Running from the Apocalypse   Leave a comment

Front Cover LAWKI no windowTransformation Project is moving forward.

In Life As We Knew It, I proposed that unidentified terrorists exploded suitcase nukes in 15 American cities, taking out the largest population centers. Thirty million people died in the initial attack and the small town of Emmaus, Kansas, was left to cope on its own.

In Objects in View, I continue the story.

Tom Clancy would have destroyed those cities and Jack Ryan would have rescued the survivors and caught the bad guys in a single book. Why do I take a series?

Apocalypses are not the end of the world. They are frequently the end of a civilization, but more often they are the transformation of a civilization.

There’s a passage in Ryzsard Kapuzcinski’s book, The Shadow of the Sun, which describes a scene from Somalia in the 1980s when the whole region around Ethiopia was suffering from drought and famine.

Hamed tells me that their poetry often recounts the drama and destruction of clans who, walking across the desert, were ultimately unable to reach a well. Such a tragic journey lasts days, even weeks. First, the sheep and goats perish. They can only go several days without water. “Then the children,” he says, adding nothing more. Neither the reactions of the mothers and fathers nor what the funerals are like. “Then the children,” he repeats, and again falls silent…”Then the women die,” he continues after a while. “Those who have survived cannot stop for long. If they were to stop after each death, they would never reach the well. One death would cause another, and then another. The clan would disappear somewhere along its route…The men and the camels live for a while still. The camel can survive without drinking for three weeks. And it can walk a long distance – five hundred kilometres or more. The whole way, the female will have a tiny bit of milk.” Those three weeks are the upper limit of life for the man and the camel, if they are all alone on the earth…They walk more and more slowly, with greater and greater effort, because the ground over which they are moving is aflame, there is heat everywhere, everything all around is blazing, burning – the stones, the sand, the air. “The man and the camel die together,” Hamed says. “It occurs when the man can no longer find milk – the camel’s udders are empty, dry and cracked. Usually, the nomad and the beast still have enough strength to drag themselves to a bit of shade…or where it seemed to the man that there was shade.

There are no choices, no heroes in that story. There is only relentless, inevitability death. It is a slow apocalypse and there are no miracle deux ex machina rescues. That’s real life and I am fascinated by ordinary human reactions to real life.

Objects in View Front CoverNever fear … there are ordinary heroes in Transformation Project who will do what needs to be done. They won’t save the world. They might not even save their entire community. But they will save a remnant and that remnant will continue into a world that will no longer resemble what existed before the apocalypse.

But first, they have to survive the disaster itself. After the nuclear rain passes, what happens? I focus on events in and around Emmaus with little bits of insight into the bigger picture.

  • When only the Designated Survivor is available to run the country, what does that look like?
  • With the chain of command stripped away, who really is in charge?
  • When looting cleans out important resources, where do you resupply?
  • Can you resupply?
  • Do you trust your neighbors?
  • Do you trust the government?
  • Do you turn your crops over on the promise that you won’t go hungry?
  • How do you power your generator when the electricity stays off for days rather than hours?
  • Do you have hope for the future when your world is spinning out of control?

Probably the biggest question can be found on the cover –

When you’re running away from the apocalypse, do you want to get stuck in traffic where Big Brother can find you?

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