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Nuklear Age [Paperback]

Brian Clevinger

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2004
It's a tale of incompetence in the face of adversity.

Or is it a story of adversity in the face of incompetence?

Well, anyway, there's a robot, a giant monster, a line of evil toys, a mind control plot, sub-orbital death beams, kidnappers, bad movies, a super powered gang, an usurper, and a maniacal villain hell-bent on world domination.

Not all at once, though. I mean, really, could you imagine coordinating the fight scene? Or reading it? You'd have to take notes just to keep track of who hit what and why.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 664 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (Sept. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595325114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595325115
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 15.6 x 22.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #755,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
135 of 147 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither spectacular or horrible... Feb. 24 2005
By Doc Doom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Brian Clevinger's "Nuklear Age" seems to have a few, divided camps squabbling about how his long-awaited book is. Some blindly praise it so much that you can almost hear them speaking `leet' in their daily lives, some are disillusioned that it is not 8-bit Theatre without the pixels, and some are just bitter.

As with nearly anything so reviewed on Amazon, the truth lies somewhere in between. "Nuklear Age" has a lot of problems. Most of them are minor, but a few are major. The minor ones can be more than likely written off as a difference of taste. The major ones ... well, that's where it turns into a debate.

The first major problem is with the beginning. In the introduction, Brian tells the reader that the book is not to be read like a normal book, that it is intended to be read as one or two chapters per day. Fair enough, but I don't like to be told how to read my books. However, I gave it a go and, quite frankly, it doesn't help the book. The first, say fifteen chapters, amble along. In retrospect, upon rereading they might not seem as difficult to get through, but for a first time reader, it was a chore. Some jokes felt horribly forced ("A letter that could be a clue from my mysterious past?!"), the characters started off as paper cutouts (which, as expected, they eventually evolved beyond. For the most part). It's hard to get into and there are only a few chuckles during the tedious first battle with Dr. Menace and the subsequent victory meal. But once the Crushtacean appeared (about Chapter 20, I think. I wish I could be more accurate, but I've leant the book to a friend) the book felt to have found its niche.

Some other minor problems: editing, as has been mentioned in I think all but 2 of the current reviews, is nonexistent. Certainly, the author can't be faulted for most of these, especially since it looks that a lot of the misspellings are the result of a computer error. However, Brian's sentence structure and pacing can be grating at times. When he gets something right, it's wonderful. When it's wrong, I'm mentally pulling out the red-pen and scribbling over the page (then again, I do this with major authors too, just not with as much frequency). This isn't horrible, it just detracts from the pacing and the flow of the novel.

Now then. The characters. Atomik Lad felt like the only one who had any sort of dimension. Nukie was shallow, and I understand that was the intent, so no squabbles there. But everyone apart from Docs Genius and Menace felt like an assembly-line supporting cast with one characteristic apiece. Angus is temperamental; MMMM is suave; Nihel is Evil (with a capital "E"); Superion is a Douchebag (with a captial "Douche"). They served their purpose, but I didn't really care about them. And with over 600 pages of text, the reader SHOULD know more about them than their attitude and their powers. I felt that trimming some of the superfluous Nuke plot treads down a bit and focusing on the supporting cast could have helped a great deal.

It also felt terribly episodic at points. Nihel and his gang just show up in the last 100 pages and yet Nihel is the Nemesis (with a capital ... oh, you get the idea). Simply tossing in some foreshadowing toward his coming would greatly help strengthen the character (maybe attacking another planet beforehand, something like that). I understand that yes, comic books are episodic, but plot threads in them are still left dangling, mysteries are hinted at and resolved later on. It doesn't always have to be "SUDDENLY!". And for the most part, the book is not, but especially with the later chapters, it came off as such.

The last major problem is the ending. In the Author's Note, Brian explains that suddenly taking the book from satire to grim is funny. Why? Because it's unexpected. Bravo. You've just cheapened the story. What happens (spoiler-free) isn't funny because it has nothing to do with anything. As a satire, the book has no themes, so the big turning point has no effect because it can't operate on any themes. It just changes gears. I'm not arguing for a happy ending, I'm merely pointing out that, in trying to write a 600 page joke, the story suffers. The fact of the matter is that a joke is funny, not as Brian claims, because it's unexpected. And ONE-LINER is funny for that reason, but not a joke. A joke's punchline is predicated on an irony or an absurdity in the buildup. That's why the ending doesn't work. It's not because one "doesn't get it".

That isn't to say the book doesn't have its merits. There are several points of wonderful genius. The KI fields come to mind, as do some of the battles (I loved Superion). I'd love nothing more than to have "Nuklear Age" come into the mainstream and become on of those books like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" that serves as an apotheosis for a genre. But without some major changes or at least and OPENNESS to change, I sadly can't see any publishers wanting to invest their money in it. Publishers are stupid. With a little guidance and some sleeves-rolled-up editing, "Nuklear Age" could be one of the more ingenious works of fiction out there. As it stands, it will probably become a cult sensation.

Will I read "Nuklear Age" again? Most certainly, though not for a while. If Brian writes another book, would I pick it up? In a heartbeat. "Nuklear Age" is the origin of a fresh voice in the published industry. The voice just needs a little refining is all.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not 8-Bit. But still mesmerizing. Oct. 21 2004
By eliza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
So, maybe I'm crazy, but I didn't find the book to be all that similar to 8-Bit theatre. Sorry. For one thing, it's not just funny. I mean, it's funny, but it's not only that...it has a whole heck of a lot more to offer than one-liners and gags. If you're reading it just for humor, fine; there's plenty. If you don't want anything other than humor, or if you want a narrative version of 8-Bit, this ain't it. In case you didn't notice all the stars, I was really impressed by this book...I stayed up most of last night finishing it, and there are relatively few books that hold my interest that overwhelmingly these days. Most of them I put down around 2 or 3 am. Nuklear age, I put down when I had turned the last page over and was debating whether to burst into tears or hail Brian as the next Douglas Adams. (See, it's not just funny. Those weren't tears of laughter...never mind. Read the book.) I'm not sure if I got out of it what Brian intended, but I think that's ok...a good book should mean different things to different people. Anyway, I'm not doing this very well..sleep deprivation kinda cuts into my ability to turn thoughts into words. It was entertaining, if that's what you want. It was maybe a little earthshaking. It was very, very, very worth the thirty-odd bucks...quite a bit more, actually. I'll read it again; I'll reccommend it to my friends. Did I like it...I'm not really sure. I don't really think it matters. It's good. Buy it. Form your own opinion.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars w00t Nov. 10 2004
By Dragon Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
let me just say: wow. This book is awesome, awe-inspiring, and some just plain "ahhh." The same humor evident in his 8BT webcomic manifests itself in this book, only more so. The number of refrences to "geeky" pursuits is high, and unlike many books they are cleverly placed within the story. It has me laughing as much (or more) than the entire Hitch Hikers' Guide series. It's not what I expected, it's better. My only regret is that I couldn't get a giant hardcover copy of this book.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow Nov. 6 2004
By Christopher J. Aurelio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Working 12 to 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, it takes something phenomenal to get me to sit down and read anything during my precious time off. I found myself getting to my house at around 5 am in the morning... and reading Nuklear Age until about 7 am. Then sleeping the blessed sleep that I get so little of... and waking up at 11 am...ish, reading another hour or so, followed briskly by another 12-16 hour work day.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

So, it did take me a bit of time to get through the book, but it was well worth it. I found myself laughing during every episode/chapter. I especially found my sides hurting when I read the line that Dr. Nukie says right before he opens his birthday present. I won't type it hear because:
a) might be inappropriate :P
b) you should read the book yourself!

Toward the end of the novel, I found myself slightly reminded of the old classic Watchmen... you never see the ending coming until BAM! it hits you.

The only major issue I have with the novel was the poor spelling. I usually am not very picky when it comes to spelling... but the mispelling and the poor grammar were a constant thoughout the monsterous length novel.

Other than that... like the title of the review says, Wow.

Christopher J. Aurelio
(8-bit fanatic)

P.S. Angus was my favorite character, followed by Nuklear Man pre-last hundred or so pages.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but still brilliant Oct. 29 2004
By Douglas Scheinberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Brian Clevinger is best known for his webcomic, 8-Bit Theater. Nuklear Age is his first novel, and it was published by a small non-traditional publisher. The book was poorly edited; it contains many typographical errors, and some sentences seem to have words missing or out of place. The author's style is awkward and amateurish, and contains much Gratuitious Capatalization. The first few chapters are barely readable and are difficult to get through.

Despite all of its problems, Nuklear Age still manages to be a brilliant work of fiction. Once you get past the opening chapters and get used to the awkward writing style, it starts to become incredibly funny. Lots of absurd and bizarre things happen; a recurring joke about an accidentally created race of intelligent mutated spiders (which live behind a door labeled "Danger: Religious Differences) is particularly rewarding.

Nuklear Man, the book's most powerful superhero and a major character, is a completely self-obsessed idiot who manages to annoy everyone around him (as well as the reader), but fortunately, most of the humor isn't of the "Ha ha, let's all laugh at the poor dumb idiot" variety. The book's real main character is his sidekick, Atomik Lad, who is one of the few characters in the book to posess actual sense and is human enough to have actual depth. You do end up caring about Atomik Lad and his (ordinary) girlfriend Rachel, but this is only to set you up for the book's biggest twist.

For the first two thirds of the book, the story consists of one absurd situation and hilariously silly comic-strip-like moment after another. However, the story gradually becomes more serious, and it eventually metamorphoses from a hilarious farce to something far more dramatic and sad. It's like the movie "Life Is Beautiful" - things start out lighthearted, but by the end, you'll be crying. Bad things happen, and they're not just jokes any more. The cartoon character doesn't just get back up when the anvil falls from the sky. Main characters die and don't come back to life. Life doesn't just go on as it did before. The ending is very powerful and reminds me of the final scene of many of Shakespeare's tragedies; the fighting is over simply because there's nobody left to fight any more.

If you like Brian Clevinger's webcomic and can get through the awkward first few chapters, you will find Nuklear Age to be very rewarding. Clevinger's sheer brilliance and imagination do manage to overcome the problems with the story's presentation, but the problems are still there. If Brian can find a good editor to work with, his next book will be amazing. Until then, we'll have to live with what we have.

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