Tuesday, July 17, 2007

07.10 Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling



Dies The Fire (2004) by S. M. Stirling
Pbk, Roc Books, 573 p.


Thanks to a good friend of mine for getting me this trilogy for my birthday this year. Dies The Fire is the first novel in a post-apocalyptic series set in the Pacific Northwest of America. One day there is a bright flash centered over Nantucket. Instantly, there is a worldwide change (The Change) causing electricity, high gas pressures, and fast combustion to be all rendered useless. This means no cars, no guns, no steam engines, nothing. Essentially America is knocked back to medieval times.

Dies The Fire takes place during about the first year after the Change and focuses on 2 main characters and a number of people associated with them. Juniper Mackenzie is a seemingly flaky, Celtic style Wiccan who quickly realizes the import of the disaster and heads out of the city to her family farm in the hopes of meeting up with the rest of her coven. Her strength of character and force of personality draws an increasingly larger number of survivors to her. They model their community on a clan style group.

Mike Havel is a super competent ex-military guy who is flying some wealthy clients to their home in Idaho when the Change happens. The plane crashes and he has to help them escape the wilderness. There is a good scene where they finally make it out of the backwoods not knowing that society has collapsed. Immediately they encounter some nasty slavers who, of course, get their asses kicked. Mike forms a fairly large and powerful survivors group called the Bearkillers.

The author does a good job of showing how, at first, the vast majority of people don't believe that their world has really changed. They just wait for the authorities to come and rescue them and tell them what to do. It's only the people who think about the consequences (starvation, cannibalism, gang violence) and make plans that survive the first chaotic year.

The novel's premise and much of it's content are interesting and exciting. It's speculative fiction and I suspect the number of people who have pre-industrial skills is far fewer than the author makes out. He is obviously enamored with Celtic mythology and and wicca leading to extensive passages about the religion. Other than these quibbles though I quite enjoyed this book.

2 comments:

dsgran said...

Is this book related to "Islands in the Sea of Time" in some way? In that book (also by Stirling), Nantucket is engulfed by a strange fire and disappears from the modern world, only to reappear a few hundred years in the past.

I started reading it, but thought that it lost its way about 2/3 through and eventually just put it down. I also started reading stirling's "Conquistador" which I had to put down as well, because it had this sort of "South shall rise again" undertone to it, but i may have been reading into it.

Lantzvillager said...

Ohhh. Thanks for the heads up. I guess the book you are talking about is the first in a series as well.

The books I am reading are from what is called the Emberverse series and they are dealing with the effects of Nantucket leaving the world in the other series.

It's not made clear in the novel.