Outpost by Adam Baker
They took the job to escape the world
They didn’t expect the world to end.
Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home.
But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands.
The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way…
Outpost is Adam Baker’s second published novel, and was published early April 2011. The thing about Outpost is that when you pick it up you probably already know it’s not going to be the best book you’ve ever read, but what it will be is a gripping page-turner that follows a host of intriguing characters that are forced together in a terrifying situation as they struggle to survive.
The crew of Kaskar Rampart are marooned in theArctic Ocean, waiting either to be rescued, or of finding some way to escape, as the rest of the world is taken over by a pandemic that leaves them slowly decaying, and the very fibre of their beings turning into metal, as they crave the flesh of anything living.
The main character is Jane, a reverend who has a hard time living in her own skin. She’s overweight, suicidal, with nothing whatsoever going for her. In all honesty, I couldn’t decide whether I liked her or not throughout most of the book. At times she was the glue that held the group together; she was forward-thinking, trying hard to be ‘the hero’ for once in her life. But this is also what irritated me, strangely enough. If she got it wrong and screwed up, and someone else had to bail her out, she just sulked in her room like a little girl, because someone else got all the glory instead. Jane also has to be the strangest example of a reverend I have ever witnessed. In some ways it’s ‘cool’ to think that the hero of the book is an overweight, ass-kicking, gun-shooting reverend. But it was also at times, a little hard to believe.
The other characters also have interesting traits – for example, a character known as Ghost, is a Sikh who grows marijuana in his spare time, to sell to those on board. These kinds of character traits certainly made for a fun read – bringing a little touch of humour to an otherwise gruesome story. You do end up rooting for these characters with each challenge that they face, you have to see them make it, or what else is there?
What I liked about Outpost is the way this novel doesn’t focus on people living in a big city, hiding from this deadly virus, and out-running those who have it. It centres on a small bunch of people marooned in the Arctic – with no chance of rescue as they face the stark reality of an approaching winter, where it is dark every day and night, where the ice freezes everything in its path, and where food is hard to come by. These Arctic conditions are sometimes more of a threat to these survivors than the virus itself! They are desperate to return to the world they once knew but what’s waiting for them when they get there? Is there anything to go back to? They have lost all radio contact and television broadcast signals and have little knowledge of what awaits them beyond theArctic Circle. You can’t help but question whether they would in fact, be better of staying right where they are?
So another end of the world apocalyptic story – you might say. And in short, I’m not sure if it will bring anything new to the table for people who frequently read this kind of genre. But for those who are perhaps picking it up, wanting something a little different to what they normally read, I personally think they would probably find themselves enjoying the ride! It’s very easy to compare this to the likes of The Passage by Justin Cronin, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, as well as films like Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and the recent television series The Walking Dead. But give this a chance – it’s a fun read that makes you think about kinds of choices people ultimately have to make when survival is the only thing that matters.
I should also say that a sequel is currently being written and should be out sometime next year – so don’t worry when you reach the end of the book and wonder what the hell happens to them – like I did!