By and large, I avoid dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. When I want to wallow in misery, I just peer out the back window at my lawn. (When I want to wallow in other people’s misery, I go to a news website or pick up the most recent edition of the New York Times.) But I must admit to enjoying the Fire From the Sky dystopian series from N. C. Reed.
These novels focus on a group of families and associates struggling to survive and defend themselves after a Carrington-Event-like bombardment of the Earth by a massive solar flare. Among its other delights, the first of those novels presents cameos of the probable political consequences of the approach of the flare. I hope N. C. Reed won’t mind a lengthy excerpt from that book in illustration:
The President had an ice cream cone as his chief scientific adviser explained what was happening, and what it meant for the country and indeed the world.
“Skip to the part about how we stop it,” the President made a ‘hurry up’ motion with his hand, checking his watch. The stunned adviser looked around the room, despairing at the expectant looks on the other faces. Apparently, he wasn’t being clear enough.
“Sir, we can’t stop this,” he finally replied. “This is a force of nature, Mister President, with the power of more nuclear weapons than the entire world possesses at the moment. Combined. This storm is going to destroy this country and the rest of the modern nations in the world right along with it. We should be shutting down nuclear reactors right now and bringing ships to port if there’s time for them to reach it. We should be using every plane we can commandeer or seize to bring our people home as quickly as possible.”
“We can’t do that!”
“That would create a panic!”
“Obviously, a result of Climate Change!” (you could hear the capital letters)
“We’d never be able to hide that from the public!”
The arguments came from around the room and none of them were sensible. The adviser shook his head in disbelief as he tried to silence them.
“Listen, you have a lot more problems than hiding this from the public!” he shouted to be heard. “Do you understand? Every tablet, smart phone, hell that fancy watch you just checked on, sir, is going to stop working forever unless it’s properly shielded from this wave. The power grid is going to overload, and then collapse! Less than five percent of our grid is hardened against this kind of thing and Washington isn’t a part of it!”
“You mean to tell me that we can’t do anything about this?” the former community organizer asked, ice cream now forgotten. Finally.
“Just endure it,” the adviser sighed. “We have a little time thanks to NASA. Less thanks to you all ignoring their warnings for hours, but still, we have some time. There are a few things we can do that will help, but in the time we have, we can’t even protect one percent of anything in this country. The best we can do is try to gather the people we will need to help rebuild once the world resets and get them into protection, along with the equipment and resources they will need to try and get the nation on its knees again.”
“On its feet you mean,” the hapless Vice-President looked around the room grinning.
“No sir, I don’t,” the man shook his head, something he had done a great deal of this morning. “I mean its knees. As in up on its knees from having fallen flat on the floor. It will take years just to get back to the industrial revolution era of technology in any place that isn’t protected. The fifties at that.”
“The fifties weren’t so bad,” the Vice-President said. “Man, I had a-”
“The Eighteen fifties!” the adviser screamed loud enough to make one of the Secret Service agents raise up from his perch on the wall.
“That’s ridiculous!” the President snorted. “Sounds like some right wing, doomer propaganda to me!”
“Sir, I’m a registered Democrat and about as liberal as they get,” the adviser replied calmly. “And everything I’ve told you is fact, not fiction. Supported by NASA and by research scientists all over this nation, and the world. We are going to be reduced to plowing with mules if we don’t do something. Planes are going to fall out of the sky! Cars will stop wherever they are when the wave hits and they won’t start again. Everything will stop!”
He could tell by looking at them they didn’t believe it.
“Listen, it’s obvious this has you upset,” the Veep got to his feet and walked over to the adviser. “Only natural that you’d get some stuff mixed up and no one is blaming you. Just get with the egg-heads at NASA, get the information straightened out, and then get back to us, okay?” the Vice-President said calmly as he walked the adviser to the door. “We’ll be waiting to hear from you,” he said as he closed the door.
The adviser spent all of fifteen seconds staring at the door in wonder before he departed the White House.
He would not be coming back. He knew what was going to happen and he knew how little time there was. He had to get working to be prepared or he and his family wouldn’t survive.
He had tried to help the rest. Now it was time to help himself.
Sound like any politicians you’ve heard of, Gentle Reader?
This series features strikingly realistic preparations for disaster, intense military and paramilitary action, riveting familial and inter-familial dynamics, triumph, tragedy, and real, no-foolin’ heroism. Highly recommended.
I have also enjoyed this series. Reading post apocalyptic fiction often gives me good ideas about my own prepping by shining a spotlight on things in my SOPs that need updating.
One thing that really bothers me about most of the plots revolving around EMP and solar flares is how rarely they get it right. EMP is highly unlikely to be strong enough in more than just a few locations relatively close to the atmospheric detonation locations to completely disable all electronics, including vehicles and handhelds. Solar flares do not even have the high frequency components to their electromagnetic spectrum that affect electronics, their main effect is going to be on long line systems of the power grid.
This is all laid out in very plain but scientific terms in “Disaster Preparedness for EMP and Solar Storms” by Arthur T. Bradley, which is a great resource for understanding the technical details of what EMPs and solar storms are and how they affect things.
I also find that the genre is pretty hit and miss. It has been a hot seller on Amazon for about a decade and there are a lot of what I call “genre riders” (rhymes with writers) who have very little to no knowledge of survival skills, prepping, or even any sociological insight writing stuff with a post apocalyptic setting but otherwise indistinguishable from plots and stories in many other genres. Some of these are actually pretty decent but the majority are drivel.
If you want an A-Z instruction manual on all aspects of prepping for what is most certainly coming, I highly recommend the “Civil Defense Manual” by different authors depending upon their specialties, but collated by Jack Lawson, who lived in Rhodesia during its fight for independence and later survival. It is a two volume set, and costs $100, but if you know next to nothing about the difficult situations which might be brought about by any number of reasons, this set covers it well.
If you are into the sun and science ( a few NASA eggheads) look at the sun going Nova and watch the videos on https://suspicious0bservers.org/. The sun is a dominant force in every part of our life.
“There are enough problems in the world already; people are depressed enough. But you don’t need somebody to tell you it’s polluted outside, you can look out the window and see for yourself. You don’t need science fiction to tell you this.”
— Lester Del Rey, 1975
Darn, you, Fran!
It’s addictive, isn’t it? I’m in terrible fear that it’s stopped after “only” twelve volumes!
You get to feel as if you’re a part of the Sanders enclave after a while. In its folksy way, it’s an ornament to effective, immersive storytelling.