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The Oblivion Society
Marcus Alexander Hart
Permuted Press, 303 pages

The Oblivion Society
Marcus Alexander Hart
Marcus Alexander Hart was born in 1976. He grew up in Fulton, New York, spent much of the 90s in Sarasota, Florida, and then ended up in Los Angeles, California at the turn of the century. He is the author of Caster's Blog: A Geek Love Story, and Walkin' on Sunshine. The Oblivion Society was a 2008 IPPY Award gold medalist. He is the former editor-in-chief of, and is currently a senior editor at Geek Monthly magazine.

Marcus Alexander Hart Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


"The five survivors trudged down the road in an exhausted caravan. It had been hours since they had left Stillwater's city limits, yet the noxious pink vapour still covered the earth in ethereal sheets."
The rise of POD and independent publishing houses enables almost anyone with the will, and basic word processing skills, to become a published author. Predictably, this has resulted in just as high a percentage of garbage as the wave of titles backed by the larger publishers, plus the occasional rough diamond. Is this book one such gem? It's a question I found easier to pose than to answer. The premise is an almost credible scenario, whereby the Cold War suddenly becomes very hot, due to a series of unfortunate events. One such being the liaison of a Slick Willie style President, taking orders from below his waist. This time, when the nuclear buttons are pushed, there's no teenage geek hero to save the world. In the space of a few minutes, it's whoops apocalypse and goodbye to all that we knew. What comes next is the darkly comedic story of five late teen to early twenties survivors, who band together as they travel cross country in an effort to find what's left of civilisation.

It's said that we never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and my first impression was that The Oblivion Society had been well crafted. The cover and product quality, so often the Achilles heel of small press books, looks every bit as professional as anything from a major player. The opening sequence sets up the five main protagonists, and gives a good indication of the author's style of humour and taste in characterization. In no time we're picking up the pieces with Vivian Gray, and four others, who spend at least half their time engaged in reference heavy banter. This clearly works best for readers in the target group, who will have the best chance of spotting the cues. For everyone else there are still things to enjoy, and older/younger cultural references that will raise a titter. The plot, rather disappointingly, is very much the junior partner. The major portion of the author's efforts are directed toward the interactions of his cast, which usually take the form of jokes, in jokes and general japes at the expense of the survivors. To an extent this is entertaining. After a while, though, I got rather worn down by the relentless juvenile wisecracking, and lack of news or serious interest in what had become of the world outside of the characters bubble. It felt like an number of plot opportunities had been lost.

Author Marcus Alexander Hart, who is pictured toward the end of the book adopting the image of exactly the sort of clever dick his prose suggests, has crafted an above average web site in support of the book, complete with introductory cartoon. If marketing effort alone was how I rate books, The Oblivion Society would be a winner. All things taken into consideration, however, this is a book best suited to those within the author's target audience of early teens to mid-twenties. Especially those who are intrigued by the idea of a bawdier, post-apocalyptic radioactive version of Friends. There's even a character who is more irritating than Ross, which in its own way is a major accomplishment. For those readers blessed with a wider world view, or perhaps just a more mature perspective, The Oblivion Society will have limited appeal.

Copyright © 2008 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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