The world is in ruins.
Extreme sub-zero temperatures suffocate the surface, making even simple survival an ordeal. Frozen derelicts of bygone eras span across massive ice wastes. And the elite few hoard any technology rediscovered within.
The only escape from the deadly climate is beneath the surface. But it’s another disaster underground. Monstrous machines lurk in the depths. Unhinged demigods war against them, dying over and over, treating it all like a game. The land itself shifts over time, more contraption than rock. And an ominous prophecy states that the key to everything waits at the last level - but nobody’s ever reached that far.
When an expedition into the far uncharted north goes terribly wrong, Keith Winterscar and his father get trapped together in a desperate fight for survival. Stumbling upon an ancient power struggle of titanic scale; the two will need to set their differences aside while they struggle against Gods, legends, and the grand secrets of the realm that lies below.
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Really interesting premise so far, I am extremely excited to see where this goes.
The first 12 chapters hint at a very rich world under everything, which to me usually means the author put some serious thought into worldbuilding and its consistency.
If the rest of the story contains the same quality as these first chapters, it will be an epic tale indeed!
Edit: Can confirm, quality continues to be fantastic, and the world building is simply amazing. The author really knows how to pace things well, managing to describe a rich world with few words.
Beat to beat, 12 Miles Below has a better understanding of what's fun, clever, and just plain cool than most stories of its ilk. I feel like I should be mad that the primary driving authorial intent seems to boil down to "okay, now wouldn't this be badass", but I'm not. Like most of its characters, 12 Miles Below is a right bastard that'll win you over with a cheeky grin, a few one-liners, and a dogged faith in humanity.
Here's the elevator pitch: in a pseudo-medieval society clinging to existence on frozen future Earth, strength and reliability is everything. Our hero, Keith, is set to inherit the power armour of one of the clan's best warriors—his shitty dad—but would much rather mess around with scavenged old-world tech. But when they end up lost underground, pitted against the GPT-gone-wrong killer AI's legion of deadly machines, father and son must finally come to an understanding if they're to make it home alive.
The paternal relationship that forms the story's emotional core is extremely rich, both characters undergoing redemption arcs in tandem. It made me go "huh, I should call my parents". This is where one of the story's big ideas mostly plays out: the idea that there are different kinds of intelligence, different kinds of strength, that seemingly incomprehensible behaviours might arise from incentives that just aren't obvious at a glance. Everyone in the story has their own unique perspective that meaningfully leads both to victories and losses; nobody is reduced to a strawman.
I'm not saying there's a ton of thematic depth here, but there's enough to elevate the work and create meaningful stakes. Really, this is just the kind of story that begs for you to have a bucket of popcorn nearby; I'd say it's a crime it hasn't been optioned for a glossy film adaptation, if not for the fact that it's about as close as you can get to that experience with text alone. The prose is workmanlike but extremely readable, with Keith's narration often being amusing in its own right. In Book 2, we get frequent interludes from a robot POV, which I personally loved; when the plot threads meet, you're very much rooting for both sides. I suspect that this story reads better archivally, as it benefits from an extremely fast pace (I blew through it in no time).
If you like winterworlds, post-apoc, and/or munchkinry, this'll scratch that itch. If you're interested in current AI, I think this story takes inspiration there for a very compelling portrayal. It hits the ground running from the very first chapter, so you certainly can't go wrong with reading a bit to see if it grabs you!
Anyone looking for a post-apocalyptic future story should absolutely give this one a go. It's got that perfect mix of calm and tension for a group of people trying to survive in a world that previous generations have made inhospitable to them.
The writing is clear and engaging, with enough personality that we have a clear idea of what kind of a person the narrator is, but not so much as to be distracting. I found myself sympathetic to his goals and actions even when he's being an idiot, and that's hard to do. If you're going to give it a go, read to the second chapter at least -- the first is kind of fluffy and unnecessary, but the second WILL hook you.
Grammar is perfectly serviceable. Not much to say about it. If there are egregious grammar or spelling errors, I didn't notice them. It reads perfectly well.
The story itself is a bit slow, but only because it's putting all its energy into developing the world and characters. As of chapter 7 (the latest chapter when I'm posting this), we don't know what the main plot of the story is yet, but boy do we have a lot of fascinating information about the characters, their world, and their politics. So far it's quite "slice of life but post-apocalyptic" and I LOVE that. The details of the scavenging priorities of this society, built on what their society is like and what tech they do and don't have access to, are particularly intriguing -- it's a very well-thought-out world. (I also love when characters are trying to conceive of our time based on the fragments they have left. There's this whole part there they find a painted interior wall at a scavenging site and are baffled by how much of a waste of paint it is and start speculating on where the owners could've gotten so much paint and why they'd wasted it on a wall, it's great.)
I am in love with these characters. Keith and Kidra have such little sibling/big sibling energy. These two and their relationship really carry the show and I would die for Kidra. Anyone who has a sibling will understand and love the MC and his sister immediately.
I got way too emotionally involved with this one. Man. Can't wait for the next unfolding of this plot. Sooooo much still to uncover.
Best action scenes ever!
Really cool characters!
Fascinating but creepy machines!
So many secrets still to uncover!
Do yourself a favor and read it already!
I'll start off saying MC is not likable in the beginning, he is a gambler that is loosing a lot but keeps tossing the dice, his only family are his sister who he actually loves and treats him well and his dad who also starts off pretty meh. No perfect lives here everyone struggling and has real problems world feels semi believable like the way I can believe 80% of iron man and am willing to blow over the 20% that science can't explain by saying it's awesome I don't care. Feels like frostpunk with the world being iced over and everyone needs to carry a personal heater but no steam punk here we get nano machines that no one understands how to build anymore and fly over space stations beaming down energy the local population views and benevolent gods 😂 yeah if you like that you'll love the story just that bit makes me want to read more but I'm already caught up.
after beta-reading all 10 chapters thus far, i can confidently say that this is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels i've read. the characters really shine - the cast is not huge, but between the three winterscars and small handful of secondary characters, i find them all delightfully intriguing and easy to invest myself in. in addition, the world is fantastically thought out. i love the hints that something is hidden in the ruins and out on the ice, and i'm painfully anticipating the moment that everything is revealed. The story steadily reveals details and lets people guess at what's coming over time. Not super common to read that kind of story where the world is just as interesting as the story.
Style is easy to read and straight to the point, Mark doesn't mince words and there's no purple prose here. When there is, it stands out all the more because of it's previous lack and makes things feel extra important. No grammar errors that I can see - I would have pointed them out as a beta reader :P
i can't recommend this story enough and i'm excited to see how the plot plays out. consider me a fan. :)
Having read the first 10 chapters I must say I really enjoyed discovering the universe that our main character and his crew live in: a frozen wasteland with some remnants of futuristic tech they can use but don't really understand.
The story leaves quite a few mysteries for the reader to wonder about, which no doubt our MC will ask for us as he's curious to the point he gets burnt (frozen?) for it. The surrounding cast seemed diverse and complex enough, especially the family unit. I'm eager to see what kind of other characters we'll encounter as various... surprising professions were mentioned. The setting pushes for a lot of tensions and survival through banditry so it's probably going to be a harsh story.
The style is good and flows well though it's a bit curt at times. The cold must be so freezing that the teeth clatter when telling the story I suppose! It makes the events quite riveting as the pace can get pretty fast.
The grammar was ok too, a few mistakes but nothing glaring.
Overall, I would recommend it, it seems to be rat-adjacent too with a MC who tries to exploit the system (available tech) and characters with well-defined goals.
It's too early for an advanced review. But 24 chapters in I could not be more happy that I found this work. Describing exactly what itch it scratches is hard for me but scratch it does! Post apocalyptic setting that still offers character growth and exposition that strongly resonates with the cultural problems of the modern day. I don't really know where this story is going for it's future, but I feel like our world's modern day almost makes it's beginning portion more prediction than fiction, and that makes all the fantastical elements hit harder.
Above average writing, which is pretty impressive considering the short upload schedule. Story feels a little like Dune, or Mortal Engines, and i mean that in the best way. Excited to see how the Dungeon and Gamelit tags effect the story.
Isn't anything TOO crazy yet but has a lot of potential depending on where the story goes from here.