Imagine what would happen if, following a sudden burst of blinding light, all of the electricity and explosives on the earth stopped working. Planes would fall out of the sky, cars would crash into each other, there would be no lights, and no working appliances. And, horror of all horrors, no computers either. Chaos.
This “what if” situation is the plot of S. M. Stirling’s postapocalyptic novel, Dies the Fire. He follows several groups of people including an ex-Marine Mike Havel, who leads an unlikely group of upper class athletes, engineers and Texas horse wranglers, and Juniper Mackenzie, a card-carrying Wiccan witch and her coven, through their trials and tribulations following “the change”.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a book if there weren’t an element of evil. Never mind that the world is having major difficulties and thousands of humans have died from starvation and disease. “The Protector”, a bona fide geek who has read too many books about medieval society, wants to take over the world and has released a group of former biker gang thugs to do his bidding. He fancies himself as the “Lord of All” and everyone else as his underlings and serfs. This causes havoc for Mike Havel’s gang and Clan Mackenzie.
I thought that the concept of this book was a good one. The postapocalyptic genre is alive and well in the sci-fi department and Stirling did his research. However, I had one major contention.
Stirling’s obsession with all things Wiccan overtook this book in many ways. I personally don’t care what religion he is and I don’t believe that it should have made a difference. However, if Stirling had been Christian instead and had put as many elements and passages about that faith in his writing, “Dies the Fire” would have had an “Inspirational” label slapped on it just as fast as you can say “feudalism”. To be fair, he did include a Bible thumping minister as one of his characters, but apparently the reverend became just too annoying and he killed him off. So much for freedom of religion.
So, what will happen to those left in a world without electricity, where guns and ammo don’t work and your best friend is your sword? Will there be enough food for winter? Will there be peace on earth? We’re only left with questions at the end of “Dies the Fire”. Guess I’ll have to read the next book in the series, “The Protector’s War” and find out. In the meantime, I’ll have to be more appreciative of my lights and appliances. And, of course, my computer.