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Sunday Book Reviews–Disaster Fiction

Sunday Book Reviews–Disaster Fiction

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Although it’s against the nature and sensibilities of academia to delve too deeply into the world of science fiction and fantasy because such imprecise stories don’t have any academic rigor, they still have much to offer. In the area of climate change, for example, there is now an entirely new genre of writing called cli-fi. How cool is that?

Fiction writing offers a few things that academic writing just can’t. Examples include:

  • Entertainment value
  • Timeliness
  • Unbounded imagination
  • Stories, plots, and heroes
  • Morality lessons

And the weird thing is, all of this can be provided on an underlying foundation of research–which is how all the best authors create their works. Our book reviews to this point admittedly have covered some pretty dry stuff–which is not to say they’re not valuable. They are. They’re more valuable than what will be presented here today. But the fact is, none of us can fully embrace a scenario in which we dedicate all of our free reading time to not-so-entertaining non-fiction that leans toward the depressing side, as the EDM field does. So here, for your consideration, are some of the top works of fiction that illustrate and examine EDM principles in both an educational and entertaining way.

Long live heroes! May you ultimately become one!

Book Recommendations

Seattle Quake 9.2

They knew it could happen – scientists had been warning them for years. Yet, nearly two million people living in the greater Seattle area went about their daily lives as usual. A Detective Agency thought they had found a missing woman, an upstart radio station was on the air, and an eccentric banker had just started a round of golf. Thousands were driving on freeways, shopping in malls, awaiting flights, working in downtown high-rises, and on buses in the bus tunnel. They knew — they just didn’t believe it could happen to them. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

The Yellowstone Conundrum

The Yellowstone Caldera, the most dangerous hot-spot on the surface of the earth, erupts with a series of 11.2 earthquakes and spews volcanic ash high into the atmosphere. Six hundred miles away a 9.45 quake under Puget Sound causes massive destruction to Seattle as a tsunami strikes and destroys most of the waterfront.

Follow army vet Ray Spaulding as he survives the crash of a WSDOT ferry in the tsunami, then manages to save, then lead a handful of everyday people who rally together to save the Seattle Public Library from destruction by gangs. University of Washington professor Denny Cain and student Karen Bagley vow to get out of Seattle, only to find themselves in a firefight as the local Seattle gangs attempt to claim the night. Skier Penny Armstrong fights her inner demons by skiing north toward Billings in an attempt to avoid the Death Cloud. Long-distance trucker Cameron Hedges is forced to step out of character as he first rescues Betsy Jamison, then convinces an entire town to move out of harm’s way. Robert and Nancy O’Brien, both up-and-coming managers within the Department of the Interior are separated by their jobs, then by the earthquake and explosion. The President of the United States must deal with his own Kobayoshi Maru, with a series of impossible lose-lose scenarios as the power grid in the United States collapses. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

The Day the Tide Kept Rising

This is a fictionalized, but thoroughly researched, account of the consequences of the melting of the Antarctic ice cap. A thrilling tale filled with action, adventure, intrigue and a pleasant pinch of romance the story is set primarily in Antarctica, Tasmania and on the east coast of Australia. The book follows the lives of four different people in their struggles to survive after a huge tsunami, caused by the massive Ross Shelf ice sheet sliding off Antarctica and into the Southern Ocean, sweeps across the Pacific. The tsunami leaves a trail of death and destruction after which the water levels of Earth’s oceans begin to rise rapidly causing cataclysmic disaster as well as massive political and social upheaval. As cities and nations are flooded the fabric of civilization is torn as groups and individuals struggle for survival in a terrifying new world. The three parallel story lines are exciting, predictive and thought provoking. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Grid Down

A small, northeastern town is crippled after a mysterious electromagnetic pulse causes a massive blackout, leaving residents stunned and unprepared. But the loss of power is only the beginning. Communications and mobility have been disabled with vehicles stopped dead in their tracks for miles. Grocery stores, banks, hospitals, and other services no longer function. Cell phones, computers, televisions, and radios are rendered inoperable. In the chaos that follows, one family embarks on a journey of survival in a vastly different world, changed within a flash.

Rob Parker owns a prepper shop in downtown Nyack, where he resides with his wife, Mila, and their two children. Following the strike, on the morning of September 12, 2016, he takes immediate action to hunker down in their bug-out cabin in the mountains along the Hudson River. Most of the town is clueless with little or no understanding of what has happened. But Rob knows that things will only get worse with emptied shelves, raided ATMs, no running water or sewage—a complete breakdown of law in order. He loads his bug-out vehicle, decades old and unaffected by the EMP, and sets out with Mila to their cabin. But there’s one major problem: their children are in New York City on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum—a journey into the abyss they have no choice but to take. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Sleeper Cell

When a wide network of sleeper cells are activated, America faces a new terror threat unlike anything it’s ever witnessed. At the height of the attacks, one FBI Agent finds himself in the middle of a race against time with an enemy hell-bent on his nation’s destruction. Special Agent Craig Davis has spent months pursuing and investigating sleeper cell leads, and his first major bust of a ring of foreign ISIS militants leads to a conspiracy beyond even his own grasp. The enemy is plotting and something major is in the works. Soon Craig and his FBI team discover that the intent of the ISIS sleeper cells is not to simply commit acts of terrorism, but to declare outright war upon the United States. Their enemy: the American people and their government. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

The Water Knife

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands.  But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Degrees of Survival

Drake Taylor, Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis within the Department of Homeland Security, watches helplessly as terrorists detonate devices in downtown Houston. A few days later, the scene is repeated in another city across the globe. In each case, the terrorists methodically avoid human casualties, providing advanced warning and sufficient time to evacuate. Taylor, the President, and the world as a whole are in a confused state of shock—baffled as to why the terrorists have so meticulously avoided human casualties, and horrified by what might come next. Just as Taylor and his team begin to get some leads on who they’re dealing with, the terrorists stun the world with a new threat and a set of demands that no one expected. In short, unless developed nations take specific actions to save themselves, then the terrorists will accelerate their destruction. They also make it clear that, for their next act, there will be no advance warning. Governments urge calm, but as the terrorists effectively take the world hostage, panic begets bedlam and paralyzing fear. Taylor and world leaders race to either capture the perpetrators, comply with their demands, or watch as civilization is dealt a crushing and debilitating blow. Degrees of Survival is a thoughtful thriller that stays with you long after you’ve raced your way through its final chapters. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

The Waters of Chaos

The Waters of Chaos is a science mystery tackling the greatest puzzle of all: How did human society evolve from the Ice Ages to today? In short, how did we get to be so smart? The Saga and the Quest take readers on an unconventional romp through science covering vast spans of time. The Waters of Chaos: The Ancient Saga, set at the end of the last Ice Age, brings to life a cast of heroic characters living in that long ago time and coping with the imminent global catastrophe of sea level rise. The Waters of Chaos: The Modern Quest follows twin brothers Jared and Rick Caisson as they search for evidence of a lost civilization beneath the sea, employing the most advanced technologies available. Both stories invoke Egyptian mythology and universal flood myths to connect science and lore. The modern book proposes new and radically different theories, while the ancient book illustrates how those theories may have worked in the real world. Check out the evidence, and you’ll find that almost all of it is true and convincing enough to challenge conventional wisdom. Meanwhile, the two brothers meet head-on the hidebound resistance of fellow scientists, and a close-knit clutch of youngsters grow to adulthood 10,700 years ago in a surprisingly advanced world facing certain disaster. Two youths fall in love and ultimately lead the exodus of their people from the flooded coast to refuge above. Mystery, high- and low-tech adventure, action, romance, sunken pyramids holding the Secrets of the Ages; The Waters of Chaos has them all. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Drought

“We all knew how bad the state of the West was, and it only seemed to get worse. It was known as the American Sahara, or Saharica, by those of us who stayed behind. The supplies I had were worth more than money, and others would surely try to fight me for it – or worse. That was always a possibility. When people are hungry or thirsty they get desperate. Regular people before the drought were one thing. They were your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers. After the drought things were different. People were different.”

Without water, homes and businesses dried up and blew away as fast as the ground beneath them, yet there were some who stayed in the West, despite the severe drought, and it was no easy life. For Ginny and her daughter Sarah, it’s as dangerous as it is dry, and making it from one day to the next is more than just survival – it takes careful planning and dealing with those who want the most precious thing of all – water. Can Ginny trust those around her? Or will they prove to be like everyone else – out for the very last drop of water she’s got? (courtesy of Amazon.com)

(note: EDM Digest does not endorse Amazon.com)

In Summary

Every one of these suggestions offers a valuable perspective on the field of emergency and disaster management. They were chosen because they are representative of an issue that our track record of reporting and posting has considered to be of great importance–including natural disasters (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis), technological and societal disasters (EMP, terrorism, infrastructure), and climate and resource related disasters (global warming, sea level rise, fresh water depletion). EACH IS ONLY ONE OF MANY WITHIN THE TOPIC AREA. So if you have a target interest, start with our suggestion and then find your own. If you find your own favorite quality work of fiction, please share it in a comment. That will enhance our overall mission of educating our served society with the multitude of EDM perspectives needed to make it all work. Thank you, be a hero to someone today, and happy reading!!

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Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.