A Review of the New Gamma World Novel, “Sooner Dead”

Have no fear, avid reader of the blog. Our series “Where to find Gamma World Miniatures” will return next Thursday.  This week, we wanted to bring you a different sort of Gamma World content.  Enjoy!

We’re giving away a copy of this book!  Read on…

First, some background.  I’ve read a grand total of two D&D novels. One of them I’ve completely forgotten, and the other was a Drizzit novel.  I enjoyed neither, which is why, I suppose, I’ve only read two.  I’m not sure I can put my finger on what exactly I didn’t like about them.  Perhaps it’s simply because they didn’t live up to the “Lord of the Rings” standard.  Perhaps the authors were trying too hard to make sure each and every character fit into a neat D&D template, and never broke any of the game’s rules.  Or maybe the dialogue was just bad.  Who knows.  At any rate, I’m not a fan of the D&D novels.

I should also say that the idea of “sponsored” novels kind of turns me off.  When a company commissions a book to promote another product, it makes me not want to read the book.  In short, I guess you could say that the first Gamma World novel was already behind the eight ball in my mind.  Still, I decided to pick up Sooner Dead by Mel Odom, partly out of curiosity, and partly because I thought doing a book review might be fun.  Let me say, I was glad I did.

Note: Like any good reviewer, I’ve kept this review spoiler-free.  Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, this review contains affiliate links.

Sooner Dead follows a pair of wilderness scouts, Hella and Stampede, as they escort a team of scientists across the Redblight, which is a part of present day Oklahoma.  In game terms, Stampede is a Bisonoid (not a real origin) Seismic, and Hella is…well, aside from humanoid, I’m not sure what Hella is (though I have a theory).  And that’s one of the really cool things about the novel.  The author doesn’t go out of his way to rub your face in the fact that the book is based on the Gamma World game.  He takes the concept behind the game, and elaborates.  Which, come to think of it, is one of the things that makes the Gamma World game great – the amount of latitude given to the player’s imaginations.

The characters are believable, likeable (or unlikeable, as the case may be), and developed for the reader as the novel progresses.  Also, the cast of secondary characters is broad, both within the scientific expedition, and in the groups the expedition encounters.  The plot takes the reader to plenty of interesting locations that set the author’s vision of Gamma Terra, and the action is very well described.  There’s plenty of it, too.  Plus, an ending that leaves us wondering what happens next.

Gamma Terra in this book has a good mix of technology, guns, alien creatures, and low tech postapocalyptic wasteland.  The Redblight is a mostly wild area of the world, with sporadic trading outposts that may or may not be safe to stop in.  Very “wild west” meets “Terminator,” but not in the trainwreck way that we all know “Cowboys vs. Aliens” will be.  I mean, come on, does ANYone think that will be a good movie??

Finally, the one small gripe I had with the book.  And it’s a small one.  At one point, one of the characters mentions that something is “like rolling a 20 on a d20.”  While the narrative went on to justify why the character would say something like that, it was jarring enough to knock my imagination out of its “suspended disbelief.” I get it – the author is winking at the audience, but I don’t think it was necessary.  See?  Small gripe. 

Pick this book up.  No, it’s not classic literature, thank heavens, and it doesn’t try to be.  Of that I’m glad.  This was a really fun read, and I hope that Wizards of the Coast has Mel write more Gamma World for us.  Especially if we can find out more about Hella and Stampede.  In case anyone is listening….

And now, the contest

I am giving away a copy of “Sooner Dead” by Mel Odom to one lucky reader.  You can enter the contest a total of twice; you get one entry for each of the following:

  • Add a comment to this post. I will frown at your comment if it is not funny, but it will count as an entry nonetheless.
  • Tweet the following: RT @bandofmisfits Read the review & win a copy of the new #GammaWorld novel “Sooner Dead”! http://trunc.it/ebagk
  • While you’re over at Twitter, go ahead and follow us; it won’t help you for this contest, but the next contest we have planned will pick its winner out of our Twitter followers.  It’s kind of like entering that contest ahead of time.

The contest ends on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time. We’ll post the winner as part of this Sunday’s Weekly Roundup.  Good luck!!

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19 Responses to A Review of the New Gamma World Novel, “Sooner Dead”

  1. Marcin Kępa says:

    I know I’m going to regret it sooner or later… but… but… I really want this book [sigh of relief]

    On serious note, im thinking about singing here twice, but I dont see any other comments at this moment.


    • Benoit says:

      It’s actually a good book. I was surprised, to be honest.

      Just to be clear, the way to enter twice is to post once here, and once on Twitter. Posting here twice will not get you two entries in the contest.

  2. mvincent says:

    I was told this was a new Vampire novel. What’s ‘Gamma World’?

    • Marcin Kępa says:

      Then i can i write it without fear of unfair competition:)

      Thanks for clarification. I can’t remember good book written for setting though (maybe expect Dragonlance, it was awful and briliant at the same time)


  3. Chris Lackey says:

    My whole life, I have always dreamed about riding a giant lizard after being transformed into a buffalo man. Now someone has made my dream into a dream with text! I must have it! I must! I can’t stop crying!

  4. Quit picking on Cowboys and Aliens, its gong to be the defining movie of our generation! err… summer? OK, its going to be the defining movie poster I stare at next time I’m in line waiting for overpriced nachos and what they call ‘cheese’ but probably came from the inside of a meteor.

    Maybe my brain is just making an inappropriate connection between Man vs. Food and Creepshow… sounds like a good Gamma World adventure 🙂

  5. Craig says:

    Cowboys vs Aliens? You guys are joking right?

    OMG… you’re not!

  6. MolotovH says:

    Bisonoid, huh? Sounds like we could get some ideas for a new addition to the Custom Origin’s Compilation from this book!

  7. Wesley says:

    Please don’t frown at my comment, it may not be funny but its well meaning and very loyal. I imagine much like a hoop is. Are there hoops or badders in this book?

  8. tartex says:

    I want this so much for my Kindle. No clue why they don’t sell it as ebook. Most D&D novels are.

    • Benoit says:

      Yeah, I was surprised by that too. I did notice that the next Gamma World novel, coming out in July, will be available on the Kindle. (I forget the title. If you click the product link in the article, it should come up as a suggested book, or I may have added it to our store)

      • Alton says:

        I currently have an ereader and I was able to purchase this novel from day one.

        You are right thought. It is a novel that sticks with me: read it and loved it. Stampede and Hella make a good team

  9. Maurice Tousignant aka Gilvan Blight says:

    Rolling for comment: (1) CRAP! Alpha Flux!
    Digitized, you may only speak in binary… damn:

  10. burchj says:

    Really got into gamma world but a novel based on it in my mind seemed would be a train wreck. Thanks for the review, I’ve been waiting for one since the release day.

  11. I was surprised they set a novel in Gamma World. Could be an interesting read.

  12. SteveB says:

    Cowboys & Aliens is actually based on a graphic novel of the same name which came out a few years back. The graphic novel was highly reviewed and highly praised for originality, story, etc. and involved several veterans of the comic book industry.

    The movie is directed by Jon Favreau, who proved (to me at least) that he could take a character whom I never cared about (Iron Man) and make a decent movie about him, all the while resurrecting a certain actor’s career in the process.

    I’m willing to give the movie a chance based on those facts, and also because I’m a fan of both sci fi and westerns, and Firefly proved to me that the genres CAN meet and become something outstanding.

  13. dulsi says:

    Good to hear that it isn’t awful. Sad to hear that they didn’t use anything recognizable from the game. I agree those can be really poorly done but after the novel was written it would take much effort to stat one or two creatures from the novel in one of the expansions.

  14. Scott Stewart says:

    I am personally looking forward to the sequel, “Native Amerincan and MIBs” I think the action will be much more exciting.

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