Is this a book about zombies?
The whole joke is that we are not dealing here with a horror film about brain teasers … Fort 72 tells the story of German, Belgian and American soldiers, i.e. enemies from the battlefield, trapped in a buried maze of fortifications, corridors, dark rooms. No windows or any possibility of communicating with anyone outside the fort. This is a small group, and it quickly becomes apparent that no nation has managed to outweigh any other nation in terms of numbers or resources. The guys are in more or less the same cesspool, so they announce a temporary ceasefire to jointly find a way out of the oppression, for example to dig a gate buried as a result of earth and debris bombardments.
If this is a horror film, it should be one of the contemporary ones, playing the psychology of an imprisoned, pressed to a wall rather than paranormal phenomena. From the first chapters you will encounter vivid descriptions of darkness that seems almost tangible to soldiers, hostile and dangerous. But maybe these are just dreams of a mind under extreme stress? The imprisoned will have to take care of survival, develop a joint plan of action, get along somehow despite three different languages and mutual hatred practiced in the trenches.
Agreement across divisions?
As you can imagine, the mood in Fort 72 is rather paranoid, and as he becomes imprisoned it worsens, as does the general health of all the unfortunates gathered there. How long will peace last? How quickly will darkness, boredom, and hunger cause monsters to be born in humans? Metaphorical? Monsters in the strict sense? Gołkowski explores these questions in all possible ways, allows the reader to listen to the conversations and enter the thoughts of his characters. He meticulously analyzes their slowly plunging into hopelessness and finally into madness. It shows how strong people come out of them, but also ordinary bastards.
Dla mnie jednym z bardziej zastanawiających wątków była historia czarnoskórych amerykańskich żołnierzy, do których reszta oddziału odnosiła się z wyraźnym rasizmem. Pierwszoosobowa narracja czasami stąpała po wąskiej granicy przyzwoitości (znacie to też z wewnętrznych monologów Saszki z Sybirpunka). Możliwe, że to po prostu sposób na wprowadzenie czytelnika w dyskomfort, skonfrontowanie go z epoką. A może nieco ryzykowny sposób na przemycenie realiów US Army do horroru. Jak zobaczycie w miarę czytania, silne emocje targające przedstawicielami tego narodu doprowadzą do niejednej skrajnej sytuacji.
Głód, zimno, wycieńczenie organizmu pozbawionego światła i witamin, do tego strach, paranoja, tropienie spisków i tajemnic. Fort 72 nie jest przyjemną książką, nie czyta się go łatwo. Także dlatego, że Gołkowski stawia tu na język prostszy i bardziej techniczny niż w książkach przywołanych przeze mnie na samym początku recenzji. Bardziej zależy mu na historycznej wiarygodności niż bawieniu się słowem i skojarzeniem.
Mroki Wielkiej Wojny
The Steel Rats series has its own chronology, regardless of the order of publication, and has leitmotifs running through the whole. At the same time, the volumes are relatively independent of each other. So you might consider the Fort 72 release as an opportunity to get to know the whole thing and start with it. In the text you will find references to direct your thoughts towards Königsberg . On one of the levels of the fortified prison, and perhaps the tomb of heroes, resides a huge machine with a mysterious destiny, but of great strategic importance. Who is curious about her should go back in time after this “zombie story” is closed. In turn, its chronological continuation is Błoto, the first book from this series published by Fabryka Słów. In it you will see how the Great War could unfold in a world where 1918 did not mark its end.
This series by Gołkowski is a kind of steampunk , only in the 20th century – maybe steelpunk ? After all, he devotes a lot of space to the development of technology. In this world, every crazy dream of engineers comes true even for a moment. Or mudpunk , because the trench mud creates not only a place of action, but also sets the mood and aesthetics. Maybe that’s why horror doesn’t need a zombie at all to be horrible and disgusting. Due to the accumulation of horrors combined with a realistic style, these books can be exhausting and depressing, you will not reach for them in the hope of a quiet evening of light reading.