I read a super thought-provoking book called One Second After, a fiction by William Forstchen, which got me thinking and has kind of stuck with me since I read it some months ago.
The story takes place in a small town in North Carolina, where suddenly, everything electrical stops working. The title of the book, One Second After, refers to the fact that, one second, all was normal, and the next second, life would never be the same.
It is not, at first, recognized that this will become the “new” normal, but as days go by, and new problems arise, the community realizes that this was an event of epic proportions. There is no way of knowing exactly what did happen, since there are no forms of communication that were not affected, but the main character, a former U.S. Army Colonel, is convinced that the United States has been the victim of an electro magnetic pulse (EMP) weapon.
The fact that there is no longer refrigeration is, in itself, a life threatening problem for anyone suffering from conditions that require their medications to be refrigerated, such as diabetics, and many of the residents of the local nursing home.
With no way to preserve foods, or even provide them, since most vehicles are now unusable, people are wondering how they are going to survive. The community tries to work together for the greater good, but there are complications. The freeway that runs through the town was filled with vehicles when they all suddenly stopped working. The people that drove those vehicles are making their way into the town to find sustenance, increasing the town’s population and problems.
For a society so deeply entrenched in technology as a way of life, this had a ripple effect that basically ends up as a survival-of-the-fittest tale.
The story is filled with challenges and small victories, struggles and tragedy. There are some surprises; like that vintage vehicles can still be made to work if fuel can be found for them. I like that the book makes me think about what I would do under the same circumstances.
The thing about it is that, apparently, the technology for such a weapon already exists and many experts claim that the premise of the book is not really fiction at all. If you check around the web, you will find comments such as this one by William B. Scott, coauthor of Space Wars: "A blood-chilling wake-up call that chaos and death are but a power plug away... Stock up on food, water, medicine, and batteries now. This horror could happen tomorrow".
Such an event would obviously throw us into utter chaos because all of our systems of commerce would become defunct immediately. Not to mention all the other niceties we have all become used to. Creature comforts would be in short supply.
If you enjoyed the movie 2012, watch for the movie, One Second After, which is now in production. You have to admit that it makes for an interesting plot for people to suddenly be thrown into hunter-gatherer and agricultural roles in the midst of concrete jungles and in households where playing with the Wii is as fit as we get.
I don't know what it is about apocalyptic tales that I find so fascinating, but another good one was Alas Babylon, about which I have also written a review.