Lewis’ (Brace for Impact, 2009, etc.) novel delivers a wake-up call about a near future in which oil has run out, climate change is inescapable, and a few brave souls fight for their lives.
In 2021, Americans are in mass denial about the realities of global fuel depletion and corporate greed, despite ubiquitous, ongoing environmental disasters. After a catastrophic hurricane strikes and military clashes over oil heat up, the crisis reaches its tipping point, and the country sinks into chaos. One intrepid group planned ahead and created a hidden fortress of survival, spearheaded by Brian, the dedicated son of the novel’s narrator, retired politician William Trent. With the society in shambles, most of the Trent family and a few other trusted compatriots hunker down in their self-sufficient farm complex and watch sporadic, increasingly dire news broadcasts until the reports finally stop completely. The survivors’ gravest suspicions are confirmed when they’re attacked by desperate bands of looters. Faced with the prospect of creating a whole new civilization, they confront the massive questions of what went wrong, how to prevent it from happening again, and who else might be out there. Written with consistent grace and a clear passion for its issues, Lewis’ novel is often absorbing, perhaps due to the fact that the subject matter seems scarily close at hand. The book’s driving political critique is a thorough takedown of corporate statehood, blind wastefulness and human greed. The narrator darkly reflects, “In the old world, I lived among people who had more luxury than any people in the history of the world. Like them, I did not know that after a while we would have to pay dearly for that luxury.” The novel’s action and contemplation give readers a nuanced representation of what could possibly be an impending reality. Although not all readers will be convinced by Lewis’ speculations, sci-fi fans and environmentally minded readers alike will likely appreciate the landscapes he creates.
A riveting, somewhat terrifying work of political speculative fiction.