Publisher: New York: Berkley Publishing Group
Review source: Library
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
A terrifying apocalyptic story!
Wow. Just, wow. It starts out like an action suspense with black ops swarming, but soon disintegrates into a terrifying nightmare. Varley caught hold of my imagination so well that I actually was outside in the "real" world running errands---and I realized I was wary about being out in the open. I was worrying that someone might leap out and attack!
I mean, duh, it was just a story. And one that affected my thinking in real life. The effect only lasted a few hours. Thank god. So be cautious as to whether you decide to pick this story up. If you are at all susceptible to worrying about catastrophic disasters, don't read this book.
This story just pulls you in and doesn't let you go. You can feel Dave's worry, how far his family has slipped away, and the fear that he's made the wrong choices. At least until the fires explode in the U.S. It's fascinating how disaster can both pull together and rip apart. In many respects, Dave is a lucky man.
I'm impressed by how mature Addison is in all this.
It's exciting and horrifying. I love the can-do attitude and the ingenuity. I hated the every-man-for-himself attitude, even as I understood it. Imagine how well your hometown could survive without food being delivered. How is your electricity produced? How is your water supply delivered? How would you get around without gas? What are your survival skills like? Gardening and small-lot farming will be the future. Meat will be what you can catch. And you have to protect it all from others who will want to step in and take it.
It's an interesting question: what do you talk about after civilization has crumbled? Today, we have friends we IM, email, online chat with. What if all that disappeared? Before we had radio or Victrolas, let alone iPods, people made their own music, danced, recited memorized bits from famous authors, performed amateur theatricals. Connected with each other on a personal level. An interaction that makes Dave realize how petty his former worries were as he discovers that now his days are full of real meaning.
Trolling for story ideas, Dave Marshall met a military advisor for the movies, who got drunk one morning. What he told and showed Dave has him scrambling, stockpiling food, weapons, gas. He doesn't care how big a debt he runs up...that particular bill is never coming due.
Neighborhoods become armed camps. For a short while. Then it turns into every man for himself.
Dave Marshall is a sitcom writer. Or, he was. It's been a bit since his Ants! hit and he's desperate for a new one. His wife Karen is so angry with him that she's close to demanding a divorce. Addison is their horse-mad daughter. Three people living in one house, but not with each other. Ranger is Addie's warmblood gelding.
Dave's former sitcom writing team
Jenna Donovan is coming up on thirty and still single; Dennis Rossi is hyperactive; Roger Weinburger is calm and quiet until he tosses out that line that has 'em rolling in the aisles; and, Bob Winston is the old man of the group. The others are desperate for a new show while Bob invested well and has retired. Now, he just wants to get his family and his fellow writers and their families out of LA. His wife is Emily and their kids, who made it to LA, include Teddy Winston, who reconnoiters on his motorbike; Mark is an engineer who has configured wood-burning engines and his wife Rachel with their twin daughters, Olivia and Sandra, and their Down Syndrome son, Solomon; Marian, former military, is the younger daughter with four-year-old Taylor and her husband Gordon; and Bob and Emily's other daughter, Lisa, is a doctor as is her husband Charles with their two kids, Elyse and Nigel.
Doheny neighborhood militia includes:
Richard Ferguson is a former CEO of an aeronautics firm and takes charge of the new militia. Fellow militia include Sam Crowley and his son Max, Marie O'Brien, Art Bertelstein, Peggy, and Petrelli, who wants to be the new king of the hill.
What's left of the LAPD is mapping the neighborhoods with militias. One less part of town they need to worry about.
The Overlords are a motorcycle gang terrorizing the inhabitants around the lake. Officer Lopez is the Winston-Marshall party's first official contact. Councilwoman Barbara Ortiz is inclined to accept them; Edgar Kovacs is a realtor; Melanie Gold is the chairperson; Pablo Martinez is a restaurateur, and Stewart Jankowitz is a blogger and 'Net designer amongst other trades. Harvey Wilkerson was the banker.
Mr. Henrikson is a steam enthusiast who helps bring back the steam trains.
Colonel Lionel Warner, USMC, ret., consults on military procedures and actions for the movies. He's been involved in some very hush-hush operations. Eddie Parker is brilliant and a scientist tasked with helping to squeeze even more oil out of the oilfields. Too bad they don't understand how much he hates Saudi Arabians for their contribution to 9/11.
The cover is something of a disaster itself with its thick layer of paint peeling away from a very rusty door. One with a handle just teasing you into...opening this book.
The title is not kidding. This is a Slow Apocalypse. One that you see coming, almost in slow motion. Don't be caught short.