Monday, November 2, 2009

One Second After by William R Forstchen

Growing up as a teenager during the Cold War I read dozens of post-apocalyptic fiction novels, and I've never tired of them - be they about nuclear wars, man-made viruses, killer zombies... it doesn't matter. The fascination of how society survives, or doesn't, is the draw.

One Second After by William R Forstchen was fascinating to me. Despite all the end of the world books I've read, I've never believed in a prophecy of when the world will end, or stocked up a bunker just in case. I have, however, been concerned at our increasing dependence on computers and all things digital. When we lose power, we seem to lose everything - TV, phones, cell phones; all outside communication. After 2 weeks of such loss in 2003 and a week in 2008, I did get to wondering, what would we do if a terrorist found a way to knock this all out? How would be cope?

And here it is.... EMP's. Electro-magnetic pulses caused by nuclear warheads deployed above the earth's atmosphere & destroying all things electronic, including modern cars. The US is hit & how does society cope? Pretty much the same as all disasters: we're no longer trained to work the soil, to transport goods by horse & cart; to build form scratch & cope without medical supplies and our freezers. The storyline in this was, in my opinion, excellent. Well thought out with society & structure collapsing, trying to find ways to rebuild - as individuals and as a community, facing starvation as well as threats from outside. I've no doubt the author feels very strongly about this story & the possibility of this really happening, just as the authors of the Cold War era wanted to make us fear the worst. Unlike the man-made viruses and killer zombies, this is something that makes many of us sit up and think "Wow! Could this happen? When? What would I do?"

Where it falls short of being a great novel is in the writing. The characters are rather one dimensional and stereotypical, and the grammar starts to grate on one's nerves after the first 1/3 of the book. Yes, as others have said "would of" and "could of" became unbearable - and it wasn't just in speech but also in narration. How can an editor let that slide? William R. Forstchen: Fire your editor! It might seem petty but a great novel should flow, not be interrupted by such basic mistakes that pull you out of the story when you want to be thoroughly absorbed. For that, it loses a star. But for the story itself, it's great!

Follow up comment by the author to my Amazon review:
Thank you for the kind review and what I must say was an insightful observation. The properly edited edition of the book, which should have been the original release, is finally coming out the middle of November.


Bill Forstchen

I think a new edited edition will be well worth a another read. It is a good story, thought-provoking and frightening. With some good editing, I think it would be an even better read. And not long to wait until it's release in mid November!


  1. Excellent read. Being Canadian I wanted to see a mention of us, but then again... I can imagine.
    Maybe being a barnyard mechanic/junkyard engineer is not such a bad thing after all.

    Vote Yes to backyard chickens. (our idiotic council said no)

  2. Steve, always a Yes vote for backyard chickens from me!


    Wondering what's happening with this book... when I look at book description from my Kindle, it says the book is not available, but it clearly is for sale in the Kindle edition on Amazon. So I wonder if my old Kindle version has been removed and the new version is the more fully edited one promised?