I forgot to review this book when I finished it, and Armed Canadian needed disaster ideas to a fiction project he is working on. Premise of his stuff: faster than light travel is developed just before a disaster wipes out 99% of life on earth. 1 million people escape, but 7 billion are left behind. Most of them die, but enough live to start over at a mush lower technological level
Now really, my Canadian friend… do you know who would be among the 1 million? The equivalent of east and west coast elites we have now. Sure they’d be a bit more international, but they’d definitely leave behind people from flyover country, ‘icky’ poor people from their own midst, and religious extremists that go to church twice a year (Easter and Christmas.) They’d probably omit people with ONLY a bachelor’s degree except they’d figure someone would have to run the sewage treatment plant.
Anyway, AC needed a disaster that would ALMOST wipe out all human life on the planet. The scenario in Lucifer’s Hammer was brought up by another commentor.
Lucifer’s Hammer, written in the mid-70s, is a book about a comet impact. The first half of the book is a story of “It’s not gonna hit, well maybe, nawwww, well don’t panic at any rate. Uh oh…” The comet is bad enough that the few astronauts orbitting in SkyLab can SEE the hot magma at the bottom of impact craters. Ocean impacts cause massive coastal flooding and days of salty rain. A few islands of civilization and technology on higher ground try to hold out against barbarism.
Speaking of the barbarism, the gun content… Criminals with army training and some discipline go a pillaging, Mongol horde style. Just without the horses. Since they loot and recruit, cult-like, they have a decent amount of weapons, some expertise in using them, and numbers to overwhelm most any resistance. Their tactics are simple, but effective. The former soldiers in the band of brigands run what heavy weapons there are, while the column quickly spreads out to both sides. Eventually they will reach the edges to the force opposing them and turn that flank. Very effective.
This is a book written in the 70’s. There is a lot of techno-worship AND technophobia. The savior for the good guys is their technology. There is even ONE guy. A single scientist, that can be pointed to as the messiah. All because of what he has in his head. And he only has a short time to spread that information. Because, without him, no one would think of mustard gas as a force equalizer against the horde-cult-brigands. A likely story. Sheesh.
There are intriguing survivalist storylines intertwined in the book. One main character, tipped off that the comet may impact, goes out and buys LOTS of multi-vitamins, pounds peppercorns, cases of booze, and spends all night cutting beef roasts into strips and drying the meat. Why the pepper and booze? Barter material!
When everything goes pear-shaped, another character is a postman that stops by a hippy commune. They are feeling smug because they think they are ready, planning to smoke dope and eat dandelion greens for the next 60 years. The postman puts a HUGE bummer on them by reminding them that rolling papers will soon be unavailable. Duuuuuuuude.. harshing their buzz! Of course, neither hippy nor postman (nor authors Niven or Pournelle) think about pipes. I’ve seen a stoner make a road apple into a smoking pipe, they are that resourceful when it comes to their doobage.
The typical socialism/fascism descends on the good-guys side, as it tends to in these fictional survival books when a community of good guys bands together. Everyone has to bend to the will of the dictator in charge of the place in order to have a hope of pulling together and through. Property is appropriated at will, folks are universally conscripted to work long hours for the good of the community, one charismatic leader is needed to bind everyone together. All to secure the blessing of Liberty and the Republic and all that. And don’t worry it won’t go bad and be tyrannical, later. Why do dire emergencies always have to lay the ground work for soul crushing totalitarianism? We need to get some fiction that runs counter to that tendency, just to be different. The Jericho series being a notable and refreshing exception to the “Fascism Right Now!” model. At least the first half of the first season.
All in all, that so many people survived the comet is the most unrealistic part of the book. They are successfully planting crops after the ground was inundated with salt water. It just seemed too soon after for the ground to be ready to grow plants again. And all that rain in California didn’t produce as many mudslides in the mountain valleys where the survivors huddled. The lowlands were underwater, and remained underwater after thing improved.
And things did improve, and quickly, which is odd. I would think the whole place would be like the Indonesian Tsunami times 10, but with more dead plants and MUD a week after the initial wave. Even superhuman effort couldn't bounce back from that without help and decades, and they had had neither after 1 year.
I don’t know if the scenario presented in the book will be enough for Armed Canadian. He needs a slightly less rosy picture, but not TOO bleak. He needs a tiny cadre of humans to come back from the brink of extinction and not be able to take up where society left off, technologically. Maybe regress 4000 years.
Hot and Boring - Typical Saturday - The air conditioning went Tango Uniform Thursday (it seemed to know that I have four days off and it's going to be warm) With temps in the upper 80's and hig...
2 hours ago