Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dies the Fire, by S. M. Stirling

Dies the Fire, by S. M. Stirling

This is a story of what happens to our contemporary world when suddenly all electricity and explosives stop working. No guns, no engines, no radio, no freezers, no flashlights, nothing. Cars and elevators crash, airliners fall out of the sky, ships are adrift at sea. Armageddon and chaos rule the day, and without modern transportation the world immediately gets much much larger. The action here is all in the Pacific Northwest, an area with enough farmland and natural resources to support a medieval lifestyle yet a small enough population density to prevent overworking the land. While a fairly ridiculous concept, it works.

Two main groups of protagonists are followed; one led by an ex-special-forces woodsman and the other by a socialist environmentalist. While most of the book is fairly predictable (both heroes manage to surround themselves with people possessing just the right skills and thrive) there were a couple of unique bits. One interesting choice the author made was not to describe at all what happened in the bigger cities and metropolitan areas. Instead of some graphic depiction of Seattle or Los Angeles ripping itself to shreds without a food distribution system, medical care, or an armed police force, vague hints from passing survivors leave the horror entirely to the reader’s imagination. Another fun fact is that the cosmic event that causes the Change is the flip side of yet another trilogy by Stirling (which I read before starting this blog). In that saga the entire island of Nantucket is transported back in time to the Stone Age. In Dies the Fire, we hear news stories about Nantucket vanishing just before everything stops working. Being able to see both sides of the mysterious event was interesting.

Considering one of the main characters is a Wiccan, religion is amazingly not a major faction in this epic. With what many would consider the end-of-the-world occurring in the first chapter, I was (pleasantly) surprised to not encounter a strong religious theme. The witchcraft stuff is heavily stressed, but not really any other belief system. There is a Catholic priest we meet for a while, but his function is mostly to froth at the mouth against pagan beliefs, making the coven seem less ridiculous. As I generally find theology very pretentious and haughty, I didn’t mind at all—if I wanted a doctrine-heavy look at Armageddon, I’d have read more than the first book in the Left Behind series.

First Sentence:
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.


show_kie said...

you look like very interesting in reading. how much books that you've already read? can you post any interesting story to me for the next time?

Mike Lunt said...

If you like this, you would like one of the best "B" movies I've seen on this sort of theme. Trigger Effect:

It's on NetFlix, so enjoy.

Klobetime said...

Cool - I'll add Trigger Effect to my queue. Thanks!

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