View Full Version : MobileRead Discussion: Refuge by Richard Herley (spoilers)


pilotbob
02-22-2009, 06:50 PM
Hello all.. welcome to the discussion thread for the MobileRead Book Club February 2009 book selection. This was a good one and lots to talk about. So, lets get started.

BOb

Fledchen
02-22-2009, 07:07 PM
I almost gave up on this book after the first two chapters, but I am glad that I did not.

For me, violence, and especially sexual violence, is a turn-off in a story. There has to be something engaging about the story to keep me from setting at aside and reading something else.

I enjoyed the complexity of the characters, and that it was hard to pin them down as a simple archetype.

desertgrandma
02-22-2009, 07:17 PM
My biggest problem with the story was the complete refusal of the community to fight for their women and men.

Would a global devastation turn people into such sheep, that they would allow a band of teen agers to control them to such an extent?

I realize the initial atrocities committed would stun anyone. However, once that wears off, its time to take kick some butt and take your lives back.

No one wants to die. But living like that is worse.

I did love the book, and the evolution of the main character.

lilac_jive
02-22-2009, 07:18 PM
This book was definitely...visceral.

I'm so glad I read it though. It was a complete departure from what I normally read. I liked reading how people reacted in different ways to the annihilation of the human race. I think usually the story is how the world crumbles (man,, I'm having trouble putting this into words), not how the survivors survive after the fact.

My only question was how are they getting gasoline? Doesn't it degrade after a while?

Anyway, I think the most moving part for me was the hospital scene. That was sad :(

Fledchen
02-22-2009, 07:35 PM
My biggest problem with the story was the complete refusal of the community to fight for their women and men.

Would a global devastation turn people into such sheep, that they would allow a band of teen agers to control them to such an extent?

I realize the initial atrocities committed would stun anyone. However, once that wears off, its time to take kick some butt and take your lives back.

No one wants to die. But living like that is worse.

I did love the book, and the evolution of the main character.

It surprised me, too. The people seemed very passive and timid. How do people with those personality traits manage to survive for over a decade with limited resources?

Maybe there's a tradeoff between the ability to co-operate peacefully, and the ability to co-operate to fight against an external threat?

desertgrandma
02-22-2009, 07:58 PM
It surprised me, too. The people seemed very passive and timid. How do people with those personality traits manage to survive for over a decade with limited resources?

Maybe there's a tradeoff between the ability to co-operate peacefully, and the ability to co-operate to fight against an external threat?

Co-operating peacefully within a group in order to survive is easy.

You do that or die.

But, if you cannot band together to protect your own, you will surely be eliminated by the first threat that comes along.

Thats what happened to the other villages that these miserable low lifes visited, and what would have happened to this one had it not been for Suter.

ShortNCuddlyAm
02-22-2009, 08:12 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed Refuge, although I wouldn't have minded slightly less detailed info about the guns ;)

I did find it a little odd that England just before the catastrophe (2016ish? Can't remember off hand :o) ) seemed to bear a marked resemblance to an earlier England (definitely 1970s, and probably earlier, although I wasn't around then), but not so much that it was jarring. And it did help suggest why some of the survivors at least were behaving how they did.

I could see how that comunity had survived for so long without a communal backbone though - they had a leader who told them what to do. They had enough will and common sense to flock to some-one who seemed to be in control, but beyond that... Without him around, they were helpless, as witnessed by most of them not wanting to do anything against the incomers after he'd been taken prisoner. And there is also a subsection of the populace, certainly in England, who seem to believe that most teens are the spawn of satan, and only out to cause harm and chaos, but who are too scared of what will happen to them to do anything about it.

The hospital and football ground scenes were the ones that really helped me visualaise how England was - largely because I have a better recollection of them than some of the other places mentioned!

I almost thought that Richard Herley was going to pull a "Jacob's Ladder" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob's_Ladder_(film)) ending at the end - I'm rather glad he didn't as I felt the main character deserved better than that :)

DixieGal
02-22-2009, 08:13 PM
I read it at work during breaks, and people kept glancing over my shoulder at the giant 200% zoom and seeing things that shocked them. I don't enjoy books with violence, and there was plenty of it here.

As I read, I kept looking for the types of refuges. The main character is very unsocial and seems to have been that way even before the plague. He had external refuges, especially his home, which he had turned into a fortress. Why did he need so much firepower if he believed he was the last man alive?

He also has his internal refuges. He clings to the memory of a woman who betrayed him. As the story unfolds, we learn that the woman had left him before the plague. Furthermore, he has a continuous dialog with himself, and through these conversations, it is revealed that he does not really believe in himself as a good or brave man.

The townspeople were a disappointment to me also, as they seem to be to the members above. When their refuge, the town itself, was violated, instead of defending themselves, they gave up all power and became, in a way, refugees. They lost the ability to decide how to live as a community.

As a story, I think it would work much better as a short story. Lose all of the boring descriptions of every tree, path, and building. It screams "FILLER." Lose the gay sexual abuse sub-plot because it doesn't add a single thing to the plot. Instead, concentrate on his isolated existence in his fortress home, finding the dead man in the river, and the action throughout the rest of the book. I think it is a good idea and would have a good chance of selling, if it were tightened up.

pshrynk
02-22-2009, 08:28 PM
I really enjoyed the character development of the protagonist. I could really understand where the leader of the pack of jackals became who he was. I think I would have liked a bit more on the development of Suter, though. Some fleshing out of the pre-plague background. He seemed rich, but was it only his parents' money? That sort of thing.

jj2me
02-22-2009, 08:59 PM
I *really* liked this book. I guess I just like survivor tales. But most are fanciful, with heroes that know no fear, situations that don't seem real.

I loved the realism, or what I perceive as realistic scenarios, real reactions, realistic inclusions of equipment and how real knife fighting goes, dog packs, and physical symptoms of fear. Suter seemed a real person, not the typical male hero character in a book.

This book got my heart beating a few times, a page-turner, uh, page-button-pusher.

4.5 stars out of 5, only because my mind pictures of the scenes just came out dark, I don't know why. Does an ebook reader do that? Or the rainy climate of England? Or maybe just a realistic lack of post apocalypse color? Also a small thing, but I'd like the ending to have occurred a little bit later, maybe a page or two showing a later time, a month or more later. I guess I liked Suter and his flaws, and wanted to see him succeed in this community. (But that kind of ending might have been difficult to pull off without dragging down the story.) I'd round up to 5 if no half-points were allowed.

Good point about the fuel, though maybe diesel lasts longer than gasoline. Ammunition goes bad, though none seemed to in the story.

Good point about the sheepishness of the community in light of the killings and rapes. Maybe a slightly different development of Philip Davies' leadership, or adherence to some passive stricture of their religion could have made it more believable.

I noticed more than usual the differences between the King's English and American English:

My American dictionary failed on
- "louche" (as in louche subversiveness),
- "eidetic" (as in eidetic detail)

Some phrases such as "put paid to" (as in "A few more sturdy kicks put paid to enough of the panel to let him through") are new to me.

And "puissant" was not only abundant in the narrative, but was also spoken at least once by a character. Odd, as I don't think I've ever heard that word before.

pilotbob
02-22-2009, 09:33 PM
I'm going to put full impressions up later. Just an interesting fact, I put this book into LibraryThing (which I do after each book I read now). It wasn't found at amazon, maybe this one was never published? I don't know. So I had to add it manually.

But, 1 other member had it. And we share 19 books. That's alot considering I only have 453 books read/listed.

BOb

desertgrandma
02-22-2009, 09:58 PM
As I read, I kept looking for the types of refuges. The main character is very unsocial and seems to have been that way even before the plague. He had external refuges, especially his home, which he had turned into a fortress. Why did he need so much firepower if he believed he was the last man alive?


Do you remember about the dogs? He truly felt he was the last man alive, and had to forage far and wide for supplies. He had to live 'off the land'. Of course he needed a firepower. Without that, how would he be able to protect himself from animals? Once civilization dies, and the wilds really take over....who know what is going to be out there?

And, I think in the back of his head, he wanted to be prepared for every eventuality. He was a survivor.

Life isn't 'nice'. You may not like stories about violence and sexual overtones, but its occurring all over the world now. People who are too weak to defend themselves will always be oppressed.

People who take advantage of the weak aren't "nice". They come with a full range of sexual and violent appetites that aren't spoken about at the dinner table. The scenes described were very appropriate for this book.

In a world that Mr. Herley speaks of, you are either the victim or the monster, unless you have the guts to stand up and fight for what is yours.

I must say, Suter was starting to annoy me, until I realized.......this is a true hero. He was terrified thruout, yet kept doing what he knew was right. Especially at the end. Heroes aren't like what we see on TV........they cry, they shake with fear. But.......they keep doing what they know they have to.

lilac_jive
02-22-2009, 10:04 PM
I'm going to put full impressions up later. Just an interesting fact, I put this book into LibraryThing (which I do after each book I read now). It wasn't found at amazon, maybe this one was never published? I don't know. So I had to add it manually.

But, 1 other member had it. And we share 19 books. That's alot considering I only have 453 books read/listed.

BOb

I don't think it was ever published, except for on his site.

desertgrandma
02-22-2009, 10:05 PM
As a story, I think it would work much better as a short story. Lose all of the boring descriptions of every tree, path, and building. It screams "FILLER." Lose the gay sexual abuse sub-plot because it doesn't add a single thing to the plot. Instead, concentrate on his isolated existence in his fortress home, finding the dead man in the river, and the action throughout the rest of the book. I think it is a good idea and would have a good chance of selling, if it were tightened up.

I disagree. I thought the descriptions helped fill in what things might look like after a period of time..

The gay sexual abuse sub-plot does add to the story, because it describes how power is used. Power isn't always about shooting someone. Rape is a power trip from the git go. How did Bex keep his minions in control? By allowing them to do what they wanted...and he knew what they wanted.....he was a brilliant sociopath.

I wouldn't change anything.......except I wondered how these people would react if the same thing happened again, and their new leader was shot right off the bat........

Tattncat
02-23-2009, 01:51 AM
I dropped out for taxes, and coincidently where the sodomites came in.

Richard Herley
02-23-2009, 02:50 AM
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.

In the end I rejected all that as too arty and complicated and just went for the straight narrative, leaving in those few hints and echoes as a way of destabilizing his sanity further.

Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.

One publisher's reader complained that Bex was not evil enough, so in the rewrite I just took my cue from what was in the newspapers -- accounts from Kosovo, Rwanda, Colombia, you name it.

I don't think gasoline or diesel would have become unusable after that period of time, if kept properly sealed. The ammo I don't know about. All the gun stuff came from library books; I know nothing about them myself.

May I also thank those members who have sent me a payment for Refuge? I greatly appreciate your support, but I did waive payment for the purposes of this reading, so please help yourself to another book on the house! Those who didn't mind the violence might like The Penal Colony; those who did should try The Tide Mill.

Sparrow
02-23-2009, 03:42 AM
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, a definite page turner.
The author did a great job of creating a gripping tale in a fully imagined environment. I was thoroughly absorbed throughout. :thumbsup:
Desertgrandma has already made some good points about the way communities and individuals react in lawless circumstances.
This could almost have been a Western - with the 'man with no name' riding into town to protect it from the outlaws.
It was a relief that the violence didn't get more grim than that of the first few chapters - I worried that the ante would keep being upped to even more nauseating levels; but the author resisted that temptation.
There seemed to be a whiff of intellectual pretension in some parts of the narrative (discussion of IQs, use of obscure vocabulary, foreign language snippets etc.) - but it didn't get too annoying, and just about fitted in.
The fetishising of weapons - knives and guns - was depressing, but probably realistic in an environment where they were relied on for survival. (There seemed to be a lot of Kalashnikovs in England; I know nothing about weaponry - but I'd have thought there would have been other types of rifles in our military stores.)
I was hoping Suter wouldn't get sucked into the community at the end - but that's just me. :)
I'd happily recommend it for those not of a squeamish disposition.

There were a few apparent typos in my copy:
Chapter 5
"ward away the brambles in directly front" - think it should be "directly in front".
"'mathematical arrangement of domed druplets"' - think it should be "droplets".

Chapter 6
"Steve made out of the form of two lift doorways" - think it should be "made out the form"
Also, in this chapter, I was puzzled by the word "might" in "Daylight dwindled, might soon be left behind." - it seems a bit uncertain for something so definite.

lilac_jive
02-23-2009, 08:20 AM
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.

In the end I rejected all that as too arty and complicated and just went for the straight narrative, leaving in those few hints and echoes as a way of destabilizing his sanity further.

Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.

One publisher's reader complained that Bex was not evil enough, so in the rewrite I just took my cue from what was in the newspapers -- accounts from Kosovo, Rwanda, Colombia, you name it.

I don't think gasoline or diesel would have become unusable after that period of time, if kept properly sealed. The ammo I don't know about. All the gun stuff came from library books; I know nothing about them myself.

May I also thank those members who have sent me a payment for Refuge? I greatly appreciate your support, but I did waive payment for the purposes of this reading, so please help yourself to another book on the house! Those who didn't mind the violence might like The Penal Colony; those who did should try The Tide Mill.

Oooh that makes things even more interesting, knowing all that.

I'm going to check out your other books (but too bad, I'm donating!)

radius
02-23-2009, 11:15 AM
I noticed more than usual the differences between the King's English and American English:

My American dictionary failed on
- "louche" (as in louche subversiveness),
- "eidetic" (as in eidetic detail)

<snip>

And "puissant" was not only abundant in the narrative, but was also spoken at least once by a character. Odd, as I don't think I've ever heard that word before.

I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage :bookworm:

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)

lilac_jive
02-23-2009, 11:26 AM
I got the impression that the one unintelligent character (drawing a blank here) was the only one who said it, and he was doing so to impress Bex.

desertgrandma
02-23-2009, 11:27 AM
I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage :bookworm:

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)


I kept reading 'piss ant' :smack:

jj2me
02-23-2009, 11:28 AM
I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage :bookworm:

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)

Thank you, I'll take your good advice. I just checked the copyright date of my nice fat "Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, College Edition." 1968.

jj2me
02-23-2009, 11:35 AM
I must say, Suter was starting to annoy me, until I realized.......this is a true hero. He was terrified thruout, yet kept doing what he knew was right. Especially at the end. Heroes aren't like what we see on TV........they cry, they shake with fear. But.......they keep doing what they know they have to.

I agree with your whole "life isn't nice" post, but especially this. I think you've nailed why "Refuge" was so fascinating to me. This hero was real! And all novels and TV before this book aren't.

And your definition of hero is spot on. Am awaiting *your* novel.

DixieGal
02-23-2009, 12:06 PM
Sorry! You know I wasn't trying to be mean, right? I've left plenty of reviews on the "Let's get some action going" thread where I have disliked violent books. I simply prefer not to read such graphic descriptions.

Richard, I plan to get The Tide Mill. Thanks for making it available!

pilotbob
02-23-2009, 12:06 PM
I kept reading 'piss ant' :smack:

Actually, it is the opposite of pissant.

BOb

desertgrandma
02-23-2009, 01:10 PM
Sorry! You know I wasn't trying to be mean, right? I've left plenty of reviews on the "Let's get some action going" thread where I have disliked violent books. I simply prefer not to read such graphic descriptions.

Richard, I plan to get The Tide Mill. Thanks for making it available!

DG, you couldn't be mean for the life of you.

The entire story wouldn't have had the impact without the graphic descriptions. It was a post apopolypic tale, after all.

I just wanted to stress......God help us all if/when anything like this ever happens. There will be survivors, good and bad, weak and strong.

Guess what will happen to the good and weak?

pilotbob
02-23-2009, 01:12 PM
Guess what will happen to the good and weak?

They inherit the earth?

BOb

desertgrandma
02-23-2009, 01:15 PM
They inherit the earth?

BOb

:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl: Here's another cup of kool-aid!

lilac_jive
02-23-2009, 01:37 PM
They inherit the earth?

BOb

This reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes:

Malcolm: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man. Man creates dinosaurs."
Sattler: "Dinosaurs eat man...Woman inherits the earth."

:rofl:

I kept thinking the whole time that the survivors probably had the same thing that people who (theoretically) survived the plague and are immune against HIV. Their cells don't have the receptacles that those kind of viruses enter in.

DixieGal
02-23-2009, 03:47 PM
Woman inherits the earth?

Hey Richard! There's the title for the next book in the series!

ShortNCuddlyAm
02-23-2009, 04:40 PM
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.


Thanks for clarifying about the time frame it was written in :)

I also found an echo of 3 in when he was recovering at the end. I really did thing for a moment that it was either going to be a dying hallucination, or that he was in a mental hospital. Or, of course, possibly both.

I definitely intend to try your other books on the strength of this one.

Barcey
02-23-2009, 05:41 PM
I too enjoyed the book.

I was initially struck by the similarities with The Stone Arrow. A single survivor living in the wild taking on the village... A completely different time, place and storyline but other then that there were some similarities. :D

I was raised in a pacifist religion so I found the religious commune credible. The contrast between the group that embraced religion after the devastation and the other group that used religious ceremony and rituals to perform the atrocities was interesting. Both forms of control (IMHO).

I liked the characters. The hero wasn't a superman/Rambo character and despite the planning and traps things go wrong.

desertgrandma
02-23-2009, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.

In the end I rejected all that as too arty and complicated and just went for the straight narrative, leaving in those few hints and echoes as a way of destabilizing his sanity further.

Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.

One publisher's reader complained that Bex was not evil enough, so in the rewrite I just took my cue from what was in the newspapers -- accounts from Kosovo, Rwanda, Colombia, you name it.

I don't think gasoline or diesel would have become unusable after that period of time, if kept properly sealed. The ammo I don't know about. All the gun stuff came from library books; I know nothing about them myself.

May I also thank those members who have sent me a payment for Refuge? I greatly appreciate your support, but I did waive payment for the purposes of this reading, so please help yourself to another book on the house! Those who didn't mind the violence might like The Penal Colony; those who did should try The Tide Mill.

Huh. I must have no imagination at all. None of the 'intentions' you left open to doubt occured to me at all......I took the book at face value, and never questions Suter's sanity. Living alone for 12 years would make anyone talk to themselves, and act strange around other people as he did.

I don't think most people in countries like USA and England have any clue what real evil is. Kosovo, Rwanda, Columbia, they are just pics on the Tv.

We are so used to the niceties of civilized life, being able to call a cop if we need help, go into a doctors office if we are ill.

No one is going to saw off our heads in front of a camera while we are living to prove a religious point.

No one is going to come thru and massacre our menfolk, murder our babies, and rape the remaining females, ages nothwithstanding.

Not very nice pictures, true, but realistic in parts of the world. And I guess thats what struck me about this book.

Realistic picture of what could be.

Thank you, Mr. Herley. I won't be reading it again, but I won't forget it. :)

Xenophon
02-23-2009, 10:22 PM
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.
[SNIP]

I'll comment on the content of the book after I've ruminated a bit more. But I had to comment on the "publishing" history... If your agent didn't send it to Baen, he/she should. I think this book would be right down their alley!

Xenophon

JSWolf
02-23-2009, 10:55 PM
Huh. I must have no imagination at all. None of the 'intentions' you left open to doubt occured to me at all......I took the book at face value, and never questions Suter's sanity. Living alone for 12 years would make anyone talk to themselves, and act strange around other people as he did.
From what I gathered, Suter may have started to go strange after Helen left him and when she died and he thought he was truly alone, that's when he started to talk to himself.

Trono
02-24-2009, 03:26 AM
Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.


Thanks Richard, for clarifications. I enjoyed this book very much, and it was a fast read, but I did feel like something was missing in the descriptions of the people involved - regarding both their physical and emotional lives. It has been mentioned by others - and I too sometimes had questions about the characters - and wished for a bit more elaboration on the background stories of both the good guy / bad guys - and the neutrals. Your explanations here makes for a real AHA-experience :)

Even though stories of survivors of doomsday is probably not that original, I haven't personally read many of them. And I was intrigued by the way the book made me think "out of the box" by putting me into this age of near future. I especially liked the descriptions of how the wildlife was claiming nature back. The transition of the vegetation and animals into more of a stone age condition "came to life" in a convincing way, and the story brought me into the right state of mind really fast. All in all, a very good read.

BlackVoid
02-24-2009, 04:06 AM
I gave up after 2 chapters. :eek:

ShortNCuddlyAm
02-24-2009, 06:23 AM
I gave up after 2 chapters. :eek:

Nothing wrong with that - not every book is to everyone's taste!

What made you give up on it?

pilotbob
02-24-2009, 12:36 PM
I gave up after 2 chapters. :eek:

You gave up too soon. The book really takes off in chapter 5.

BOb

JSWolf
02-24-2009, 12:53 PM
I gave up after 2 chapters. :eek:
I do understand why you gave up, but, the book is a lot better after that. Give it another go.

Richard Herley
02-24-2009, 02:04 PM
Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. To answer a few points arising:

Sparrow - thanks for finding those typos. I proof my texts about a hundred times, but some always seem to get through.

radius and lilac_jive - "puissance" was a term introduced by Bex to impress his followers with the strength of his, and their, magic powers. It's a common enough word in old literature about knights and jousting and whatnot.

DixieGal - I hope you like The Tide Mill.

Barcey - yes, there was even a little in-joke: the voles. When Tagart is waiting for deer, he sees a vole being taken by a pike; but Suter's vole is cannier than that.

Xenophon - too late, the book's already in the wild!

Blackvoid - fair enough. That's the nice thing about "pay-if-you-like-it".

Xenophon
02-24-2009, 03:26 PM
Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. To answer a few points arising:

Xenophon - too late, the book's already in the wild!


Not necessarily too late. Really. Baen has published in paper books they gave away online first. They've given away books that they published in paper first... Basically, it can't hurt to ask.


Xenophon

Richard Herley
02-24-2009, 04:57 PM
Basically, it can't hurt to ask.

XenophonYou're quite right, of course, so I have done just that. Thanks for the advice!

As my mum used to say, in pre-email days, "it's only a stamp" ...

jj2me
02-24-2009, 08:52 PM
I'm going to check out your other books (but too bad, I'm donating!)

Ditto. Though I appreciate the offer for a freebie, I'm feeling guilty. How can £1 be enough? Is that what a writer makes from a hardcover? a paperback?

Feeling guilty because now that it's read I'm missing it. That tells me I loved reading it. Only a few books have made me feel that way.

Richard Herley
02-25-2009, 09:10 AM
How can £1 be enough? Is that what a writer makes from a hardcover? a paperback?
The average paperback royalty is 7.5% of cover-price, half of which goes to the publisher of the original hardback, if there was one. So the author normally gets 3.75%, less the agent's commission, typically 15% on home sales and 20% on foreign, less VAT on the commission. Thus, from a £6.99 paperback sold in the home market, the author can expect to gross 21.7p. This was the setup when I was being published in paper; these days the author gets even less, because of discounting by supermarkets and big chains.

On hardbacks sold at full cover price, the author typically grosses 10%, so he might get £1.49 from a £17.99 sale; and again, much less on "price received" deals with discounters, book clubs, and so on.

Of course, better selling authors and their agents can negotiate better deals than this, and 15% royalty is common higher up the food-chain. Even so, many, many books have to sell before the author can contemplate writing as a profession.

By the time a £1 payment reaches me from PayPal, I get 76p, which is about half a hardback royalty and 3.6x a paperback royalty; but then the majority of downloaders (something like 98%) do not pay. What the proportion of non-paying, satisfied readers is I don't know. However there is an inbuilt expectation that stuff from the internet should be free; and with books this sense of entitlement is further reinforced by the fact that readers pay nothing to borrow from the public library.

My take on the economics of modern authorship is here:

http://www.richardherley.com/FTCebooks.html

Feeling guilty because now that it's read I'm missing it. That tells me I loved reading it. Only a few books have made me feel that way.
That is one of the nicest things I have ever been told by a reader -- :thanks:

JSWolf
02-25-2009, 09:13 AM
The way Refuge ended gives room for a sequel. If there is another story to tell, a sequel would be nice.

5stack
02-25-2009, 02:40 PM
I really enjoyed it ! I thought the character Bex had a Clockwork Orange feel to him, in the sense that his concept of morality, (or rather absence of it) was relativistic. Without a system of ethics, whether from society to challenge his actions, or to another degree, from religion, which he disdains, he in a sense made up his own concept of good and evil. With the introduction of Suter into the picture, his entire "world view", with himself at the centre, was threatened. I very much enjoyed seeing this play out. Very well written !

June
02-26-2009, 10:38 AM
What a good read - I just finished the Refuge and am already missing the characters. I would love to read a sequel one day...

The first few chapters, with more graphical violence/sex had me wondering where the book would lead, but it turned out to be a good and interesting book. Hmmm... maybe a less graphic introduction to the book wold be a good idea, as to not scare people off?! On the other hand the violence was all in context, it gives a good description of the antagonist attitude towards "fellow" man.

A good book (and IMO worth much more than the donation you're asking for, paying that little makes me feel guilty).

Fledchen
02-26-2009, 02:34 PM
I'm interested to know what everyone's thoughts are regarding Suter's transition from wanting to kill everyone in the village to protect himself, to being the village's protector. I wasn't expecting him to turn his goals around quite that much.

ShortNCuddlyAm
02-26-2009, 04:11 PM
I'm interested to know what everyone's thoughts are regarding Suter's transition from wanting to kill everyone in the village to protect himself, to being the village's protector. I wasn't expecting him to turn his goals around quite that much.

I got the feeling he wasn't especially serious about doing that - that he was trying to talk himself into not caring and not feeling; and/or hiding the fact he still did care and feel.

desertgrandma
02-26-2009, 04:52 PM
I'm interested to know what everyone's thoughts are regarding Suter's transition from wanting to kill everyone in the village to protect himself, to being the village's protector. I wasn't expecting him to turn his goals around quite that much.


He had been without human contact so long, his first thoughts were to protect himself.....he saw them as a threat to his safety and peace of mind.

Once he started interacting with people, and became more 'socially acclimatized', so to speak, his natural human instinct to help came forward.

Not everyone has this instinct, luckily for the village, he did.

lilac_jive
02-26-2009, 05:16 PM
I wanted to know what happened to the book that Phil compiled about the property. Presumably it burnt down with the rest of the house?

=X=
02-26-2009, 09:53 PM
Okay I just finished the book today. I actually started reading this book as soon as I recommended it but stopped once I hit chapter 2. Since I’ve always finished every book I’ve started plus it actually won the nomination I forced myself to finish.

I’m glad I did the book was great. I really enjoyed the plot, story line, and the social psychology. I will say this the details in chapter two is just not needed and added no value to the book. You continue to lose a lot of readers because of this scene and that is a shame because this book was truly excellent…. But it is your book and you will receive an donation from me regardless :)

BTW what is the USD rate $2.5? (never mind I found the price $1.50)

QUICK SUMMERY
-The battle of good/evil both on the physical level (Suter vs Bex) and on the spiritual (faith/faithless) was well written. The author covered both topics well in intervolved them quite nicely. Society often thinks that evil is faithless yet in Refuge, some of the most faithful where indeed evil characters.

-The suspense/battle scenes where fantastic, I was at the edge of my seat trying to read as fast as I could.

=X=

=X=
02-26-2009, 09:59 PM
Once he started interacting with people, and became more 'socially acclimatized', so to speak, his natural human instinct to help came forward.


Yea one thing I found weak in his character development was how he truly seemed like a loner, anti-social. Yet he was extremely lonely.

It's one thing if he became compulsive as a coping mechanism, but from the story line it seems he was compulsive all his life. It just didn't jive.

=X=

=X=
02-26-2009, 10:02 PM
Bob, I wonder if you want to put Richard's Information at the beginning of this thread, esp if folks who read the book wish to make a donation.

BTW Richard Thanks again.

=X=

jj2me
02-27-2009, 12:30 AM
I'm interested to know what everyone's thoughts are regarding Suter's transition from wanting to kill everyone in the village to protect himself, to being the village's protector. I wasn't expecting him to turn his goals around quite that much.

I think I missed (or forgot) where he wanted to kill everyone in the village, sorry. Assuming that happened and I missed it, I could nevertheless understand the change.

His first "contact" with these surviving humans was a murdered corpse. Then he gleaned from Muriel that the village was filled with cowards (against a multitude of murderers).

And he had spent years protecting himself from dogs and whatever other threats there may have been.

And he had a full routine of daily tasks to stay nourished and healthy (like tooth care) and safe and as civilized as possible. Disruption of the routine would put his very survival at risk.

As a person, he had always been comfortable alone. And he seemed to feel deeply when he was abruptly dumped by Helen I, yet didn't seem bitter. A likable character, to me anyway.

He made this first human contact with Muriel, then only took action when he saw her life being threatened. A reckless act for one who wanted to stay safely out of the mess, but a human act by a likable, decent human. Once that was done, he was trapped into a kill-or-be-killed situation (he knew he would never feel safe or at peace again if he didn't engage fully). And he would only want to kill the real threats, Bex and his gang. The others could be useful as allies.

So in my reading I never viewed him as looking to be the "village protector." He may have gotten that role as an accidental byproduct of hunting down Bex and his men for his own reasons (his future peace and safety).

Suter's character development seemed to fit his subsequent actions very well for me. (That's not to say the story was predictable.)

Sparrow
02-27-2009, 06:25 AM
So in my reading I never viewed him as looking to be the "village protector." He may have gotten that role as an accidental byproduct of hunting down Bex and his men for his own reasons (his future peace and safety).

That's how it seemed to me too - which was one reason I was hoping he'd walk away at the end.

pilotbob
03-01-2009, 01:40 PM
Finally my thoughts.. review.

(I wish I had more time to go back through the chapters and make this post more detailed. But, I have to do my taxes in fill out an FAFSA too. From now on I am going to actually use the Annotate/Clippings feature of my Kindle as I read the MRBC books. DUH!:smack:)

This book started out with a bang. Good action... a mystery and a mysterious character. I couldn't wait to turn the page (change the screen?) to see what would happen next.

Then, chapter 2 and the book crashed to the ground. Not that it was bad, it was just very different and hit you hard with religious symbolism and homosexual topics, somewhat explicit also. Not that I have a problem with this if it fits into the story.

It was hard to keep reading after chapter two... It was like I had read the first chapter of two different books. One was mostly action, very little descriptions of scenery and such. The second chapter was dripping with that stuff.

I continued on... I don't recall chapters 3&4 very much. But, the book really took off in chap 5. This is where Suter meets Muriel of course. It was back to the book started in chapter 1. Things moved quickly from that point forward.

Then, every now and then we got more of the chapter 2 book. So, I do see Dixie Gals comments about how the action scenes and the descriptive symbolism scenes were very separated. They didn't seem to merge well.

Suter to me was totally normal. Yes, he was stir crazy. He was torn between doing the right thing and doing the easy thing. Aren't we all? He didn't want to get involved. Which giving the gun to Muriel he knew he was doing. When he killed the first gang member he didn't enjoy it. He didn't even know why he did it.

Suter, was not perfect. He made mistakes. But luckily he overcame this.

The towns people were a bit cowed, yes. But, there were some that were ploting to fight back. But, it isn't easy to defeat a gang of 8 with weapons. Also, they are like most people, they trusted they were keeping their leader safe by not fighting back. However, after several of their own were killed they needed to understand that their leader would rather have sacrificed himself if it saved his people.

Remember, everyone had just been through a huge ordeal. The plauge was not long over. It was in everyones memory. The death and suffering was very real and not yet healed. This was true for Suter and the towns people.

Frienihough was wanting to fight back. As were others. They were being carefull and making their plans. Suter's apperance accelerated it. They were lucky he arived when he did.

Bex was an interesting charater. We are not sure if he belived his drivel or not. At times I thought he was a complete lunatic and really thought he was an agent of satan and that Suter was an angel. Then there were moments when I thought Bex knew exactaly what he was doing. Even keeping his chief lutenient (I can't recal his name) guessing.

I feel bad for Shaeums. He was a pawn. He didn't want to die nor did he want to be involved. He was one of the weekest personalities in the book. I was hoping that he would man up and end up assiting Suter in the coup. But, I guess not. Not supringly he got what he got because he never took his own future in his hands.

At the end of the book I feel that Suter did see Helen. Not his dead ex but Helen that he saved. The women just didn't know that she had been in his room. That he saw her as his ex just went to show how sick and disoriented he was. Once again, I didn't ever consider that he was not sane. (Maybe the author had different ideas about this.)

Bottom line, I enjoyed this book. I paid for it. And I will be getting back to this author to see what else he has instore for me. As someone else put here very well... I missed the book when I was done reading it and thought about it for quite a bit.

Well, that's it. Much more than I expected to remember/type.

Would love to hear reaction to my thoughts and comments.

BOb

Richard Herley
03-02-2009, 04:55 AM
Thanks for all your comments. Jon and June, there will be no sequel to this; though my take on the story is that Suter and Helen, despite the age difference, will indeed end up together. Both of them are damaged, but their respective problems are complementary, so a healing partnership is on the cards. Not that I think Suter would fit in very well with people like Goddard!

Fledchen and ShortNCuddlyAm, he was never really serious about shooting all the villagers. He is essentially a civilized and peaceful guy. jj2me is right -- what worried him most, at first, was the prospect of losing his house. Most of his efforts were expended in making sure that didn't happen. Once the episode at the hospital was over, he was planning just to go home and leave the villagers to their fate. But underneath all this selfishness something else was at work: his social sense. That's what the book is about, the conflict we each feel between needing both personal freedom and a place in society. Hence his feelings for and about Muriel -- he was wracked by guilt for ignoring her plea.

lilac_jive, the book would have burned, and just as well, perhaps: it was time to make a fresh start.

=X= and BOb, one of the technical problems involved in writing a novel is to get the reader to identify with, or at least understand, the characters. The only way to do that is to provide background info, but this bogs down the action. It's a bit chicken-and-egg: action without background is uninteresting, but so is background without action. I tried to make the first chapter as arresting as possible and to make the reader sufficiently curious about Suter (and the whole set-up) that he/she would be able to accept the heavy background in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 was necessary because Bex is such an unusual and horrible creature that he needs careful explanation. Without that, the horror of what had befallen the village would have been less interesting to the reader in the chapters that follow. I was aware of this, and also the overloading of detail in Philip Davies's musings about the plague, but I hoped and thought the reader would forgive it. Plainly, in some cases, I was wrong!

And BOb, Bex really did go out of his mind at the end. That's what can happen when you start playing around with the occult -- look at the example of his loathsome hero, Aleister Crowley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley).

radius
03-03-2009, 03:59 PM
I'm late to the party, but just finished reading Refuge.

Unlike many other Mobileread denizens, I didn't find the sex, violence, or guns excessive at all. In fact, I found the descriptions, especially of violence, to be very mild considering what happened. In fact, I think the descriptions were almost methodical and studied (like Suter's character I suppose).

When I first started reading, I thought it would be another I Am Legend but I was pleasantly suprised as I read further. In fact, the book continued to do so (the "suprise and delight" beloved of marketers :)) as I read along.

For example, I thought I would be bored by the religious beliefs of the characters, but Mr. Herley put an excellent, new spin on the subject. Same again for the gay and rape themes. The only thing I found conventional or cliched was the protagonist as superhuman, action hero (in deed) but at least he was uncertain and afraid (in thought).

I was a little confused about exactly what Suter planned to do when he attempted to ambush the men following him away from the village (hear/see them trigger the tripwire, then what? he couldn't really snipe without long range rifle and good line of sight), but other than that I enjoyed the book much more than I expected to.

Edit: I felt incredibly sorry for Suter when he realized he would lose the safety of his house forever. Meeting the new Helen wouldn't come close to making up for it.