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An excerpt from 'The Vault Apocalyptia'



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The Vault Apocalyptia: A Response from a Far-off Reader

Upon receiving a copy of Gary Brandt's 'The Vault Apocalyptia,' I knew there was one person—perhaps the only person?—who would really appreciate it, get in under Gary's dense and dancing prose and revel in it. Bill Saunders isn't just an ace decipherer of so-called difficult fiction; he absolutely thrives on the stuff. Saunders, a resident of New Haven, Conn., is an engineer-turned-freak who has the rare capacity and patience for sustained interactions with fiction from the likes of William Gass and Thomas Pynchon. Fiction that requires concentration and commitment over the long haul. As a former New Haven resident, I used to run into Bill at the local bookstore-cafe, head plunged into his latest difficult pleasure as he slogged back a dark coffee and cackled aloud at the insights and treasures unfolding from his latest intellectual mind-bender. I sent Bill a copy of Gary's book recently and he quickly—scarily—sent the below response to it, a reaction, really, that speaks to the singular science-mind of Saunders and his limitless capacity for engagement and enjoyment for prose that'll make your head spin like so many nuclear centrifuges.—Tom Gogola

Gentlemen: Someone from your offices recently dispatched to me (via post) a small package containing an Incendiary Device disguised as a First Novel.1

Quite frankly, I am shocked that a peace-nikky-named organization like

the Bohemian would be behind such a blatant propaganda scheme denouncing the virtues of "Free Energy."


'Terrorists already on a Watch List' 2

As the slow-seconds pass3, it is clear to me that I am either:

(a) the Intentional Target of something Singularly Sinister;

or (b) a Hapless Victim —A 'Mild-Mannered' Everyman Caught in the Fray;

or (c) the Mark of a Cruel Joke (but that is kind of like (a))

Q: Does it really, Matter?

A: You have really created an existential crisis for me!!!


I do hereby solemnly attest that I have thoroughly read all materials enclosed in an apparently vain attempt to diffuse this soon-to-be metastasizing situation. I swear that I've have sworn while puzzling through the countless codes enciphered and encrypted in this dense, dark and entertaining postmodern nuclear tour4-de-force (to no good-end, I might add); and finally, I will pray to 'A-God-That-I-Do-Not-Yet-Believe-In', if you will reply to me forthwith with some simple and possibly life-saving information . . .


A-MEN/HURRY (time is of the essence)5

oppenheimer, out

p.s. Not to point fingers, but I Blame Weird-Al Einstein, Szilard the Lizard and Terror Fermi. These Little Boys spent so much time a-wooing their 'Dream Baby', that as Fat Men . . . they've no energy left to keep 'the bitch' in-line. And if these Giants of Science can't free the 'City' from the Atrocity Exhibition6, where does that leave us as an Enduring Nation and Gentle Race?

Let me Teller a story about a man that tried to count to a billion but lost his place . . .7

Shit! Where was I . . .

Surely some eager young Rube will rise to save the day . . .

Enter Stage Left, Right on cue, one Ruben Boomerkoff, a Particulist, born with an extra gonad, fed from his father's feeble tit, an MIT graduate and collectible chapbook author of such renowned titles as Peace Is Hell and More Edible Spinoffs of the U.S. Weapons Program . . . this bomb-head with an uncontrollable hard-on really seemed to be on the verge of some necessary breakthrough before unexpectedly exploding on page 32.8

There are many outlandish theories about Ruben's mysterious demise—was Boomer's death caused by a gastrointestinal reaction of a steady diet of pork rinds and Pepsi . . . or was it just a quark of circumstance?9

Personally, I find these hypotheses to be as far-fetched as the moon landing.

Let's face it, the closest someone ever got to going supernova was when young Franklin Richards had his telepathic mind overstimulated by the vengeful Annihilus.10

Save that radioactive horseshit for the pulps, I say.

Circumstances always change with the next issue.

Let's relook at this problem using Occam's Razor—the Law of Parsimony, the simplest answer being generally considered the most likely solution.12

Applying this century-old method, I can only come to one conclusion regarding this Bold Theoretician's Untimely Death: Spontaneous Human Combustion.13

In fact, the answer was so obvious that these over-educated eggheads couldn't figure it out . . . But it happens sometimes . . . people just explode.14

Upon further reflection, it became clear to me that this Purportedly Scientific Publication15 has been bombarding me with nucular mis-information from the minute I looked at 'the flap.'

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Report, nothing but a bad song and dance routine.16

That struck me as strange, but riddle me this:

If so many of the scientists working in the 'Advanced Physics Department' at the Los Alamos Research Facility grew wombs and gave berth to a Nuclear Family, what happened to all of their little Bombinos?—the author really should have provided a proper historical footnote.17

The Letter-Writer's Counter-Proof (using hysterical anecdote):

A) I am a grandchild of "the bomb," "the bitch," whatever you want to call "it."

B) My grandfather was a Navy sailor in the South Pacific during the Big One.

C) Equatorially speaking, he played King Neptune in the Line-Crossing Ceremony.

H) He witnessed many tests while serving on the USS A.E. Newman in a Bikini.

X) My Grandfather didn't grow no freakin' womb—no f'n way—FUN-GOO!!!


(NOTE: When they fried Ethel Rosenberg twice as an atom-spy, that was about 'The Womb'.)19

It is lies like these that disgrace the honor of those who have sacrificed for our Great Country.20

If this boils down to a question of Manliness, Meat and Potatoes, what's with all the Eggs?21

That is to say, if no one is going make steak tartare, what's the Freaking Point???22

Whether a Scattering of Design, or just a Splattering of Luck,

If Certainty is the Ultimate Deterrent , We are Certainly Truly Fucked!24

Bombs Away,

Bobby Op

p.p.s. I will kindly thank you on Tuesday for saving my ass today. Meet me at 0.00 hrs in the snack bar25 for some irradiated milk and microwave weenies.

p.s.s.t. If this book doesn't self-destruct, can I get it autographed?26


1. The Vault Apocalyptia, written by Gary Brandt, copyright 2016, Stormy Day Books.

2. The Bohemian, future headline story by Tom Gogola, Special Uri Geller Edition

3. Russian Army Watch, Made in China, Yuri Gagarin 50th Anniversary Model

4. National Museum of Nucelar Science & History (formerly the National Atomic Museum), 601 Eubank Blvd., SE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87123

5. (or neither exist . . .)

6. Op. Cit., NAM, Pioneers of the Atom exhibit

7. Ibid., Decision to Drop exhibit

8. Op. cit., TVA, pgs. 12–32

9. Op. cit., NAM, Energy Encounter exhibit

10. Fantastic Four #141, (Dec. 1973), Marvel Comics11

11. Op. cit., NAM, Atomic Pop Culture exhibit

12. William of Ockham was a Friar, too.

13. Stranger than Science (1959), written by Frank Edwards, Lyle Stuart Publishing

14. Repo Man (1984), written and directed by Alex Cox; released by Relativity Media

15. Op. cit., TVA

16. Ibid., Uranium Cycle exhibit


18. The "proper historical footnote" remains Classified.

19. Op. cit., NAM, Secrets, Lies and Atomic Spies exhibit

20. Factoid: After witnessing the Destroying Angels, none of Newman's seamen sired sons

21. Op. cit., NAM, Temporary Exhibit Hall

22. Of course, it is possible that I might have missed something—I duly admit that a denseness of prosody and plethora of poetic license provided ample containment from some of the lingering truths at the core of this atom-aged riddle.23

23. Headscratchers like: "Why Do Most Super-Powers Prefer their Detente Over-Easy, or is the Yolk on Them?"

24. Op. cit., NAM, Radiation 101 exhibit

25. Op. cit., NAM, Ground Zero Cafe

26. Ibid. Please visit our gift shop.

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