Foreword Reviews

Radio Dark

In Shane Hinton’s post-apocalyptic novella Radio Dark, a horrifying epidemic creeps upon the known world, ending its normalcy in a flash and rendering people static.

The affected freeze in place—holding buckets of minnows, idling in their cars, or standing before grocery displays, unblinking. Bouncing balls roll into gutters and communications cease. In the immediate aftermath, government agents fan out, seeking to stymie the country’s collapse.

In Florida, an FCC agent connects with Memphis, a radio station worker. They work together with the station’s DJ to secure a radio signal and draw other survivors in.

The details of this new world are both gruesome and quiet, varying from a survivor’s infected and decaying hands, to the miasma of rot, to a cobbled together radio tower that is, in fact, a collection of assembled, frozen human beings stretching skyward.

As more people arrive, the tower grows “narrower and narrower … to a point with a single young woman in a thin brown dress.” At its edges, survivors subsist, and at their fringes, a cult lurks, sounding trumpet blasts and declaring that there’s holiness in the silence.

In these brief pages, survival is portrayed as rote—a matter of eating, copulating, disassociating, and mitigating all expectations and desires. Even among the active, no characters are named save Memphis. People are known by their roles and nothing else, and any assertion of vivacity or acknowledgement of individuality comes at too high a cost to consider.

The book’s images are as incisive as razors. It breaks open notions of human intimacy to examine their blood and bits, its gaze unflinching and its diagnosis less than promising. In the visceral and sharp novella Radio Dark, the end of the world is synonymous with the cessation of human hope.

Reviewed by Michelle Anne Schingler

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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