Thursday, November 19, 2015

So You Don't Want to Sleep Tonight?

While reading Ted Koppel's new non-fiction book, Lights Out, he mentions a novel I'd never heard about, One Second After, by Willam R. Forstchen.  Ted Koppel's book is scary - what would happen to the U.S. in the case of a cyberattack that knocks out our power grid?  Well, we'd be in big trouble because we're not prepared.  It's an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

But don't read it before bedtime.

Another book to skip at bedtime, One Second After, is a novel set in a small town in North Carolina.  Life is great.  Until an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) weapon is detonated, wiping out the electrical grid, computers, cars, cellphones, you name it.  How will our main character, college professor and retired military colonel, John Matherson, provide for his family, take care of his diabetic daughter, and help keep the town together?  Will food be rationed?  Should outsiders be allowed entry?  What do you do with looters?

The strength of the book is its smallness.  It's set in a college town with people who seem familiar - the doctor, the police chief, the college students Matherson teaches.  And suddenly everything that's normal - ice in your freezer, watching TV or listening to a radio, driving a car, air-conditioning, access to medicine - it's all gone.  Money becomes worthless - how do you buy something when the supermarket has nothing left?

One Second After isn't written especially well.  A lot of the writing is clunky and clumsy.  "Should of, would of" used over and over, that made me a little crazy.  You wonder if there was an editor for this book.  But I couldn't stop reading.  Who will survive?  And the bigger, more frightening fact - this could happen.  An EMP is real threat.  Are we set up to stop it?  And if we can't stop it, are we prepared for what to do next?

Yes, I highly recommend One Second After.  But like the Ted Koppel book, Lights Out, don't read it before you go to sleep.  Trust me.