“A Chemical Fire” by Brian Martinez

Somewhere in Lawn-Guy-Land, New York, there’s a man named Brian Martinez… a man who did a guest list for me… a man who wrote a book called “A Chemical Fire.” Two days ago, I read that book from cover-to-cover in one sitting – two hundred and fifty pages of a journey I’ll never forget, with a destination that I never could’ve seen coming.  I wasn’t alone on this journey.  I followed four of the most flawed, unlikable, dysfunctional characters I’ve ever read, who, through their own journey of learning to cooperate and eventually find the strengths in one another’s weaknesses, somehow also drew me into their circle and won me over with their dark, dirty, infected, oozy charisma.

A drug addict, a sexually deviant drug dealer, an anorexic attempted murderer, and a violent obsessive-compulsive set out across a post-apocalyptic wasteland where zombie-like burn victims spontaneously return from the dead with a hunger for flesh, and where nature itself seems to bend its own laws to try and repeatedly destroy the last four human beings scraping a living from the corpse of the old world.

Brian writes less about the world as it is, and more about the characters’ thoughts about the events around them.  We experience the world through the cracked, skewed lenses of our unstable protagonists, and we’re never sure if what we’re reading is real… or at least entirely accurate.  His writing style is poetic and temporally unhindered, with occasional dips into pure stream-of-consciousness.

At first, it was admittedly difficult for me to find my groove and set a steady pace in Brian’s writing, but once I found that pace, motivated largely by a need to know what the fuck was going on, I couldn’t stop reading.  There were times, in the beginning, when the actions and motivations of the characters didn’t seem realistic, but as I became more familiar with the characters themselves, it began to make sense.  By the time I reached the end, I’d both loved and hated the main characters, I’d gone from reading the book as a distraction to being so emotionally invested in the developing relationships of the characters that the eventual plot twist caused me to shut the book, laugh aloud, take a deep breath, and then dive back in, my tracing Brian’s careful preparations that had first slipped by unnoticed.

In short, stop wasting time reading about how much I enjoyed the book, and go buy “A Chemical Fire” and read it… now.  You won’t be sorry.  In fact I’m willing to give away an author-signed copy.  All you need to do is add both Brian Martinez and ThePostApoc on twitter, and tweet a link to the article you’re reading now, Brian’s site, or a place to purchase the book, and mention us both in the tweet.  Sometime between now and next Monday, I’ll pick one follower who has met the above criteria, at random, follow you on Twitter, and mail you a copy of “A Chemical Fire” signed by Mr. Martinez himself.

As for Brian, he’s got other irons in other chemical fires.  I asked him what his next project was, and he replied,

“The update I can give you is I’m working on a novella that should be done soon, not sure of the date but definitely for summer, called De-Partment. It’s a sci-fi story about an exterminator who works and lives in a warehouse. It’s not straight post-apocalyptic, but pretty close, and definitely dark.”

-Brian Martinez

To check out the cover for “De-Partment”, visit Brian’s home-base in Bloodstream City.

Until the time comes, Wastelanders.

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