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Refugees of ravaged planet Earth are caught in a war between the Host of Jesus and the Nomad Nation. The small number of humans left alive must face truths about themselves, choose sides and form bonds to survive this strange new world.
The earth suffers a stellar calamity that reduces the world population to less than a million people. Without electricity, internal combustion engines or government, the remnants of humanity flee to Mexico from the encroaching northern hemisphere ice age. Returning to the ways of the early native Americans is not easy as old prejudices and political ambitions cause groups to splinter.
Follow the story of a group of such refugees thrown together during their escape from the frozen north. Experience their personal trials, stormy relationships and Herculean efforts to survive in a harsh new world of altered topography, rapidly propagating free-roaming wild animals and a vicious medieval war between strange new cultures. “Normals,” the pre-cataclysm generation, find nature has accelerated evolution to prevent species extinction by giving the “new” children extra sensory powers to help them assure a future for the human race. Like all human stories, this one includes the best and the worst of human nature and a strong dose of action and excitement. Take this unforgettable journey into a world of tomorrow with these brave adventurers, you won’t regret it!
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Anne stopped and looked at Bear, who was standing almost ten feet high on his hind legs sniffing the air. She turned toward Mona and said, "Bear senses wood smoke coming from that direction. I think there’s just one person up there, someone old, even older than you." She pointed up an arroyo toward some foothills. Mona stood indecisively with her hands on her hips, a slight frown on her face. "Older than me, even? Well, my God, it’s a wonder they’re still breathing. So, do you, ah— you know, whatever you and Bear do, sense danger from this ancient fossil or what?"
"No, I think—" Anne paused for what seemed like several minutes, then continued, "I think it’s just a very lonely person who lives up there all the time away from everything. I feel like we could go without being in danger. Bear won’t go, though. He’s, well, he’s particular about some things."
"Whatever. I’m so goddamned hungry for something besides berries and the occasional fish I could eat rocks, if I had enough ketchup."
Anne looked puzzled. "Catch up? To what? What does that mean?"
Mona chuckled. "I’d say thinned tomato paste, but then you’d ask me about puréed tomatoes and eventually other processed veggies and condiments and, oh, hell, forget it. Talking about food when I’m starving isn’t exactly the smart thing to do. Let’s walk." She gave Anne’s rope a little tug.
After a half-hour or so of negotiating some extremely difficult terrain with rock slides and thorny Mesquite and Yucca, they came around a bend in the small canyon and Mona spied an adobe house with a thatched roof and a few outbuildings. Some farm animals in a rough corral looked up and bent their ears forward as chickens and ducks wandered about freely under their feet. Smoke came faintly from a chimney at the rear of the structure. Bear was no longer with them, having shambled off into the trees back up the trail. Mona had asked Anne at the time, "Is he coming back, do you think?"
"I don’t know. Maybe, if he feels like it. He likes us a lot, but he’s been restless going so slow just to stay with us and he kinda wants to go back to the river because of the fish and fresh water. He’s not afraid, but he doesn’t like buildings or strange animals."
Mona looked at the little home tucked away here in the hills, miles from everything. It seemed very old, obviously pre-cataclysm. Perhaps the earth was more geologically stable in this area, she thought. She took Anne’s hand again and led her carefully over the rocky trail, muttering, "Let’s hope whoever lives there doesn’t just shoot us on sight."
When they were within a few hundred yards, a large mixed breed dog came out barking the alarm, heading toward them at a run, teeth gleaming in the sun. Mona stopped and said, "Anne, don’t move, honey, just stay very still." She raised her rifle and nervously clicked off the safety. The dog’s ears were back, lips curled as though to attack, its mottled brownish fur making it seem like a smaller version of Bear. Suddenly it skidded to a halt and stopped barking, looking at Anne with puzzlement. After a moment, it came up slowly and sniffed her hand and crotch, then checked Mona out as well. Turning, it ran back to the house. Anne said, "Come on, he’s okay."
Mona was just approaching the weathered wooden porch when the front door opened and a man with a white beard stepped out, holding a rifle on them. He was short and wiry, with a fringe of white around the sides of his head and had a lined, weather-beaten face. He peered at the two a moment, then said in a gravelly voice, "And just who the devil are ya? What’d ya do to my dog and what d’ya want?"
Mona cleared her throat, but before she could answer, Anne piped up in a calm voice, "Hi. Your dog let me know it was okay for us to come see you. We’re hungry. My name’s Anne and this is Mona from Pomona. She’s an astronomer, you know."
She looked at the tallest boy in the group standing nearby and he nodded to her. All the adolescents turned as one at the same instant and walked silently away. Samantha put her hands on her hips and nodded to Dan. “Seems they like you, tall one. They were here most of the night after I slipped a little something in your tea to help you sleep soundly. Lo siénto, but you are probably not trusting us much yet, no? You needed the rest, I could tell.”
“What did you mean— what were those kids doing?” He frowned, trying to absorb it all into his drowsy mind.
“They can monitor dreams, mental pictures and feelings mas o menos. It’s like, well— like a window into your character I am told. People’s dreams reflect their true nature, no evasions, no game face, as they say. These jóvenes are like Santa Claus. They know if you’ve been bad or good. You know the rest of the words. That is why I never let them come near me when I’m sleeping and have learned to mask my thoughts, they are too young and innocent to know what I know.” She laughed throatily.
Reviewer: C.L. Barker - See all my reviews on Amazon.com or B&N.com
This latest work by Phillip E. Carpenter veers off course from his established genre, however it turns out to not be a bad thing. As I read this book, I immediately recall why I liked his writing so much, he brings an intelligent and literate application to a decidedly masculine and forceful style. The prologue of the book begins with what now has become almost a cliche mode, thanks to Hollywood beating the concept of a world-wide post-apocalyptic cataclysm to death, but to be fair, it is merely a set up for the main plot and there is no other way the reader could get the information required to understand the following story line. It also introduces at least two of the main characters and their backgrounds, a glimpse into their previous lives at the time of Earth's major disaster.
How they and the other interesting and unique individuals they encounter adapt to survive horrific climatological and geographical changes and the loss of their comfortable technological civilization is amazingly detailed and realistic. It becomes an adventure in the truest sense of the word, a quest for life and a struggle to maintain some form of civilized behavior among the most primitive conditions. I have always liked Carpenter's ability to get inside the minds of the various characters, making the reader feel he or she knows them personally. And these characters are very intriguing. They are too numerous and strange to list here, but one clue is the artwork on the cover of the book, the woman Samantha, a red-headed former stripper from Argentina who joins the Jaguar tribe of the Nomad Nation and must have their totem tattooed on her face to assure loyalty. Her story alone is well worth reading the book, but she is only a part of the great ensemble. The way Carpenter weaves many people's lives into this plot is a work of art and reinforces the basic premise that perseverance, integrity and honor will prevail over greed, degeneration and evil. The war between the Nomad Nation and the Host of Jesus becomes the pivotal point in the book and it is told in a manner that gives one serious pause and reflection on the human condition. Conflict over ideology is not glorified nor is it abhorred, but treated in a realistic manner, warts and all.
The only criticism I find is that in this book, as in Elephant Gun and Arabian Assignment, Carpenter tends to provide too much detail about weaponry and personal combat for my tastes. I do not need to know how to kill someone in twenty different ways or use every type of weapon from knives, bow and arrows, seige machines and antique cannons to infra-red-scoped sniper rifles, however I admit it is all well within the context of the story and emotionally entertaining. I am still shuddering from the description of how a man dies when bitten by a rattlesnake and another tortured on a cross. On balance, I prefer the parts of the book where separated people discover courage and loyalty within themselves and find each other, develop new loves and strengthen relationships and family ties. There is where the author's writing is most powerful and moving. Those who choose this book will soon see what I mean.
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Reader Reviews for "Shreds of Humanity"
|Reviewed by lilyana ramos
|I just loved this book. The flow of the plot was perfect, no bogged down spots, lots of action, romance, philosophical viewpoints from the multitude of refugees from all over the world. I also learned a lot, historical, scientific and survival information woven so craftily into the story. All the characters and their attitudes seemed so real I felt as though I was there on the adventure. Super!|
|Reviewed by Harry Smith
|This book is what got me into reading Carpenter's other earlier stuff and I was stoked because Shreds is a real adventure novel without the usual cliches so well-worn by most name authors. I found it very realistic in the approach to a post-cataclysmic world without all the techology we have come to rely on much too much. Great read!|
Phillip E. Carpenter