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Impressions of One Second After by W. Forstchen July 10, 2009

Posted by frostwolftfirerose in Civilization Anonymous, Fiction.
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OK, I thought I would be doing the same sort of thing I did yesterday, but I’ve had a highly time-intensive task to perform.  Guh!

I just finished William Forstchen’s One Second After, last night.  Stayed up late to finish it.  Have to say this genre isn’t really a favorite of mine, but I found it gripping nonetheless.  To observe how the North Carolina town attempted to weather a storm post-EMP – well, I had to say I was nervous.  Of course in this genre of TEOTWAWKI literature, about the only one that includes a fluidly sexual perspective is Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing, which is perhaps my favorite of the genre as it also incorporates the multidimensional reality in which we all swim. 

I won’t compare the two, other than to say that as far as incorporating a gay/lesbian perspective IT CAN BE DONE AND IT HAS BEEN.  /soapbox.

That being said, the protag Matherson is quite sympathetic.  I did become engrossed in his story, and was sad when some of the other characters started dying off.  In this genre, that’s inevitable.  It helped me also to put into perspective an event that occurred several years ago–the East Coast blackout of 2002.  At the beginning of the time, it was disorienting, but there was a sublimely mystical but also celebratory energy afoot.  Like it was a taste of something delicious to come.  But also, I could feel it was a bit like the 7 of cups in the tarot–quite ungrounded.  I wanted the energy somehow to be earthed.

I got to at least meet my neighbors that lovely evening, and there was a fabulous full moon out as I recall.  The light of the night was fairly luminous.  At the time I was overweight and working overnight, and I was up while everyone else was asleep.  On that particular night, however, things were quite a bit different.  I did relish quite a bit.  There were signs for me, and actually Ben F. told me to read both The Tipping Point by M. Gladwell and Anne Rice’s Tales of the Body Thief, for some odd reason.  (I did read Gladwell–helpful in some respects though I think it was merely the title itself that was the message–and I have not as yet read the other. I think I might have the time and inclination soon.  I hear it’s funny.)

And I went to my home group of AA that morning and helped someone out who was having a meltdown.  Went to bed that morning, and got up the next afternoon, unable to work again that night, and I again hooked up with the fellow sufferer I had helped that morning, and found her better, and then I went about my day, wandering in the very dark streets of the East Village as night fell, and at around 8:15 or so the lights came back on downtown, and I burst into tears.  Totally unaware how much stress I was carrying.

Well, Forstchen’s book helped me become aware that if the blackout had gone on longer than another 24 hours, I’m not sure what would have happened in the City.  During an EMP, I would imagine people would panic actually.  Lots of death, lots of insanity, lots of violence, theft etc.  And then perhaps it would spread?  It made me wonder how my region would be affected.  Probably not so well, I would imagine.  In this way, S.M. Stirling’s book also diagrammed out the disintegration of the East Coast but it was more of a kiss off I felt.  Like, “these people are useless–let’s dispense with them for THIS fiction.”  (Oh, would it were there was a spec fiction book of pagan/gay-friendliness on the East Coast.  Guess that’s up to meeezles!)

The book sure felt gripping enough–I devoured it, but it was like Chinese food and doesn’t leave much of an afterthought.  Perhaps it will be more like an EMP blast itself–unfelt, but with an impact that arises later?  I’ll have to watch and wait.

Anyway, here I am, getting ready for the weekend.  I was hoping to write about many things, but alas time’s gotten away from me.  I had originally called this one “Multiple Streatms I”  But no.  It’s not multiple.  Perhaps next week.

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Comments»

1. Wm. Forstchen - July 11, 2009

Just wanted to thank you for your kind review and insightful observations. I know what you mean about the strange, at time surreal experience of the first night of a power failure. Whether urban or rural you suddenly are far more observant of the natural world, and yes, realize what is sacrificed for the sake of convenience, comfort, security, etc. But by the second or third night? I went through an 11 day power failure in the midwest after an ice storm, and though our local radio stations were up and running, with constant assurances of how much help was on the way from other regions. . .societally it did start to get dicey, and this was in a university town.

I do fear that complete breakdown, when realization sets in that the crisis is very long term, local societal and social systems begin to break apart, and worst of in contrast that even a Katrina size event is ultimately local, with help pouring in from a thousand miles away. In this scenario, no such luck.

As to the gay/lesbian perspective, I found it thought provoking that you mentioned it. Asheville NC has a rather large gay/lesbian community. Yes, and this in the South no less! Some of my conservative friends might flip on this point, but I think the gay community might stand a better survival chance. It tends to be better networked, more supportive of each other, better educated etc. As to false stereotypes regarding survival ability, a lesbian friend of mine can most definitely teach this conservative a few things about weapons and self defense! It is an interesting point worth pondering.

In closing, may I recommend “The Sun Kings,” by Clark. A fascinating 19th century history of solar astronomy. I mention it because I was only made aware of it after my book came out. Yet another thing to worry about “The Carrington Event,” which is a large solar flare that has an EMP by product that can be even more devastating than a military scenario.
I just thought it might be of interest to you and some of your readers.

Again, thank you for your kind review and comments.

Sincerely,

Bill Forstchen

frostwolftfirerose - July 13, 2009

Mr. Forstchen, I am deeply honored that you took time to reply to my blog entry about your book the other day. I don’t usually check my email over the weekend and happened to see that I had a comment to the blog and discovered that you had read my free-form, impressionistic post about your novel. I told my partner, who shared in my excitement!

Thanks also for your insights into gay/lesbian possibilities for survival. I remember reading a news article about an unlikely group of people who formed an ad hoc tribe in the French Quarter, holing up in a bar. One of the tribesmen was a gay man and evidently he was indispensible to the other members. There is a different quality to we gay and lesbian people that our culture needs, and ironically some of that energy expresses itself in tradition-mindedness.

There are quite a few gay men and lesbians returning to their youthful beginnings to honor and maintain older modes of being, whether it’s the gay couple who moves into a house that one or the other’s grandmother made a home in and lovingly restoring it to its former grandeur, or a lesbian carpenter/blacksmith opening up a shop for whatever the hometown might require.

I myself have had similar thoughts, especially if one factors in recovery groups that dot all the urban areas. I’m a member of two 12-Step fellowships, and a sometime drop-in on 2 more. I give gratitude for the camaraderie and affection I often experience “in the rooms.” I have of late, due to my own deeper explorations of spiritual practice, discovered a deep calm that others notice. For those who are tired of fearfulness and who are ready to open themselves to a life beyond False Evidence Appearing Real, I hope that a chance glance my way might pique their curiosity, at least enough to dispense with their judgments on my character due to the misinformation out there. Caesar said “divide and conquer” for a reason. Unify and strengthen is the nightmare of the psychopath.

And thanks also for the book recommendations. I’m curious to read them. Always so much to read.

Out of curiosity, how do you think a lesbian like the one you mentioned would have fared in Black Mountain? I think she’d be quite an asset.


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