Our base selection criteria was for the case to be able to hold at least 4 cards, not have cards face the phone screen (which can scratch your screen over time), and not distort camera flash. Everything else each of these cases can do, well those are just bonuses.
The Bellroy Wallet Case is hands down our favourite case, for being able to store 5 cards in such a gorgeous slim design.
What we love: Magnetic closure for the flap, 5 card storage, Sim & Pin storage, vertical stand, ability to speak on the phone with the flap closed, longest warranty of 3 years, microfiber lining and gorgeous leatherwork.
What could be better: It would have been quite simple for Bellroy to add some wrist strap holes to the design for those seeking extra security, particularly as this particular model doesn’t include any shock absorption features if dropped. In fact, we suggested it to them a year ago. So, we’ll see.
Bullettrain got their start on Kickstarter, where they premiered their first iteration of the Safe Wallet. It advertises as being slimmer than a sharpie, and full of perks.
What we love: Discreet card storage, extra key storage on + models, Sim & Pin storage, hidden stashes under the case, easy card removal, bottom located wrist strap holes and raised edge protection. The Safe Wallet was our go to for the iPhone 5/5s and 6+/6s+ models. These two are both great cases and fit five cards as promised.
What could be better: Unfortunately, their third iteration, the 6/6s model, was plagued with issues. While their polycarbonate casing is meant to be strong enough to withstand drops, the thinner ares around the buttons and door locks tend to break over time, and would have been much better served by a rubber/silicone material. This model was also the only one out of the three that does not fit five cards if even one of them is a raised-letters credit card. The pen also let us down – running dry after 3 months. Lastly, the decision to go with polycarbonate on all the 6 models resulted in a slick case, that falls out of hands and off tables quite easily. Grip Tape/Inslips recommended to deal with this.
This is one of those things that seem like magic. Mega Tiny corp has produced a MEGAVERSE Anti-Gravity Wallet iPhone Case that uses nano suction to stick onto non-porous surfaces. Stick on their 4 card leather wallet and you’re good to go.
What we love: Nano-suction technology, swappable backplates (mirror, wallet, bottle opener), 4 card storage, reinforced bumpers, matte edges, dockable, wrist strap hackable, lightweight and super slim.
What could be better: The nano-suction can get weaker over time, but a little bit of water can clean it right off. It isn’t a very reinforced case, and so you shouldn’t get this case if you are prone to dropping your phone. You will need a screen protector, as the lip around the case isn’t very tall.
Distil Union’s Wally Case is a simple idea well executed. There are many cases out there that make reaching your cards a pain. The Wally Pull-Tab™ changes that by combining a discreet wallet with ease of access.
What we love: 3 card storage (4 if leather is stretched), Wally Pull-Tab™ secret wallet, TPU shock-absorbing bumper case, push through volume buttons for extra protection, the pull-tab is washable, and the leather – who doesn’t like leather?
What could be better: If you decide stretch Wally out to 4 cards , you can’t go back down to 3. And really, you can still kinda see the cards. Screen protector is recommended as the edges aren’t particularly tall.
ZVE has produced a quality leather case, that doesn’t even have a fancy name. The ZVE wallet case with kickstand is extremely tempting for being a slim case that can hold six cards for only US$17.
What we love: SIX card storage, kickstand with a slip resistant band, magnetic closure for kickstand, resilient ribbon for card accessibility, full frame molded rubber bumper for shock absorption, wrist strap hackable, and supposedly it won’t stay stretched out if you go from 6 cards back down to 1.
What could be better: Honestly it’s hard to fault the ZVE case. It isn’t quite as attractive as some of the other cases on this list, but it is the most practical.
Of all these companies, Vaultskin is the one that acheived the impossible. A slim iPhone case with storage for EIGHT cards, in the Vaultskin Eton Armour Wallet Case.
What we love: EIGHT card storage, awesome looking logo (I mean, it’s a shield!), molded rubber bumper for shock absorption, magnetic closure for the 6 card hidden slot, 2 card pocket for accessibility/pay&go capabilites, nice grip to the soft leather and possibly RFID-blocking capabilities (we’ve reached out to Vaultskin to seek confirmation).
What could be better: You don’t receive the easiest access to the 6 cards that are hidden in the middle of the case. There also aren’t any + model cases, so + model carriers lose out on this eight card heaven. The base is also less protected than the ZVE case, but it claims that the leather back provides extra cushioning in case of drops. The 2 card pocket can be a bit tight, requiring a bit more of a push to ensure it doesn’t obscure the camera. Also, no wrist strap holes.
What we love: Best protection with a feather-light impact resistant core that meets military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6), oversized tactile buttons, rubber honeycomb interior, flexible sides to make it easier to get the phone on and off, third-party compatible cable openings, all with storage for 4 cards.
What could be better: If it could hold just 1 more card, this would be the perfect case. It is so protected, you could bash a zombie with it and come away happy as Larry. Unless the zombie was Larry. But before that scenario comes along, we’ll have to stick to 5 card minimum cases. Other than that, it is large. Which means it won’t be as easy to slip into pockets as some of the slim cases above.
As a Tabletop Geek, the best place to source unique and often high-quality games is Kickstarter. The crowdfunding platform has become the web market of choice for many, as it provides creators with the chance to improve the quality of their game production through exceeding their targets, and also gives might-have-never-otherwise-been-produced games a chance to shine. This week, we’re highlighting 7 we think are worthy of attention, that also happen to all have solo gameplay.
Escape The Dark Castle has an easy to read Kickstarter page, a nice £25 base pledge and 8 stretch goals already unlocked. It is a cooperative adventure where you and your fellow prisoners attempt to escape a castle filled with nasty surprises, created by fledling company Themeborne. The fact that one death means the whole group loses really encourages prisoners to support one another. Each game is played over 15 chapters ending with a boss encounter. With 53 chapter cards (45 + 8 from stretch goals) and 5 boss cards (3 + 2), Escape The Dark Castle promises to be replayable, accessible and quick. Bonus, the art style is filled with nostalgia, though a tad monochrome. Great playthrough video available to view here put together by the folks over at Beasts Of War.
Often choose to go rogue? If so, you have to check out Triplock – it’s gorgeous. If you like solo games, have been looking for something to play with your partner, or simply lust after high quality components, get this before it ends in 18 days. Triplock is a memory game of rotating, flipping and swapping stacks of locks around, all to be the one that breaks through that final master lock. There are currently 11 stretch goals unlocked and 1 expansion pack to add on. My only very weak complaint is the free print-and-play downloads of all future expansion packs that Chip Theory Games is offering. Why? Free is nice, but who would ever print these cards on a home printer, after being spoilt by PVC card quality? Creators Josh and Adam filmed a 20-minute playthrough for anyone interested here.
Just… the raft. If for nothing else, back it for the raft. And the dog. Solo play includes adding Scruffs the dog! But you shouldn’t have to make your decision to spend €32 just on a dog and a raft, because there is a lot more about 21 Days to like. The dice placement mechanic seems to be well balanced against the tension of surviving on an ever-shrinking raft, and designer Erik Winkelman has also given us all the tropes you look for in these situations, such as sharks and floating bottles. While the kickstarter page looks a bit rough around the edges, the actual gameplay looks solid – as you can see from this video here.
Lucidity: Six-sided Nightmares is the second project to come out of Fox Tale Games. Based on the theory of lucid dreaming, this game asks players to choose to either embrace or escape their nightmares. Play it safe, or become the nightmare. Consume someone else’s points, or push someone closer to becoming a nightmare themselves. The fact that you can gain skills and choose dice in this press your luck game, gives it a nice edge of strategy. The 11 stretch goals unlocked thus far, have been mainly component-quality focused. However an expansion pack is possible if they reach $45,000. Unfortunately there isn’t a playthrough video, but there are at least 6 reviews on youtube.
Helionox: Deluxe Edition is a sharp deck builder that can be played in either competitive, cooperative or solo modes. Zeroic Games is an example of a company that learns from its backers; what works, what doesn’t work. They got rid of confusing marketing strategies for this campaign, repackaging Helionox: The Last Sunsetwhich funded on July 4th, 2015 as a Deluxe Edition that includes the new expansion Mercury Protocol. No expensive add-ons, just 11 generously amazing stretch goals (so much wood!). And just to put it out there, the art in Helionox by Luke Green is everything you wished was in Terraforming Mars – cohesive, futuristic, beautiful. Full gameplay video here.
This is the second go round for Critters Below, an interesting take on animal survivors of the apocalypse. A party game where you can either join up or backstab your friends to survive the apocalypse is pretty cool, but one where you can also play on your own? That’s almost its own category. Antler Games has managed to produce a game where you get to hoard items that keep you from death, is language independent, allows more than 1 winner, includes hidden information, has events every round and can result in player death. All this with compelling art in a tin, with really tempting stretch goals to come – I mean the printing on that card case… Full gameplay video here.
Exquisite handicrafts from the Oaxacan culture are what draws the eye to this game. On the other hand, the siege and tableu building are what truly peaked our interest. There are a lot of combo possibilities in this game that reward the long-game gamer. Additionally, having customers in the solo variant is a great way to spice up solo play. Only 5 stretch goals unlocked so far, but one of those is a whole mini expansion. 2-player run through by Rahdo can be viewed here.
Very few games that aren’t story-focused provide immersive and engaging solitaire modes for players. These 7 may just change that narrative.
Bruno Faidutti’s Citadels relaunched as Citadels Deluxe edition late in 2016. Winrider Games decided to include the Dark City expansion and a whole lot of extras into one Deluxe box with the base game, all for less than you would have to spend on them separately (A$45 vs. A$55). And the results, are amazing.
Before and After
As compared to the 2000 ‘creepier’, more dour Classic version, Winrider Games have produced a lighter, more vibrant and noble theme for Citadels Deluxe. They redesigned the art on the box and cards, upped their graphics, integrated borderless artwork on all the cards, fine tuned the mechanics, rewrote the rulebook, threw out some broken (not designed by Bruno) cards, and brought it all back together into one beautiful package.
This new edition comes with 27 characters, rather than just the original 8, hugely improving replayability. There is now a lot more room for players to tweak the game to their personal preferences. When we sit down to play, everyone starts by insisting on particular characters they want included in the game. This replayability is further enhanced by the 30 unique districts found in Deluxe version, a huge bonus over the original 14 (our gaming group has sometimes included all the unique districts, instead of just 14 – to spice things up a little).
The key brilliance to Citadels is the interaction between players. When characters such as the thief can take your gold, or a magician can target a player hoarding districts, there can be no doubt as to the “take that” element rife within the game mechanics – particularly when the social deduction aspect comes into play. However, this can cause the game to take a turn for the petty, when revenge seekers come a calling. Gamers who prefer to play without this element should probably avoid Citadels as a whole.
I really enjoyed this version of Citadels. It is far more streamlined than the original. However, the one flaw that the Deluxe version has yet to overcome, is the long drafting phase. Contracting analysis paralysis during these moments is fairly common, as the character you choose could be the difference between a good or bad turn. Many a player who has finished their draft can be found staring at their smartphone screens in zombie-like trances while they wait. On the other hand, overall game time has sped up. This is most likely as a result of the changeover from some of the more gimmicky cards (ballroom district), to districts that help you build faster or more efficiently (framework district).
Citadels is a city-building game, in which you are able to use different characters to help you achieve your goal – having the best city. The game ends when someone has built 7/8 districts, and the person with the fanciest (highest scoring) city wins.
Simply put, score the most points to win. There are 2 phases to Citadels. The first is the drafting phase, in which each player chooses a character to use, starting with the Crowned player. Once everyone has chosen a character (or 2 characters each in 2-3 player games), we move on to the turn phase. Everyone starts the game with 2 gold and 4 districts in hand. On your turn, you first choose to either grab 2 more gold, or draw 2 districts and keep 1. After gathering your resources, you get to build 1 district. You also get to use your character ability as specified on your card.
There are a few different ways to score in Citadels. The first is your districts. Building a low cost district can seem tempting at the start of the game when you are low on gold, but a district that costs 2 gold to build, is only worth 2 points at the end of the game. Similarly, build a 6 gold district, and you have 6 end game points waiting for you. Pretty simple math. Then, there is set collection. Build one of every type of district (noble, religious, trade, military and unique) for 3 points, or be the first to finish your city for 4 points (2 points for coming in second). Lastly, every unique card in the game has a special ability, ranging from giving you extra points for building odd numbered districts, to helping you build at a reduced cost. Use the unique buildings to score big.
If you have your eye on the long game, and someone looks close to finishing their city and bringing about the end game turn, choose Rank 8 characters to possibly destroy one of their districts. Another option is to steal all their district cards with the magician, or their gold with the thief. The possibilities abound with the different characters.
For a more in-depth understanding of how to play, check out our handy links section for the pdf of the rulebook.
Old school epic fantasies about underdogs rising up have been my go to since The Wheel Of Time started spinning. Helm is a high fantasy series that centers on an awkward college dropout whose every action and decision will shape the future of the world he lives in. And what a beautiful world at that.
Eldrick Spellsong Jr. is joined on his path as the Harbinger, by nerd and Archery club captain Gwyneth Smedley (who is very suspicious – she has no good reason for being there… seriously), the enigmatic outlaw wizard Luna Lumere, and an unapologetic Bothan named Rusty Six-Guns. Together, they make their way towards the Bastard King, who will either unify or destroy the world. Just peachy.
So far on their journey, the group has been at odds with genocidal law enforcement that are trying to wipe out “magick-makers”, have run down snowy cliff faces without falling (which is in direct defiance of the laws of gravity and clumsiness), and met many of the fascinating races that populate this world. Jehanzeb Hasan has written us a world filled with the extraordinary. We’ve seen Downers, Hobbits, Goblins! I mean, the troll is a worried mamabear who makes coffee. How is that not perfect?
Of course, we have Mauricio Caballero to thank for these beautiful illustrations, whose detailed backgrounds can provide readers with hours of fun analysis. I tutted over Eldrick’s messiness (who puts a magnifying glass on the floor) and wondered what on earth the quill in his case was for, when he was drawing with a pen. I bonded with Eldrick’s father over his owl statue and was intrigued that this fantasy steampunk world has chess pieces. It is a lived-in story, that feels as if it could be your mess of a life. In a nutshell, the worldbuilding has been nothing short of legendary.
At 91 pages in, we have yet to see too much complexity to the characters, but a lot has been hinted at. Backstory appears in teaser conversations, but the focus of Helm thus far has been on the action, the chase. And what a chase it is. There isn’t a dull moment in Helm, and whether or not Jehanzeb will be able to fit the characters in around the action is something I hope to see happen soon. I expect it will since storytelling doesn’t seem to be a shortfall here, as Helm definitely isn’t lacking in the humour department.
Last month, Helm entered the running for an Eisner award in the best Digital Comics 2017 category. Only 1 day remains in the voting process, with votes from Comic Creators closing at midnight PDT on June 16th. The category is slightly muddled as Helm should come under Webcomic rather than Digital Comic, but those lines are so easily blurred. After all, only 2 of Helm’s running mates –“Bandette” and “Universe!”– are strictly digital comics (comics read via downloading), while “On A Sunbeam” has always titled itself a webcomic (available to read on webpages), and “Edison Rex” has recently reinvented itself as a webcomic. Despite this confusing categorisation, Helm’s acknowledgement by the awards committee is a nod towards it as a comic to watch out for.
After all, they created a teaser trailer for a webcomic. Seriously, who does that? Not that I’m complaining, as it looks like an old school point and click adventure in the vein of Monkey Island that I would really like to play.
In any emergency, you need to be able to depend on your car. Whether to transport you to safety, shield you from zombies, or help you gather more supplies. It won’t be with you forever since you probably don’t have an unlimited fuel source(gasoline lasts 3-5 months, 1-2 years at most with a fuel stabiliser). All those times people sourced fuel on TV years after production stopped? Lies. Regardless, your car will be essential to giving you an edge during the most hectic part of an apocalypse. The beginning. So, Zombie Apocalypse vehicle anyone?
The majority of Apocalypse-ready vehicles come with a hefty price tag. For instance, Conquest’s Knight XV, (which is essentially a dolled-up Terradyne Gurkha) retails for $800k. I don’t blame them, the car looks like you could drive through a horde and come out shiny. But let’s be realistic. Someone stronger, smarter or sneakier is going to come along and take it from you because it is so shiny.
Conquest Knight XV
But is a ready-made super expensive vehicle what our prepper hearts truly desire? Or is it the opportunity to buy something affordable that we can fit out as we like? Perhaps in the vein of Donald O’Keefe’s imagination? I mean, just feast your eyes on these works of art he created. Regular cars for regular people – in the apocalypse.
Assuming that kitting out your ride is what you’re looking for, we have compiled a list of 7 affordable Zombie Apocalypse –possible– vehicles that are on the market today for your consideration. Cars that cost between 2-15% of what the Knight XV goes for, and will still be an apocalyptic boon.
The Nissan X-Trail boasts a range of configurations and versatile capabilities. This 4WD can be fitted with a cargo area cage and net, or two extra seats. There is even lift-out floor storage, perfect for hiding your gear during everyday use. Easy to load, the X-Trail is for the prepper that wants to bring along as much as they possibly can, and still be comfortable with shaped seats. Its steel construction also means more resilience against rotting flesh. Need extra armor? Slap on a brush/grille guard and you’re good to start mowing down a few zombies. Emphasis on few. Mowing people down is bad for your engine; blood rusts.
Going unnoticed during the apocalypse is the best way to survive. So, getting yourself a Toyota Yaris that is great on fuel and screams, “I’m suburban and have nothing to take” is key. It has a fair amount of storage space for a small car, again with lift-out floor storage. The seats fold down flat too, so putting a small mattress in the back isn’t inconceivable. Its small size allows one to get around congested areas and to make quick u-turns to avoid an oncoming horde. Zombies don’t wait for you to complete a three-point-turn. Extra bonus – there are bound to be spare parts everywhere. Get some roof racks installed for more storage and you could probably live in here for the first year, albeit curled up in the fetal position to sleep.
This is a powerhouse. The engine is a beast, and if you what you need is to get away fast, the Ford Raptor will do that for you. Of course what it gives in power and storage, it takes in fuel. It also has an amazing 6-ton-towing capacity for taking down those prison walls. The open back serves as a good spot to hunt from, provided you’re any good at shooting from a moving vehicle. Get some LED lights installed on the top of the vehicle to improve night visibility and shooting for a complete Raptor experience.
Toyota Hilux Pre 1985
/100km Fuel Consumption
Max Cargo Capacity
If you’ve worried that an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is going to cause the apocalypse, then preparing an EMP-proof vehicle is probably at the top of your list. If that’s the case, then you want to be looking for a manual diesel car built before 1985. The Toyota Hilux should be your first choice in that category, as they have stood the test of time. Most owners claim that Hiluxes get stronger the worse you treat them. Fortunately, most of the fallout from an EMP is unlikely to cause more than flickering lights on your modern car (since your car is essentially a pretty good faraday cage). But if you’re still worried, build a steel garage to house your precious in. In addition to its EMP-proof qualities, the Hilux is a great offroader, suitable for two people escaping the apocalypse with most of their house in the back. Get yourself a 4×4 Hilux with a carburetted 22R motor. It isn’t the smoothest ride, but this thing has had a war named after it.
The most expensive semi-affordable car on this list, the Tesla Model X AWD is your answer in a fuel-less world. Make sure you have a solar-battery system set up off grid, and your Tesla will outlast you in the apocalypse. All the seats fold flat, allowing a huge amount of storage, or a luxurious air queen mattress. You can even upgrade to HEPA filters for a bioweapon defense mode. Conveniently enough, the doors will open automatically on your approach, enabling a quick getaway – especially with these exceptional acceleration speeds. I’ve watched many a movie where being unable to open their car door has killed people. You will probably want to disable the collision avoiders though, as the Tesla smart computer is unlikely to be programmed to understand the new world you find yourself in.
A small and sturdy AWD, the Subaru Impreza is the most balanced car on this list. Featuring generous cargo capacity, good fuel consumption and enough power to get away from lumbering zombies. The sunroof also serves as a shooting outpost. Set an armored grill up top and you’ll be good to go. Slated as being able to get you through all weather and terrains, the Impreza is definitely a bargain. And as a bonus for the present-day non-apocalyptic world, it can connect up both Apple Car Play and Android Auto for a bit of first-world convenience.
A motorcycle will get you places. This one will let you go 400km before you need to source more fuel. You can get an official 39-litre small top case for some emergency supplies, and other custom saddle bags to increase your cargo requirements. As long as you have a water purifying source, rations and zombie-proof clothing, the V-Strom can get you to safety through the most congested terrain. It is a tough little beaut, coming off the show room floor with an engine guard and spoked rims. Furthermore, as it has one of the lowest seat heights at 835mm and a comfortable padded seat, you could spend days trying to find civilization again before worrying about lower back pain.
In conclusion, get what you need.
This isn’t the exhaustive list of Zombie Apocalypse vehicles, but it is a practical one that should get you started. Everyone’s requirements are going to be different based on how many people and pets they’ll need to travel with. Have a big family? Get a Nissan X-Trail. Just you and your dog? Attach a side-car to your bike and zoom off. One tip before you do start your research: don’t buy white. White cars get pulled over for the most traffic offenses, show up dirt easily, and is the least able to be camouflaged in the apocalypse. Happy vehicle hunting!
Disclaimer: In the event of an apocalypse, we hold no responsibility for our vehicle recommendations as we are unlikely to have survived. And if we happen to be one of the 0.088% who do survive, you are welcome to come hang out in our future bunker.
For some inscrutable reason, I delight in books where teenagers go to class. The Atlantis Grail feeds this hunger of mine, while serving up a delicious platter of “go to class to learn how to not die”. Best of all, the nickname given to the main character is superhero gold.
“Listen to her!” Laronda picks up. “She is Shoelace Girl!”
The Atlantis Grail is an epic read, crossing different genres. It is a coming of age, science fiction series shadowed by Hunger Games competitions. Add to that the classes/schooling of the Harry Potter universe, the physical survival prepping of Robinson Crusoe and all of this taking place in space, well you get the gist. Also, going to the planet Atlantis takes a really long time. I actually appreciate that. Too many science fiction novels/shows have people zipping around in impossible ways that make me roll my eyes. If the Doctor gives “Timey Wimey” as a reason for everything one more time…
It is set 19 months before Earth is Big Banged again, and follows 16-year-old Gwenevere Lark’s journey to survive. It is set in a present-day-ish Earth of cheesy eggs, TV and yellow buses. Pretty much your everyday, except for the alien spaceships in the sky and an impending doom. The people of Atlantis left Earth 1000 years ago after their own catastrophe, and found a home in the stars. And now they are back, willing to save 10 million Earth teenagers from the impending meteor by whisking them off into space.
At its core, Atlantis Grail is about a nerdy klutz who is pitted against all the other teenagers of Earth to win a coveted spot as one of 10 million refugees. Gwen is 16, full of emotions, full of ideas. The best thing she has going for her, is her brain. Mainly because she is a completely unfit potato. She spent her whole life focused on academia, and then the apocalypse arrived. So when forced to qualify or die, she finds herself starting to exercise. And it isn’t a cathartic “oh hey, I’m good at exercise” situation, but a slow and painful regime. A majority of the first half of the book is dedicated to classes, gym sessions, martial arts lessons and multiple scenes of atrocious “jogging” around a track. All this culminates in Qualification, where it is each person for themselves. A lot of children get hurt, a lot of children die.
That is probably what really drew me into the world of Atlantis Grail. The Author Vera Nazarian – a Nebula Award Nominee – doesn’t allow her characters to just be magically good at things. All of them have to work hard and fail often, which results in distinct physical and mental character growth. I love how Gwen’s friends aren’t just cookie-cutter support characters, but flawed and varied human beings. Nazarian’s teenage voice for the characters can sound a bit disjointed at times, but what is a teenager if not all over the place? One day Gwen is mature, the next she has forgotten about her responsibilities because she got caught up in a crush. She is impulsive, intelligent, resolute and tries not to let other people in on how she feels.
In order to accomplish this, the books are long. Book 1 Qualify is 210k words long, Book 2 Compete is 176k words long, Book 3 Win is slated to go up to 310k and there is still Book 4 Survive. For reference, the longest Harry Potter book (no.5) is only 257k words long (bit of trivia, total words for entire Harry Potter series is 1,084,170). While this has allowed for a truly immersive world with tons of internal monologue, interpersonal conflict and reflection – it does mean that any action scenes are fairly long. Both books could have probably been served with some better editing to tidy up a bit of the filler.
In any case, I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Win. Especially after the twist at the end of Compete. Nazarian’s website has this teaser:
And, if like me you can’t wait for the third book, well you’re in luck. Because Ms Nazarian uploaded the first 26 unedited chapters of the third book “Win” for us to read right now for free! First line of book three?
“Today is the most impossible day of my life.”
30 – 35
2 / 4?
4 / 5
Books in Series
Where can you read Qualify and Compete? The eBooks are on Kindle and iTunes, and a physical copy can be picked up from Amazon. I think these are also available to read free through the 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited.
If all that’s holding your keys together is a regular old carabiner (or an even more regular keyring), then the Firebiner will provide you with the perfect excuse to upgrade. It’s sleek, it’s sharp, it’s shiny, it’s sparky. And it will hold your keys.
Rated for 50lbs/ 22kgs
Weighs 1 oz / 22g
Patent Pending EverSpark wheel Firestarter
2 Free Replaceable Ferro rods
5 colors: Silver, Black, Gold, Blue & Red-Blue
There are a multitude of keyring survival tools on the market. But few of them took it as far as a complete re-design of the humble carabiner. In fact, most keyring survival tools need to be clipped on to a carabiner. The Firebiner sails past its competition in being able to legally hold 50lbs / 22kgs (pushed to 403lb /182kg before breaking) while sporting a blade, firestarter, screwdriver and bottle opener.
Thus far, I have lit a bunch of cotton balls on fire in the sink, easily cut threads off any item of clothing to come my way and hung the firebiner on my belt loop without it catching when I took it off. All in all, it has been a joy to use. And I am not the only one to think so. Positive reviews from other Kickstarter backers have been flooding the Firebiner comment section, while some have even taken to leaving 5 star reviews on their website.
This is a true case of receiving what you have put your money into. Every tool incorporated functions as it should, without going overboard with too many bells and whistles. I have axed many a Kickstarter project from my list that added-on a Plush Doll or something else unrelated halfway through their campaign. Features like those take up time that I prefer designers to spend on the backed product.
Outdoor Element has done just that. Their campaign promises were to make the Firebiner better and more cost-effective for backers. For instance, they promised a free accessory kit to international backers after sourcing cheaper international shipping. Many companies simply absorb these savings as profit. Outdoor Element kept things transparent and courteous. They consistently provide updates, acknowledge any mistakes, speak to the community as often as they can, and continue to take on board feedback to improve their products.
Of course as a new product, there are still some kinks.
Some are easily remedied (if your firebiner won’t spark, prime it by turning it in the opposite direction for a bit first before trying again), others require a bit of DIY (dab some super glue in the wire gate holes to decrease likelihood of losing the wire gates). Quality wise, there are bumps, burrs and scratches on the Firebiners, and one person’s Firebiner only had one hang slot. Go figure. Others who have tried to “fix” their Firebiners have accidentally lost their screws and springs, and it seems that a fair number of international backers didn’t receive their free accessory kits (myself included). However, the latest updates from Outdoor Element show that they are aware of these issues, and are already working to rectify them.
Would I buy this again? A hundred times yes. Even with the issues mentioned above, the Firebiner is a treat to use. And it is lighter than my old carabiner was. Once you go Firebiner, you don’t go to dinner.. without it.
In fact, I’m planning on buying more for Christmas. The Firebiner completely replaces an everyday object, and that is what truly makes it.
p.s. What to put in the vials?!? So many options. Cotton wool, sewing needle, thread, fishing line, strike-anywhere matches, iodine, bobby pins, a paper clip (for sim card removal!), hair bands, water purification tablets, prescription medication, Potassium Permanganate (firestarter, trail marker, water purifier all in one), alcohol wipes, bandaids, etc. Personally, I had a lot of trouble deciding and am still trying to stuff more things in there.
Dying is just par for the course in Don’t Starve, where there isn’t any hand-holding, tutorials, or making things easy. Instead, Klei Entertainment built an in-depth world of magic, science and survival, where every night you stay alive is a night you want to pat yourself on the back. That is what you sign up for when you play a game that throws you to the wolves – or hounds in this case.
Art-wise, Don’t Starve has a just-right feel about it. Nothing looks too complicated, and yet everything is interesting. Every screen speaks to a Tim Burton-esque creepiness (he did not draw this – but wouldn’t a movie be great?). The music in the trailer above? That’s what you hear in game. The graphics mixed with the music and the sound effects (is someone out there?!), create an atmosphere of dark humour, mockery and heart-thumping goodness. And since the map and resources are randomly generated, it doesn’t get boring.
Furthermore, adding in the Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants expansion, expands the art to include the weather. Just watching the rain patter down while your little person complains and thanks trees, fleshes out the theme tremendously. And if you get rained on in the dark, expect your insanity meter to start dropping like mad.
Don’t Starve doesn’t tell you what you’re supposed to discover. Player set objectives are central to the experience, as you set your own goals (burn trees for charcoal, mine for gold – get a crock pot before day 5 for meatballs) rather than having an interface tell you what you need to not starve. It is refreshing to figure everything out on your own, and gives this sense of accomplishment that you will treasure for days afterwards – if you’re still alive. It is a balancing game between reward, frustration and a slew of challenges.
As a sandbox survival game, there isn’t much of a pre-built story to Don’t Starve. At least, that is what it seems like in your first 20 or so days where you work through the night on survival (don’t sleep, it is a waste of time). But a turning point comes at some point, where instead of survival, you start thriving. This gives you the luxury to begin wondering, what does that weird evil flower circle do? What about all the holes in the ground? Is that a freestanding door? Am I brave enough to explore holes with teeth? And if you are, be prepared. Point is, bring a spear.
The battle system for Don’t Starve is a simple hack and run. Most of the enemies have fairly predictable attack movements, and so anticipating when to strike before running away can become second nature. But that will take time. To begin with, I suggest running. Or find something that will kill your enemies for you. There is no experience to gain from killing, and death comes quick and easy.
My advice? Get yourself a stock of Buttermuffins to heal up by 20 health. Best way to do this is to plant a Butterfly Farm next to a Beefalo Herd. Just remember to collect your wings before they rot. This will all make sense once you start.
The best part? You can also play Don’t Starve with your friends and complete strangers. Don’t Starve Together is only available through Steam, and is an amazing multiplayer experience. I don’t often like multiplayer games, but this takes the cake. Mainly because you can all die together.
If you have gotten tired over the years of games that are dumbed down clones of each other, you will probably appreciate that Don’t Starve does not pander to that. Klei Entertainment are a rare breed of developers that care about the customer experience, as they constantly add things to the game for free. They even created an entirely new game – Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked – labelled it a DLC (Downloadable Content) and are selling it at DLC prices. Even their ports to mobile are a treat, and so far bug free.
This game won’t appeal to you if you don’t enjoy losing EVERYTHING very often. The most you get for dying is unlocking new characters, but there aren’t all that many to unlock. On the other hand, if you love a challenge that will reward you the better you get, Don’t Starve is for you.