Author: S. M. Stirling
Series: Emberverse #1, spin-off from the Nantucket series
Genre: Apocalyptic fiction
Reason for Reading: mrpet read and liked it, and the cover appealed to me.
Copyright Date: 2004
Cover: A man is walking down a road carrying a sword. There are two horses on the road behind him, along with an abandoned bicycle and rubber tire. A city is burning in the background, but he doesn't look. The tagline at the top reads, "What happens when the lights go out...for good?.
First line: "Michael Havel pulled his battered four-by-four into the employees' parking lot, locked up and swung his just-in-case gear out of the back, the strap of the pack over one shoulder and the gun case on the other."
Best part: I was pleasantly surprised that a whole group of surviving protagonists in this book is neopagan. It gave things an interesting flavor and a new perspective.
Worst part: Though it's clear he did a lot of research, I'm not sure Mr. Stirling has actually spent all that much time around pagans. A whole coven and nobody's gay? The midwife and the Wiccan herbalist can't suggest any contraceptive alternatives to the rapidly diminishing supply of condoms and birth control pills? I find both of those rather improbable.
Imaginary Theme Song: "We're Gonna Make It" by BB King and Irma Thomas
Recommended for: Anyone interested in a different take on apocalypi. Pagans who feel underrepresented in sci fi.
Related Reads: Psalm of Herod by Esther Friesner. Crystal Dragon and Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The Giver by Lois Lowry. Here be Dragons by John Ringo (more on that one in a moment).
Where will you be when the world loses power? Electricity has faltered. Gasoline is no longer explosive. Guns don't work anymore. Everything that we have taken for granted for the past hundred years is no longer true. Our modes of transportation and communication are out of commission, and most of us can't even grow our own food. What's next?
This book follows two protagonists as they build groups of followers that will help them survive the ongoing crisis. One, Mike Havel, is just who you'd expect in a book like this - ex-Military guy who knows how to survive in the wilderness and is an all-around badass. The other, Juniper McKenzie, single mom, witch, and folk singer, is what made the book really fascinating for me.
So, above I mentioned Here Be Dragons. That book was similar in some ways - re-enacting sorts become very important, their archaic skills are what help people survive. However, HBD had a lot of creepy gender role stuff, not to mention moralizing about what the author thinks it takes to survive.
I think this is a really good example of the genre. Grade of B.
ETA: This book inspired me to start thinking about emergency preparedness, so I am changing the grade to B+.