Another go ’round with the Ferguson family, supervolcano survivors and utter literary ciphers.
Turtledove (The War That Came Early: Coup d'Etat, 2013, etc.) returns for a third installment of his Supervolcano series, which finds the Ferguson clan, along with the rest of society, struggling to recover from the massive eruption that has wreaked all manner of climatological and economic havoc on the once mighty United States of America. Turtledove alternates scenes featuring Colin Ferguson, a gruff, cynical cop, and various members of his extended family to provide a panoramic view of post-eruption life; career woes, rampant inflation, the inconveniences of severe weather, reduced technological resources and relationship drama are the order of the day. Given the semiapocalyptic nature of Turtledove’s setting, the dramatic stakes of his story remain curiously muted, if not outright absent. In fact, there is little story to speak of, as the narrative limps back and forth among its cast of bland, undeveloped characters dealing with the frustrations of power outages and the like. The lack of any sort of narrative momentum edges into perversity as the author pads his meandering tale with surreally protracted episodes of, say, a cat getting into painfully unfunny shenanigans or a geologist experimenting with a slide rule. Turtledove’s premise is intriguing, but the prose style is gratingly folksy, turgid and weirdly out of touch despite copious references to Internet and texting conventions.
A lifeless apocalyptic thriller/social drama.