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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling. New York: Roc (Penguin), 2004. ISBN: 0-451-45979-2

Post apocalypse novels are standard fare in science fiction, and my reaction towards them nowadays is usually fairly ho hum unless they are unusually good, or have some particularly unique feature to recommend them. In this case the attraction was the setting. Much of the story takes place in Oregon, in and around the Corvallis area, and a little of it in the Eola Hills between Salem and McMinnville, near where my brother lives. Without that aspect of the story, I probably wouldn't have bothered.

Otherwise, it's pretty average as such stories go. The reason for the apocalypse is never quite explained, but one day there is a blinding flash, and all technology stops working. Electricity no longer works, gunpowder won't ignite, and even steam won't raise enough pressure to perform any useful work. One can only surmise (along with some of the stories' characters) that some exceedingly advanced race of aliens with the power to literally change the laws of physics has come along and decided that humankind would be better off back in the medieval period technology wise.

Stirling does try to liven things up by having one of the main groups of survivors that he follows be Wiccans of a Celtic tradition. But the effort is only marginally successful, and one ends up thinking that a group of survivalists, or even Mennonites would have done just as nicely, and might have been more authentic.

While the book doesn't end with any kind of cliff-hanger, it does end with the major villain in the story untouched. So I wasn't surprised, after doing a bit of Google research, to learn that a sequel has already been published; The Protector's War came out in September. So I suppose I'll eventually have to get around to reading it, having invested this much time on the story. A Meeting at Corvallis, (a rather prosaic title) due out later this year, will conclude the inevitable trilogy.

Recommended for anyone looking for a good collapse of society story, especially with an Oregon setting.

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