Swan Song: 30 years old and still kicking Humanity's ass.


Book leading to another to another, I find I am wading through decades of old novels. I have been shoveling them into my gaping brain maw and chewing them up, enjoying every bite.

One stands out a little from the others. It is having it's 30th birthday this year and holds sway in my view as under appreciated and overly influential to how my think meats process the world.

  • Swan Song (Robert McCammon)
  • 864 pages
  • Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1439156735
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439156735
    (ISBN for newer version, mine is out of print)

My perspective post reread of Robert McCammon's Swan Song? As expected, it was every bit as good as the first time, with the exception of spoiled surprises.

I was introduced to Swan Song in 2002(3/?) by a karaoke singing dirty old man (RIP: Dr Lou). He traded me for a Stephen King novel (Black House, sequel to The Talisman). King is important here because at the time, I was of the impression The Stand was an infallible masterwork of apocalypse. Two days after receiving Swan Song and 800 pages later, King was knocked to his knees and deposed of his throne. All hail the new king, McCammon.

Swan Song opens with the introduction of various characters, including Sister Creep. Sister is crazy, drunk, and homeless. Not long after looking the devil in the eye at a screening of 'faces of Death' she finds herself boiled alive and dropped into a post nuclear wasteland. Following instinct, her remaining shreds of humanity, and faith, Sister begins a journey hide from the ultimate evil and save the survivors of our race.

I will spare the internet a blow by blow of plot and characters on a 30 year old book. If you want that, head out to google and I am sure you can find other options.

This novel is not simply a good read, I find that it influenced how I view large cities and even foot travel. Trigger statements might follow for some east coasters.

Positive influence- At one point in the book, there was mention of the need for a good pair shoes. Through conversation it was stated "[...] take it one step at a time. One step and then the next gets you where you’re going." This stuck with me and I have since refused to wear unreasonable or uncomfortable shoes. This was even a restriction at my wedding, that I would only get hitched wearing comfortable shoes.

Negative influence is worse. When I look at large buildings or cities, I cannot help but imagine the sheer volume of corpses mixed with rubble that I would have to climb over to escape a city post nuclear collapse.

My reaction to this mind bendingly good book:

* This tainted my view of the world. The taint itself is unusual, however. This novel left me with a strange feeling of hope, astonishment that the human race is so foolish, and a blatant desire not to be locked into a fate where my only choice is death. As there will always be a choice, I will walk and fight till my bones and sinews can no longer remain connected.

King, you still hold a position next to the throne, but McCammon Frankenstein wrestled you to the mat and kicked your butt. While you were writing fever dreams of corn fields and rats, McCammon's corn fields were burning in the wake of Minuteman flames.

--
Sourced: As stated above, this book was gifted to me in a mind meld of amazing media. You know, if mind melds allow for physical transfer of an object.. Okay, perhaps this was just a paperback book swap. Let's call it a paperback book swap.









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