After slogging through Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (starts strong, ends weak), I was in the mood for something a little lighter.  I wanted crazy mutants, radiated landscapes, and lots of action.  Not as guns and ammo as Deathlands, but more like Gamma World in a book, and after some looking around, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are in fact a couple of Gamma World novels, both published just this year.

So I bought them both and just finished the first one, Sooner Dead by Mel Odom, and it turns out it was exactly what I was looking for.

Now it’s been a long time since I cracked open a Gamma World rule book, so I forget what the mythology said about the cause of the apocalypse, but in these books it was a mishap with the Large Hadron Collider. It tore apart the world, and opened ripples, gateways to other worlds and dimensions, bringing all manner of strange creatures into ours.

Having the plot device of rampant inter-dimensional wormholes means that you can introduce basically anything you want into your story, and Mr Odom certainly took advantage of that.  This book has human-animal hybrids, cyborgs, nanobot-enhanced humans, alien creatures, and more kinds of psionic abilities than I could count, all set in what 200 years before was known as Oklahoma.

The story follows Hella, a bio-engineered young woman with a mysterious past, and her bisonoid companion, Stampede, as they serve as guides for a group hunting for a lost object in the ruinous wastes of the American southwest.  It’s a fast-paced adventure chock full of gun fights, raiders, mutant creatures, mystery, loyalty, and betrayal.

I really enjoyed it, and if there’s ever a sequel following the same characters, I’d be sure to pick it up.

Overall, I can definitely recommend it, at least if you’re the right mood for it.  My official rating for Sooner Dead is 7 Megatons.