Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling

I don’t know how I missed out on this book. I have a friend who is always talking about post apocalyptic things and these books and finally I decided to try one. Because I do rather like that sort of thing. She said to start with this and it’s an extremely satisfying 500 page book. The premise is that a bright painful white light shoots across the earth at a particular moment in time and from that moment on nothing electrical works anymore. For that matter, gunpowder doesn’t work either, nor do batteries (and with that I feel you have to take a giant leap of faith–why on earth wouldn’t batteries work? or gunpowder? They are not technically electrical, now are they?) Imagine what this means at the moment of the Change–airplanes fall out of the sky, cars stop working, millions of people die, fires everywhere, mass chaos.

The story follows two bands of people as they struggle to not only survive, but also establish a society and fight off the truly evil people who come out of the woodwork.  I am beginning to think that all post apocalyptic writers think the worst of humankind. There are always evil people brutally murdering others just for the sake of being a powerful warlord.  There is a fair amount of fighting and violence and brutality in the novel, but it fits in logically. And right here I have to say to all the people who thought I didn’t like The Road because I didn’t “get it” or didn’t like the brutal violence of it, again NO. I hated it because I thought it was sh&*& and don’t like his writing style. I was totally fine with the grim violence and bleakness present in this novel. Because there was a great story! There were characters who fought with bravery and courage and compassion and you were definitely never sure if people would live or die, so it was all very exciting.  There were some interpersonal relationships that I frankly did not buy, but I’ll give that a pass.

The other interesting thing about this story is the huge part of it that is about Juniper (one of the leaders) being Wiccan and all of her coven and their faith in the Lord and Lady.  Also bizarre how they end up taking on being like a Scottish clan in the 1700s, which reminded me of Outlander (the world’s best book.)

You can’t help but read these books without thinking (sometimes obsessively) how you would handle such a Change.  I found myself wondering what marketable skills I have (I could cook, though I don’t know how to clean and dress dead animals), if we are far enough from a city to live (forget it if you live in a city, you will probably die within the first week unless you can get out on foot far and fast), and so on.  Really, I spent a lot of time imagining these various scenarios, complete with one unsettling survivalist dream (not quite a nightmare, whew.)

Can’t wait to read the next one and then I hear there are a bunch of spin off novels, too!


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