‘Swan Song’ by Robert R. McCammon: A Book Review

Inside her mind was the beauty of the world—what was left of it, that is. Everything had changed. The giant cornfields broke open, and missiles flew out of the ground. Submarines all over the ocean fired nuclear warheads, and not a country was untouched.

Robert R McCammon has achieved his masterpiece in the story of “Swan Song.” Only in an earlier work, called “Boy’s Life,” does he even come close to this horrifying novel showing what humanity is capable of doing to the planet.

This is one of the greatest novels ever written about what humanity can do to itself, and with our current president, the Trump, reality has realized the vision. If you read “The Stand” by Stephen King, you’ll be able to compare these novels and understand.

There’s a priest with all the evil powers that King’s Randall Flagg had, and as the sorry survivors scurry from ravaged place to place, he stalks them and adds sorrow to their radiation sickness.

A homeless woman called Sister travels with a group of tattered people, heading West after surviving the bomb that hit the center of New York City. Her mind, damaged by multiple hits of electroconvulsive therapy, was brought back to life by the fire in the sky.

The president, after giving the go ahead to destroy the planet, flies with his staff to an underground shelter called Earth House. A tour bus, also flying through the sky, changes his plans forever. He gets what he deserves.

Meanwhile, because of government budget cuts and the greed of politicians and businessmen, Earth House is destroyed by the blasts. Only a few of the maniacal soldiers survive and dig to the surface to look for the safety they thought they had.

You may think that I’ve overloaded you with spoilers, but that’s not the case. All I’ve told you is what takes place in the beginning of this saga of the inhumanity of our species and what we can do to the Earth.

Robert R. McCammon is a master of dark tales and has written many wonderful books. His versatility is amazing. McCammon has written a series of books about a rough gentleman named Matthew Corbett, who solves problems for people in extremely tough positions.

The Matthew Corbett stories take place in the 1600s through 1700, and one would believe that Robert J. McCammon had lived through those periods because of the depth of knowledge he brings to the tales. Six Corbett books have been written, and there are more to come.

In “Swan Song,” there are four groups of people: two groups are evil, and two groups are good. The four are travelling toward each other with different goals in mind.

Swan, a young girl with magical powers, travels with a giant former wrestler named Joshua Hutchins, who’s been tasked to “protect the girl.” They’re travelling west.

The dark priest is also travelling west. His goal is to destroy the magic glass carried by Sister. The glass lets her go “dreamwalking” so her group is protected. Their goal is to help heal the people.

Swan talks to plants and can bring them back to life. She’s a healer and helps bring Joshua’s soul back so he can heal other people. Joshua is a powerful man and is extremely versatile when it comes to defending the people he’s with.

The fourth group is an army of madmen who force people to become savage soldiers. They kill those who don’t agree with them. Their leaders are masked because they hide the animalistic power within them.

As I read this novel, I was deeply drawn to the story and how it relates to the world today. Most stores don’t carry this book anymore because it’s out of print; however, you can always find copies for reasonable prices on Amazon and Ebay. “Swan Song” is over 800 pages long and is one of those stories you want never to end.

The hard covers are fairly expensive but are illustrated by excellent artists. Subterranean Press just put out a beautiful hardback with a slip case, signed by the author and numbered. The book is in such demand that the limited edition by Subterranean Press sold out within one day.

People paid in advance for these books, which are scheduled to be released in October/November of this year. When they’re released, you will be able to find them on Ebay for about $200 a book, maybe more. It’s a wonderful book for someone who collects rare books, but the paperbacks are cheap enough for those of us who enjoy an exciting story. Grab one off the Internet; you won’t regret it.

 

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper’s poetry editor.

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