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So I read One Second After over the past weekend and have to admit I was totally freaked out by it. I'd really like to know whether the US government is doing anything to address this issue -- a Google on "EMP hardened" or "EMP hardening" turns up a bunch of survivalist sites and not much else. I'd like to grab my local gov and police by the collar, wave this in their face and shout, "Have you thought about this?!?!?" but I suspect it would be counterproductive.

Returning to literary rather than emotional analysis, however, the book was very well-written (but the dogs! why must dogs always die? why???) and definitely gripping - I started it around 8pm and was up until 3am. I thought the juxtaposition of a Christian school having to turn into soldiers was an interesting choice.

Above all, it made me ponder how incredibly vital the mere fact of communication is, and how disorienting the lack of information can be in an emergency. Much of what happens in the book is not due to direct damage (very little is actually destroyed) but rather to indirect damage -- individuals are cut adrift from accustomed structures of law enforcement and society and therefore run wild. For example, if police can't communicate, they can't be called on at need, they can't enforce the law. If people don't know what's going on, they assume the worst and act accordingly.

At bottom, all that happens in the book is...the power goes out. This happens all the time (well, in my neighborhood it does, anyway). But it goes out everywhere, all at once, and in every conceivable place including car radios. Because so much of what we are/do/need relies on that one simple utility, when it happens nationwide things spiral out of control. Like scientists isolating a germ, the novel isolates a single taken-for-granted feature of our day-to-day lives -- electricity -- and explores what happens when that one thing is removed. It's engrossing and distinctly thought-provoking. Two thumbs up.

Oh, and your microwave is a Faraday cage so store a radio in there.

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ennyousai
Jul. 3rd, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
It is really, really scary to think about how our entire infrastructure is so incredibly fragile, and how its maintenance is pretty much dependent on a non-renewable resource. Also how quickly we've gotten away from being able to fit our basic needs through our own initiative (if the apocalypse happens tomorrow, I'm pretty much screwed). We're living in such a delicate state, and there are so many things that can go wrong. It's overwhelming.

Then again, there are plenty of other things that can screw us over. We've not divorced from the planet as a whole; nature can still wipe us out. We have no guarantees that Yellowstone isn't going to blow its top in the future, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

Or, y'know, the Vulcans might show up and save us all. That'd be awesome. ;)
delphipsmith
Jul. 4th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
Or, y'know, the Vulcans might show up and save us all. That'd be awesome.

Now there's a happy thought indeed :)
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