Thursday, September 22, 2011

Directive 51, by John Barnes

Directive 51, by John Barnes

The most interesting part about this book is that Directive 51 is real. Directive 51 states that in a catastrophic federal emergency the existing government can be suspended and replaced by “a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President.” Barnes takes this and spins a tale around a deed heinous enough to activate the directive, and then explores the aftermath, including a venal President and a civil war. The end-of-the-world scenario is original if ridiculously far-fetched—a nanotech plague that destroys electrical conductors and rubber, fusion bombs, and moon-based weapons—but the characters are largely cartoonish, falling into broad “good” or “evil” categories. An interesting story but not compelling; Stirling handles this sort of topic much better.

First Sentence:
All the days of the modern world begin at the International Date Line, in the middle of the Pacific.

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