LITERARY WANDERLUST TO OFFER NEW BOOK FROM DAVID S. ATKINSON
Denver, CO, December 1, 2017—Literary Wanderlust announced today it will publish a second work from humorist David S. Atkinson, a follow up to his 2015 publication, Not Quite So Stories.
Apocalypse All the Time is the story of Marshall, a man who is sick and tired of an apocalypse occurring every week. Everyone is obsessed with the possibility of the end of the world; life is constantly in peril but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled, over and over again. Marshall wants it all to stop . . . one way or another. Even if he has to end the world himself.
“Apocalypse All the Time combines absurdism, science fiction, and sly commentary on our current neuroses induced by the twenty-four news cycle to create something reminiscent of Orwell, Kafka, and Swift, while being entirely its own animal. By turns funny, maddening, and genuinely insightful, it’s one of the most imaginatively weird and original books I’ve read in a while,” says Joseph Hirsch, author of The Bastard’s Grimoire and other novels.
Apocalypse All the Time will be published on January 1, 2017.
About Literary Wanderlust
Literary Wanderlust publishes well-written novels and short story anthologies in the romance, women’s fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, and historical fiction genres, as well as nonfiction. Visit us at www.literarywanderlust.com.
David S. Atkinson has devoted his free time to reading and writing for as long as he can remember. His writing focus is primarily fiction—short stories and novels—though he expresses himself through poetry and nonfiction as well. David also has a fondness for obtaining college degrees, with four at the latest count (B.S. in computer science from the University of Nebraska Omaha, J.D. from Creighton University, B.A. in English literature from the New York Institute of Technology and M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Nebraska).
Originally from Nebraska, David now spends his nonliterary time working as a patent attorney in Denver, Colorado.
David is the author of Apocalypse All the Time (forthcoming from Literary Wanderlust on January 1, 2017), Not Quite So Stories, Bones Buried in the Dirt (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® finalist, First Novel (under 80,000 words)) and The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (2015 National Indie Excellence® Awards finalist in humor). His writing has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Grey Sparrow Journal, Atticus Review and other literary magazines and journals. Contact and learn more about David and his writing at www.davidsatkinsonwriting.com.
David can also be found on Twitter (@DavidSAtkinson) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/wightknyte).
Q&A with the Author
- Can you describe what your book is about in one sentence?
Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening all the time and is going to do something about it.
- What is the theme of Apocalypse All the Time?
Humanity’s continual obsession with the end of the world.
- How do you develop your plots and characters?
It’s always different for each different thing I write, but for this one I had a general idea of what was going to happen and set some general characters down within that. As they started moving around in that framework, they defined both where the story went from there and who they were. It was interactive, in a way.
- What was your favorite part of writing Apocalypse All the Time?
My favorite parts were actually the interludes. They were such a departure from the rest of the book and I wasn’t sure whether or not I could even keep them because they seemed like just plain fun, until I figured out how integral they really were to what was going on. That was quite a revelation for me.
- Give us some insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special? What are his/her character flaws?
Marshall isn’t any better than anyone else in his world, and doesn’t feel the need to be. He has talents for creation and design, but circumstances frustrate those. The biggest difference for him is the accident of nature that makes him one of the few actually examining the world around him, seeing instead of just looking. Of course, the same could be said for Bonnie, if not more so. Marshall would be the first to admit that.
- If you could spend time with a character from your book, which character would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Malcolm. No question about it, Malcolm. He could make all kinds of things happen for me, most of which would likely be classified…so you’ll have to be satisfied with just that as my answer.
- Tell us about the conflict in this book. What is at stake for your characters?
The conflict is literally the characters pitted against the nature of their world in an attempt to make their lives have some kind of meaning…so what’s at stake is everything.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Apocalypse all the Time?
The most surprising thing I learned while writing this book was just how many different apocalypse predictions there have been over time. I thought there had been a ton, but I only knew about a handful. I found a site at one point that listed hundreds and hundreds. Remember “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?” Yeah, don’t believe it. We’ll never learn no matter how many times someone cries, though someday the world does have to actually end. Maybe that’s why.
- How do you choose which genre to write in?
For me, the story determines everything. I don’t set out to write in anything particular, but only one thing is going to work with what has popped into my head. The story gets to decide it all and I just go along for the ride.
- What makes your book different from other books in your genre?
Most books take the apocalypse very seriously. There are a few that take it humorously, but they’re humorous about their humor. I think there’s nothing more serious than humor, and that approach makes all the difference in this book. Humor is serious business.
- Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
The narrator of the interludes in this book is one of my all time favorites. He’s so silly, in a serious way, that it was just delightful writing for him.
- Tell us about your background. What made you decide to pursue writing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think of writing as simply something a person does. I’ve written a lot of different things over the years and drifted around between some very different areas, but writing still encompassed everything. I guess I just follow where the writing goes, whether that’s through a formal degree program or not, through literary fiction or various genres, or whatever. I just keep following.
- What is your writing process?
My answer to process is a lot like my answer to genre. Everything I write needs to be handled in a different way. If I don’t listen to that, or can’t manage to hear what the project is telling me, it doesn’t get finished. The first draft of this actually got written about 1000-3000 words at a time, every single day, all within a month as part of Nanowrimo. That was just the first draft and the many, many revisions and reworks were much more sporadic and time consuming, but that’s the way it went. Very different from the way I work even most of the time.
- Tell us about the challenges of getting your book published. How did it come about?
I’d been chatting with my publisher from Not Quite so Stories and she actually asked to have a look. Everything fell into place from there. Maybe she was fond enough of Not Quite so Stories to be willing to take a look based on that alone, or maybe I got a really solid elevator pitch together. What’s important is that she loved the book when she did take a look. No foot in the door is any good if the book can’t make a good impression once someone opens it.
- What is your favorite genre to read?
I read all kinds of different books. Literary, bizarre, science fiction, fantasy, classics, I like to wander around. I don’t like to read too much of the same thing for too long. I think we can get into a rut too easily as readers.
- Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I’m a patent attorney. Given the demands of the practice of law, that’s not always just a day job. Sometimes you don’t have to go in every single day, but plenty of times there’s going to be night and weekend hours in there too. We stay busy, which I think speaks highly of the kind of
- What motivates you to write?
Much of the time, I get so charged up about an idea that I’m starting to write it before I completely realize what’s happening. There’s a voluntary aspect to it, but that usually comes after I’ve already begun. Maybe it’s just manic parts of myself, or too much coffee, but something charges me up and carries me into it for a ways before I need to walk on my own. That’s when the slog, and the actually work part of writing, begins.
- Why did you write Apocalypse all the Time?
Because no one else had yet and I couldn’t just go out and get a copy to read.
- Who did you write Apocalypse all the Time for (audience)?
I wrote it for anyone who has ever been skeptical about an apocalypse announcement. There’s an incredible instinct to credit them simply because we know that the world must someday come to an end. In the face of that, some people can’t forget that the eventuality doesn’t mean that the one in front of us is particularly probable, and things do tend to manage a way to go on. In short, I wrote it for people who think it’s better to talk seriously about a problem rather than jump straight to doomsday.
- Where can we find you online?
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. You’ll have to figure out what works for you beyond that, but write and you’ll get where you need to be eventually.
- What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I maintain the most important element is the ability to keep writing. Everything else can be fixed given long enough at it, but if there’s no writing then there’s nothing to be fixed to the point that it can be sent out into the world.
- What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
A good one seems to be “would you please accept this MacArthur Fellowship?” I’d certainly feel inclined to answer in the affirmative, should it ever some up.
- Any last thoughts?
This question strikes me as funny, given the subject of the book. “Last thoughts” would seem particularly inappropriate for Apocalypse All the Time.
Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.
Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop . . . one way or another. Even if he has to end the world himself.
Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.
Chapter Sneak Peek:
It was peaceful when Marshall awoke. Dark and peaceful. Gradually, as he came further into consciousness, he thought about how he was in his bed, in his apartment, comfortable. No apocalypse for weeks. He’d do what he was ordinarily supposed to do. Go to work if it was a workday.
The day would be an ordinary day. He hadn’t woken up fully enough yet to remember what day it was. Regardless, he’d have a normal routine to go about.
That’s when he noticed he couldn’t see his time screen.
In fact, it was completely dark in his apartment, which wasn’t right. It was never completely dark. He turned out the lights and put the shields over the windows when he slept, but his time screen always glowed. The charging indicator on his personal hygiene unit, an all-in-one bladeless razor, touchless tooth sanitizer, and various other functions Marshall never used, should have been flashing a dim green light. So should have a number of other devices that had tiny lights that never turned off. His communication module and his food preparation station were all dark, too.
It was another power apocalypse.
He sat up in bed, and thought about it. The power was out, that was clear enough by the dark time screen. It could have meant a simple power outage instead of an apocalypse level event, but apocalypses happened more often than blackouts. Regardless, Marshall could already tell from where he was this was more annoying than the last apocalypse where the power grid went dark.
For one thing, some of his devices were battery powered. Charge lights may not have been going if a power substation went down, but status lights were connected to internal batteries and should have still been active. Batteries would run out eventually, but he doubted he’d been asleep that long.
No, something had drained all the power. Drained it, or otherwise rendered it non-functional. The exact specifics were unimportant.
Electromagnetic pulse? That was possible. He’d heard those could knock out even independently powered electronics though he wasn’t entirely sure how that worked. Some sort of power sucker, stealing the juice away to somewhere else? A breakdown in the operation of electricity itself?
The possibilities were limitless or, they were while he was still on his bed not investigating. He’d have to go out and look at the sky and wait for Malcolm’s announcement to elaborate the problem.
If the Apocalypse Amelioration Agency was able to send out a message. Surely the equipment for that required power. Doubtless they’d find a way around needing power for the equipment, but that could take time. Information might not be immediately forthcoming, Marshall realized.
At the same time, he decided he didn’t want to know. It didn’t matter. Safety procedures were the same regardless of the cause. The actual details were only drama to get caught up in.
Also, Marshall realized he could pretend it was merely an outage if he didn’t know specifics. No apocalypse at all. Even in a blackout, people could still accomplish their daily tasks. Lack of power for a couple hours wasn’t an excuse to be idle. A power apocalypse would be, but Marshall didn’t have to think about that.
He got out of bed.
Getting ready to go out puzzled him. Personal hygiene was problematic since the unit wasn’t functional. Also, the bathing apparatus wouldn’t work, and he wouldn’t be able to see to use it anyway. He wouldn’t be able to find clothes either though that was easily handled by the fact he was still dressed from the day before.
No matter. It wouldn’t be breaking routine too much to go out unwashed in mildly soiled clothing. He’d done that when he woke up late for work hung over before. He doubted anyone else would be looking their best either. The slept-in look would likely be popular.
Luckily, Marshall’s front door had a manual release. All dwellings did after one of the other power apocalypses trapped people indoors for several days. He crept over his stuff carefully in the dark and popped the door open.
Luckily again, Marshall’s apartment was only a single large room. It was temporary housing, one in a long line of temporary domiciles, since his actual home had been destroyed in a ball lightning apocalypse. Supposedly, he’d have a real house again someday if there was ever enough time between apocalypses to build one. Still, since it was only him, and since cooking and bathing were performed using apparatuses instead of dedicated rooms, and since he didn’t accumulate much because it was so often destroyed, he didn’t need more than one big room. One room was easier to get out of when an apocalypse inevitably knocked out the lights. No maze to wander around in.
Popping the door open didn’t change much. It was still dark. The hallway had no windows. Marshall didn’t know if it was day or night. Still, the hallway was empty so it was easy to crawl along on the carpet, easy to find the exit to the familiar emergency exit stairs, and easy to follow the guide rail down to get outside.
Easy. This was a normal day with minor inconveniences.
Marshall wondered why he didn’t encounter anyone else in the hallway. Nobody crying, and wailing. It was nice. He enjoyed it. Maybe everyone was still asleep. Or, maybe he’d overslept and was the latecomer to the emergency. It might even have been that everyone else decided to sit at home in the dark. Marshall wasn’t sure, but if the hallway was calmer than usual then he wasn’t going to complain about it.
The quiet ended when Marshall got outside.
It took him a moment to be able to see, coming out of darkness into blazing sunlight, but there was no way to miss the commotion. There was the wailing, the metaphorical gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Until he could see, it was only noise which came from everywhere at once. Windows were smashed, and were buildings on fire. People desperately tried to use dead devices. It was the end of the world, again.
It was pretty much what he expected.
Despite the problems everywhere, it wasn’t bad. There were the regular riots and violence, but the streets were passable. The transport pods didn’t work without power, but he could walk. No reason not to go about his day.
He was disappointed though when he remembered it was his day off. He couldn’t ignore the apocalypse and go into work if he had no job to go to. Not that it would have worked out for him to go in. Without power, the assembly line would be motionless and there would be nothing for Marshall to do. Staying at home due to apocalypse wouldn’t have been much different.
However, Marshall could make his grocery run. Being on foot would limit what he could carry, but he had nowhere to store perishables anyway. That would lighten his load a bit.
He hoped the food distributor was open, and it hadn’t been burned down, and the employees bothered to show up for work. As he walked, Marshall knew the possibility of success was low. Still, that was no reason to blow off the trip, considering his other option was to stay home and freak out like everybody else. Besides, the trip itself, even if eventually fruitless, was part of his routine. He always went to the market on his day off.
The walk was pleasant when one ignored the chaos. Marshall enjoyed it. He ignored the screams from people who didn’t need help anyway. He looked at things that weren’t broken or aflame to avoid seeing those that were. It almost made the world better, without actually being arrogant enough decide what was better and for whom.
Eventually, he reached the food distributor. No issues. No attacks by roving bands of miscreants, no objects blocking the way, no strange items falling from the sky. It was a refreshing walk, bordered by miscellaneous insanity.
However, Marshall was unable to tell if the store was open or not.
The lights were not on, and the main sign wasn’t illuminated, but the power was gone so that wasn’t dispositive. He didn’t see anyone inside, and no one came or went, but the security gates weren’t in place. The powered glass door was open a crack.
Marshall shrugged. He’d only find out if he went inside. He might as well try.
It wasn’t quite as simple as he hoped. The huge door was open a crack, but not wide enough to admit his slightly oversized frame. It was suitable for someone more slender, someone smaller.
He figured he’d try to push the door open. There were scuff marks on the ground, suggesting someone else tried to open the door too. The door was heavy, but Marshall either had to push or go home, and he wasn’t ready to go home yet.
He worked his shoulder into the gap of the doorway and heaved. His face reddened and he puffed as beads of sweat dotted his forehead. Though normally motor controlled, the giant door was on rollers for sliding and began to move. Marshall focused on his task so much he didn’t notice when he’d moved the door enough for him to pass through.
Standing to catch his breath a moment, he looked at what he’d done. It wasn’t much of an accomplishment, but he he’d done something. Accomplishments were few and far between in an age of apocalypses.
As he went inside, he was less convinced than ever the food distributor was open. It was deserted. But worrying about open or closed was merely semantics. He figured he’d grab his groceries first and then see if there was a way to pay.
That’s when the display stack of creamed corn canisters next to him exploded. Marshall dove for the floor. His ears rang from the blast and he could smell something sulfurous. That, and corn. Canisters and fragments of canisters clattered to the floor around him. He was wet with the creamed mush. He hoped that was all it was. He didn’t think he’d been hit. Nothing hurt, but maybe he was in shock.
Looking up, he saw a slight woman standing a little way away pointing an odd-looking weapon at him. The thing was black and long like a shock rifle, but didn’t look remotely electric. The gun was made of pipes, one main one, and some kind of grip. Little cartridges ran all up and down the sides. Smoke trailed out of the end, which the woman was still pointing at him.
“Looting is not allowed in the distributorship,” the woman shouted. She had long hair so blond it was almost white.
Marshall wasn’t sure if she was an employee. Normally, employees wore special jumpers. Then again, normally, they didn’t usually fire weapons at him.
The woman pulled a secondary grip near the pointing end of the weapon. It slid back and then forward again with a chhkcchhhhk sound and a little canister shot out the side. “Though distributorship policy does not condone looting of any kind, if you must loot we ask you do it at another location. Thank you for your patronage and please have a pleasant day.”
“What the hell are you doing?” Marshall wiped creamed corn from his face. “I’m not looting, I’m shopping.”
The woman looked puzzled. “Our credit processing systems are not operational. Do you have non-electronic funds for payment?”
The woman angled the weapon away from him though she still held it at the ready. “All right, then. Proceed. However, please refrain from opening the refrigeration cabinets. We still hope the items inside won’t spoil before power is restored.”
Marshall nodded and got up from the floor. He wiped corn off of himself as he stood. It didn’t make him any more presentable, but the soiled state of his clothing was certainly no longer noticeable.
“I’m Marshall, by the way,” he told her, offering her his hand. She didn’t take it.
“Why are you yelling?”
“New distributorship policy. Today there is only yelling in the distributorship. No inside voices permitted.”
“Okay. Did you just make that up?”
She shrugged. “Yeah. Why not? I’m the only one who came to work. I keep the place safe from looting. I get to make the rules. That’s how it works.”
Marshall looked at the exploded creamed corn canisters. “Maybe they’d have been better off if they’d been looted.”
“Can’t make an omelet without taking a shotgun to some creamed corn,” she responded. “Are you going to shop or not? I’d tell you I don’t have all day, but I kind of do. I guess, I’m only curious.”
Shotgun? Is that was that thing was? Marshall guessed so. Whatever it was, it must have been an antique.
He grabbed an item carrier and began wandering the aisles. Since perishables were out, both by practicality and proscription, he’d need to get some dry goods he didn’t normally purchase. Dehydrated potato wafers. Preserved beef strips. It felt a bit like camping, or he presumed it did. No one camped anymore.
The woman followed him around the store with the shotgun. She didn’t point it at him, but she stalked around as if she might at any moment. She tried not to appear interested in Marshall’s shopping, but she kept a close eye on him.
“So why’d you pick an apocalypse as a time to go shopping?” Bonnie cocked her head sideways.
“I’d never get any shopping done if I waited till there wasn’t an apocalypse, would I?”
Her eyes widened in surprise. Hazel.
“Besides, I didn’t have to go to work today. That means time for shopping. I even thought about going to work, if there’d been anything to do on the line. I’m temporarily in a factory until they get the design division up and running again. Frankly, I’m bored. Apocalypses are boring.”
Bonnie nodded. Her eyes never left Marshall, though she stopped brandishing the gun and slung it over her shoulder.
“Obviously,” she yelled. “I know what you mean.”
It took Marshall a couple circuits around the distributorship to find everything he thought he’d need. It wasn’t much, only one item carrier full, but he didn’t know where everything was kept since it wasn’t his usual batch of purchases. Seeking and searching took time, and he wasn’t in much of a hurry while walking with Bonnie.
She seemed pretty patient about it as well. She strolled around the distributorship with him, walking when he walked, and stopping when he stopped. When he finished, she led him up to the front and tallied the total by hand.
“Seventy-five credits.” she yelled, holding out her hand.
He paid her. Luckily, he had bills for the exact amount. He was sure there was change in the transaction terminals, but those were all dead. Marshall had no idea if the money storage compartments could be accessed manually. He could have told her to keep the change, but he had no idea how long his paper credits would have to last. It was nicer not to tax his supply any more than necessary.
“I can’t enter your transaction into the rewards program to get you your points right now, because the system is obviously down,” she yelled. “Write down your name and home location on this slip and I’ll get it all entered once we’re back online.”
Marshall took the paper she handed him and did as he was told, though he wasn’t worried about reward points. Still, it was another little bit of normalcy. Whether or not she was doing it to make him feel better, it was a nice touch.
Bonnie helped him package up his haul. Then she walked him back to the door, pulling it closed most of the way after him. He decided she must have been considerably stronger than she looked.
“Thank you for shopping with us today,” she yelled through the door gap. “It may be the apocalypse out there, but it’s everyday low prices in here.”
“Apocalypse All the Time combines absurdism, science fiction, and sly commentary on our current neuroses induced by the twenty-four news cycle to create something reminiscent of Orwell, Kafka, and Swift, while being entirely its own animal. By turns funny, maddening, and genuinely insightful, it’s one of the most imaginatively weird and original books I’ve read in a while.”
—Joseph Hirsch, author of The Bastard’s Grimoire and other novels
“David S. Atkinson has written a wittily satirical look at our culture’s obsession with destruction, a provocative and humorous foray into the recesses of human nature that delights in the surreal vicissitudes of annihilation. The only regretful part about this apocalyptic ride is that it has to end.”
—Peter Tieryas, author of United States of Japan and Bald New World[Text Wrapping Break]
“I cannot decide if Apocalypse All The Time is Groundhog’s Day for the seriously cracked or The Day After for the absurdist lit set. What I do know, is that while David S. Atkinson may very well be deranged, his work is funny and weird and wholly touching. I also know that we are all the better for having it in our lives.”
—Ben Tanzer, author of Be Cool and SEX AND DEATH
“Apocalypse All the Time is a wandering journey to Armageddon, again and again and again. There’s a decidedly Kafkaesque bent to the story, and Marshall at times feels like a post-apocalyptic Hamlet. To be, or not to be—that IS the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the floods and fires of a daily doomsday or to take arms against the Apocalypse Amelioration Agency and end them. Ay, there’s the rub. And one hell of a book.”
—Eirik Gumeny, author of the Exponential Apocalypse series
“Apocalypse All the Time holds utterly true to its title. This is a world where apocalypses are not singular impending events but habitual, regular, ordinary, even mere annoyances. Indeed, the narrator ruminates, ‘An apocalypse wasn’t a significant event if it was apocalypse all the time.’ This is a funny, clever, and entirely endearing book, a hilarious take on the existential status of existing as a human in a post-post(-post-post?) apocalyptic world, but it’s also heartbreakingly real and honest. Magnifying back to the real world in which the apocalypse has probably already happened, it is within the pages of these book that we learn to find love in spite of disintegration and ruin, we learn to become in spite of uncertainty, and we learn to live in spite of the hope for death.”
—Janice Lee, Author of Damnation & The Sky Isn’t Blue
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What I Thought:
When I hear Apocalypse, I think end of the world. Zombies. Aliens. Plagues. Any or all of the above. Horror and terror and absolute fear. Because of humanity’s obsession with the end of the world, this is the picture they’ve painted, right? I remember staying up until midnight on December 31st 1999, because the world was supposed to end that night, according to the Y2K apocalypse predictions. And several times since then.
David Atkinson has written a story that is almost a satirical spin on everyone’s obsession with the end of the oworld, or apocalypse. This book is downright hilarious at times. What was funniest to me, was how every time an apocalypse happened people freaked out like this was “it” but since apocalypses were common, it didn’t phase the main character Marshall. To borrow a line from the book: “An apocalypse wasn’t a significant event if it was apocalypse all the time.”
Basically, this guy Marshall is living in a place where apocalypse happens all the time. Different ones, same ones, short ones, long ones, and so on. It’s almost tiring to keep up with, and probably would be if the author hadn’t written it in such a comedic manner.
I do like sci-fi, but I can tell you I’m rarely laughing my head off while reading it. This is my second time reading something by Atkinson, and I like his writing more each time I read it. He was this different style, kind of like Louis Sachar, except for grownups.
I like that this story is told with interruptions (you;ll see what I mean when you read it). It’s not as confusing as it sounds. I also liked Marshall and Bonnie. I do believe if there WERE an apocalypse, i would hipefully handle it like Bonnie.
And again, I’m a fan of Atkinson’s writing more and more. I look forward to seeing what he will write in the future.
If you enjoy sci-fi, especially with some comedy on the side Apocalypse All the Time is for you!