> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Review: GraphicAudio - The Survivalist #1



Review: GraphicAudio - The Survivalist #1

Jerry Ahern's The Survivalist kicked off 30 years ago - way way back in 1981. It became a very popular series of books, and the protagonist, man of action John Rourke, became pretty much the prototypical 80s survivalist hero. The series stretched to over 20 books and spawned off lots of copy-cats. I'd heard about The Survivalist series in the past - always mentioned as a favorite bit of post-apocalyptic fiction - but the books themselves have been long out of print and can be difficult to find.

In 2007, Graphic Audio started producing the Survivalist series in their full voice cast, sound effects laden audiobook style. Graphic Audio does great work on their books - their tagline is "A Movie in your mind," which they really almost are. It's much more enjoyable, to me at least, than the typical, single-reader audio book. Purists may complain, though, as some descriptions are left out in favor of sound effects - gunfire, rocket engines, explosions. I am a fan, and the Graphic Audio production does not disappoint here.

The Survivalist #1, Total War, follows the outbreak of World War III. We're back in the Cold War for this one, with the Ruskies invading Pakistan and threatening superior nuclear capabilities if the US decides to try and stop them. Half the book is playing out the inevitable nuclear war, and it is interesting to see the war unfold and the two countries move closer and closer to war, despite their mutual reluctance.

The other half of the book follows the adventures of our man, John Rourke, a trained doctor who gave up medicine in order to join up with the CIA, and who later left the CIA in order to become the ultimate survivalist. John is (of course) a weapons expert, and carries around a small arsenal of weapons with him wherever he goes, which he employs regularly. He's also (of course) invested heavily in building his family a fortified retreat up in the mountains. 

One thing that I enjoyed was Rourke's reluctant wife. She's tired of his war-fighting, violent, survivalist ways, and sounded like I imagine a lot of prepper/survivalist's wives sound. She doesn't like guns, doubts the world will end and has thus far refused to visit their million dollar retreat. Heck, she doesn't even know where it is.

When the inevitable war breaks out, John is separated from his family - he's in a plane crash outside of Albuquerque, while she's back at home on their farm outside of Atlanta. This sets up for at least the next book - John has only just started his journey homeward at the end of Total War.

Society deteriorates shockingly fast - within about a day, there are wild dogs attacking people, massive biker gangs killing at random and so on. Mostly this is so that John Rourke can employ his arsenal to blow away bad things. The Survivalist is what it is - it's action, it's survival, but it's not particularly smart or realistic. It is certainly entertaining, though, if you can suspend your disbelief.

There were a couple added touches I appreciated - the level of detail that goes into the weapons and the occasional survival fact/teaching that gets woven into the narrative. Rourke's weapons are described in detail, down to the speedloaders, grips and holsters that he uses. For gun nuts, this is fun, though they are 80s era weapons, so don't expect anything hyper-modern.

A final thing - The Survivalist #1 probably earns around a PG-13 rating; there is swearing, but not a massive amount of it (I recall one F-bomb). There's definitely a lot of violence, but it's not of the overly disturbing, extra-gory kind. This was a refreshing change from the Deathlands audio books that I've listened to in the past, which are usually a hard R and half the time get shut off halfway in. I can't say anything for the rest of the Survivalist series, but at least Total War is milder than a lot of the other stuff out there. YMMV.