It's about an apocalypse. With jam in it.
I woke up one morning to find that the entire city had been covered in a three-foot layer of man-eating jam.
I didn't notice straight away.
novel by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
, with a twist, and even a couple of satirical
jabs at some of the apocalypse genre's recurring tropes.
Travis, an unemployed everyman
from Brisbane, wakes up one morning to discover that the city has been covered in a thick layer of a red, sticky substance that smells distinctly of strawberry, not too much unlike jam. The problem, however, is that the substance has one major characteristic that it doesn't share with jam: It likes to eat any organic thing it touches, and that unfortunately includes humans.
Travis and his friend Tim are forced to band together with a group of other survivors, and together they attempt to stay alive until rescue hopefully arrives, which is really tricky when you can't get down to street level without getting eaten.
- Action Survivor: Tim tries a little too hard to be this.
- After the End: Starts during the day the jam broke out, and the story runs over the week immediately after it.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Carnivorous jam in Brisbane (although it's implied to have covered all of Australia).
- Anyone Can Die: Every major character except Travis and Don dies. Deidre/Princess Ravenhair possibly survived, though the book ends before we can confirm that.
- Apocalypse How: Almost a Regional class 3, with only the part of the population above ground level surviving the initial event.
- Apocalyptic Log: Angela attempts to keep one. The battery for her camcorder ran out after day 1, but she felt it was too important to stop.
- Armies Are Evil: Played with. Y is a frighteningly-good soldier who willingly murders a lot of people whenever ordered to, and X goes to murderous lengths to conceal her and Y's part in the jampocalypse. Plus, the American Navy quarantines the entire country and fires upon those who try to escape. However, Y was a pretty moral person and obeying those orders caused him a lot of psychological grief; also, the quarantine thing was a big misunderstanding. Once they know the truth, the entire American Navy basically does a mass Heel-Face Turn by turning in their superiors.
- Ascended Extra: Don, one of the human characters in Croshaw's book Mogworld, is a main character.
- Break the Cutie: Poor woobieish Travis just can't catch a break what with everybody around him either dying, trying to murder him or shouting a lot. Also Dierdre when Lord Awesomo dies and Angela when she learns that the jampocalypse was a pointless accident.
- Brick Joke: Tim wildly theorises early on that the jam might be allergic to peanut butter. Dr Thorn refers to the anti-jam compound HEPL created by the nickname "Peanut Butter".
- Cassandra Truth: At one point, X says the Jam wasn't released as a deliberate attack. Angela believes her for all of five minutes. Turns out, Y left a sample on the roof of his and X's car and the container broke when they drove off.
- Chekhov's Gun: Mary. Also HEPL. And Y's trousers. In a darker and more literal sense, Dr. Thorn's sniper rifle.
- Creator Provincialism: Yahtzee lives in Brisbane.
- Deconstruction: Of the Apocalypse, or at least the popular Internet pastime of planning for such hypothetical events as the Zombie Apocalypse. As discussed here, one of the main points of the novel is that if the apocalypse were to occur, there's no guarantee that it would be caused by something pop culture has prepared you for.
- Depopulation Bomb: The jam obviously. It destroys everything organic but leaves most of the infrastructure intact.
- Determinator: Don will get his hard drive back if it's the last thing he ever does.
- Dude, Not Ironic: The central gag of the Bagmen living in a mall is that their group was founded by a bunch of Hipsters on some survivalist internet forum, who constantly misuse the term irony due to Memetic Mutation. Tim eventually calls them out on this while campaigning to become their new leader.
- Dysfunction Junction: Most character are either profoundly neurotic in some way, and the few who aren't are being dragged along.
- Everyman: Travis.
- Evil Versus Evil: The war between Lord Awesomo and the Hibatsu executives. With X and Y also thrown in as a third side, which is also basically evil.
- Face-Heel Turn: Tim.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Travis calls his huge tarantula "Mary".
- Foreshadowing: At one point Angela contemplates whether, if they were in a movie, the protagonist would be Tim or Don. She decides that if this truly is the apocalypse then Tim is the visionary hero, whereas if the Jam is localized Don is the Only Sane Man. It's localized, and Don survives while Tim perishes.
- Fun with Acronyms: X and Y mistake a misspelling of HELP for Human Extinction Protocol Libra.
- Godwin's Law: Whenever Tim compares a group of survivors to Nazi Germany, Don is quick to call him out on it, calling him a communist.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Surprisingly, everybody retains their sanity pretty well in the face of the jampocalypse, acclimatising well. Too well in Tim's case. He goes mad at the revelation that it isn't the real apocalypse.
- Government Conspiracy: Zig-zagged. It's clear from the start that X and Y know more than they admit to, and Angela is convinced that they're part of an American governmental conspiracy. They aren't, but the American government is covering up their colossal cock-up.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: X and Y.
- After first travelling with Tim, Don and Travis, Y cuts a deal with Hibatsu to suppress the mall survivor colony and kills many of them, as he was trying to fulfill his end of the bargain to protect and extract X, as they had means of communication to the outside. He did what he had to, even nearly killing the protagonists, but it obviously caused him major psychological grief After his death, it was revealed that, in a turn of corporate phrasing, it was just a sheet they had put on the side of their building.
- Hidden Depths: Pretty-much everyone except Travis and Don (who, weirdly, are then the only ones to survive.)
- Hipster: Lord Awesomo and his followers. They're ironically evil. Because not being evil is too mainstream. Saner (or rather less insane) characters make a point of telling them that people are actually dying and being murdered.
- Improvised Weapon: Y makes himself a bow-and-arrow out of some sticks and a pair of underpants. The Hipster Cult makes spears out of broomsticks and kitchen knives, and later a stun-gun out of a nerfgun with darts soaked in pepper spray, finally and an a flamethrower out of a barbecue starter, two peices of wood, and three cans of hairspray.
- Using things lying around their office, Hibatsu had jury rigged a full-scale catapult that used office hardware (printers, filing cabinets) as ammunition. They also made improvised bows, crossbows, and slingshots to shoot box cutter blades, glass, and sharpened DV Ds.
- Industrialized Evil: Hibatsu, who applied their corporate thinking to surviving the apocalypse, and are using cold pragmatism to bring what's left of Brisbane under their sway.
- Insane Troll Logic: X insists that, since she destroyed Y's ID card, he never had an ID card to begin with, because "if he did, there'd be a card. Since there isn't, we're done here".
- Semi-justified in that X is a government agent trying to cover it all up, but she's also a very Bad Liar. Insane Troll Logic is pretty much all she has.
- The plastic men formed an "ironic" cult around a guy named Crazy Bob. While they don't sincerely subscribe to a belief system, they do things like kill their members for minor crimes against Crazy Bob (eating his yogurt), and wage a hopeless assault in "ironic holy war" which expends dozens of lives. For a cult they're "ironically" following.
- Insistent Terminology: Angela is not a journalist, she is a journalism student.
- Irony: The inhabitants of the mall form a death cult based around irony, or at least what they understand to be irony. For instance, one of their leaders, Princess Ravenhair, is blonde.
- They also REALLY emphasize the word whenever they say it (pronounced "eye-RRRRRON-ic" according to Yahtzee's narration).
- Also, the jam was released as a direct result of HEPL trying to work out how they would save the day if ever the jam was released.
- Juggling Loaded Guns: Dr Thorn tries to use a sniper scope as a telescope. While the sniper rifle is still loaded.
- Just Following Orders: Y literally does nothing but follow orders. It's kinda scary.
- Kill the Cutie: Poor, poor Angela dies while trying to save her previously-Arch-Enemy X.
- Locked in a Freezer: Parodied when Travis and X get locked in a kitchen fridge. There's only just enough room for them both. And they're semi-naked at the time. And there's only enough air for a few minutes.
- MacGuffin: Don's build. It doesn't even survive in the end.
- Man Child: Travis.
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: X and Y accidentally release the jam by leaving it on the roof of their car.
- Mistaken for Murderer: HEPL did cause the xenocide of Australia, but it was through negligence rather than intention.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Both Hibatsu and the ironic cult of Crazy Bob take this approach to pretty-much every single problem they encounter.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Firing a flamethrower into a knickknack shop? Full of wood and accelerants? Really, Tim?
- No Name Given: X and Y (although it's eventually revealed that X's real name is Yolanda. X also lets slip that Y's real name begins with S, but that's all).
- Ocean Madness: After floating on a lifeboat for a while, Travis begins to talk to himself, and mis-attributes the replies to his spider.
- Oh, Crap: Too many times to count.
- Only Sane Man: Don believes himself to be this, and he may not be wrong.
- Tim also thinks of himself this way. He is very wrong.
- Red Goo: The Jam converts all organic matter it touches into more of itself. It's compared to the classic "Grey Goo eats everyone and covers the earth" scenario a few times.
- Religion of Evil: The ironic cult of Crazy Bob.
- Roof Hopping: The only way to get around without a boat or plastic bags.
- Running Gag: On a Meta level, Yatzee's habit of giving ThunderCats a Shout-Out.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The jam before it was unleashed on Brisbane.
- Stripped to the Bone: Frank, the first "on-camera" death, and a survivor who got washed off the deck of the Everlong. Then the jam happily eats the bones too, though those take a little longer to "digest".
- Shout-Out: Several to Mogworld, which may double as Continuity Nods since they seem to take place in the same universe.
- "I think that's a trebuchet."
- Half-Life: The jam was supplied (and possibly created) by a research facility in New Mexico.
- Possibly unintentional, but still: a female character who remains Only Known by Their Nickname throughout the majority of the story is revealed to be named Yolanda
- Naming the spider that Travis is talking to (and not getting a response from) Mary may have been a been a joke about Silent Hill.
- Super Soldier: Y. He easily takes on multiple opponents in situations where he is at a severe disadvantage, and can improvise weapons out of almost any materials at hand.
- Supporting Protagonist: Travis is the one character that rarely if ever does anything proactive. Angela notes that if this was a film, the main character would be either Tim or Don, depending on whether this was a world-wide apocalypse of just a localised one.
- Too Dumb to Live: Kathy reaches out to touch the jam coming through the window.
- Tsundere: Don.
- "I-it's not like I want you to come work with me, idiot!"
- The Unreveal: Who created the jam, Y's name (though it begins with an "S"), and Deirdre's fate.
- The Worm That Walks: The Jam is reffered to as a "swarm" by X and Dr Thorn.
- X Meets Y: This is basically post-apocalyptic fiction meets the children's game known as 'The Floor is Made of Lava'.
- You Keep Using That Word: As Tim points out, the cultists don't really know what irony is.
- To make things stupidly simple; they confuse "sarcasm" with "irony"; very common with hipsters.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Discussed. "Move into the mall and loot the shops" was the Hipster Cult's Zombie Contingency Plan, the back cover states "we... could have dealt with zombies", and Y is compared to a zombie when Lord Awesomeo shoots him.