Thursday, May 7, 2009
One Second After by William Forstchen
Post-Apocalyptic Fiction is probably my favorite subgenre. From a world devastated by disease in Stephen King's The Stand to a much quieter and sedate running down of the world due to oil shortages in James L. Kunstler's The World Made by Hand to zombie-pocalypse in Monster Island and World War Z, I love a tale of catastrophe and rebuilding society under severe conditions. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is S.M. Stirling's novels of The Change (also called the Emberverse after the first book Dies the Fire) but William Forstchen's One Second After is right up there.
One Second After begins with a massive EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack on the United States that wipes out electronics across the country. It centers on the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina (coincidentally the site of my first library job) and how the lives of everyone in town are affected. It is mainly the story of John Matherson, local college professor and single dad, and his attempts to keep his family and the community at large alive. While the writing is at times clumsy, the novel is action-driven but also filled with small moments of humanity struggling to adapt to a world without electronics, refrigeration, agriculture, and dwindling resources. The survivors are forced to makle life and death decisions that have dramatic repercussions on their friends, neighbors, and family members. It is a brutal and unflinching chronicle of a dark future, like Alas, Babylon in theme and setting, but more like The Road in tone.
If you like end of the world scenarios and communities in crisis check out One Second After. But first you should really read Dies the Fire.