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One Second After
William R. Forstchen
Narrated by Joe Barrett, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 13 hours, 30 minutes

One Second After
William R. Forstchen
William R. Forstchen was born in New Jersey in 1950. He was educated by Benedictine monks and graduated from Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He taught history for ten years and ran workshops on creative writing in Maine. In 1989 he returned to graduate school at Purdue University, where he gained an MA in European history. He is currently finishing a Ph.D, specializing in nineteenth-century American military history. His first novel, Ice Prophet, was published in 1983, and since then he has written many others. He has also written numerous short stories, fiction for young adults, science articles and a number of guest editorials, including a publication with the Chicago Tribune.

William R. Forstchen Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Honored Enemy

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

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Are you prepared for a natural disaster? What about a natural disaster that wipes out the fundamental way of life for the entire United States of America? We all like to say that we have learned something from the disasters created by hurricane Katrina or even the attacks of 9/11. But those disasters had something in common in that we could turn on the television or radio and find out information about the situation. We also knew that eventually help would arrive on the scene.

One Second After explores a form of attack on the U.S. that hits us in our soft underbelly -- our lives in the modern age of electronics. Most of the world, and perhaps especially the U.S., have come to rely on electronics for both our creature comforts and basic survival. The list of electronic devices, such as cars, computers, television, diabetic monitors, and pacemakers only begin a list that can go on forever. In this sobering scenario, these "amenities" are completely wiped out by an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) bomb.

It is not comforting to know that there is a weapon in existence today that can do this to electronic equipment. Electro-magnetic pulses were discovered in the early days of nuclear testing. The pulse was actually a side effect of a nuclear blast and early tests of nuclear weapons found that electronics were severely affected by these pulses, rendering electronic equipment useless. Today, the electronic circuitry in every-day devices is more complex and more susceptible to this type of attack.

In this cautionary tale, three nuclear missiles are detonated in the atmosphere above the United States and the county is rendered helpless. Every electronic device quits working. Basically, anything with a chip in it ceases to function.

This story follows the citizens of Black Mountain, North Carolina as they fight for survival in a situation that has turned the clocks back to medieval times. Once the power is out, the community must reform its thinking to a survival mode. No supplies will ever come in, no one knows what is going on outside of the city limits and only a small handful of cars will run. The town begins rationing food and medical supplies as the population dies off from disease and starvation. They then start to rebuild and try to survive with makeshift soup lines from the area's cattle farms and what little food can be hunted in the mountains.

Just when the town starts to level out from the deaths of those that would normally be treated at modern facilities, a horde of what used to be "gang-bangers" threaten the town. This gang is made up of the more violent dregs of society and they are cutting a swath of death and destruction as they loot towns to survive. The most vicious of crimes this group perpetrates is that of cannibalism.

Most of the issues explored in this book are told through the experiences of one family trying to survive. This creates a personal feel to the story and I was completely swallowed up by their exploits. The story even had me wondering, "What would I do?" and "How can I prepare myself?"

Joe Barrett delivers this audiobook with a great voice that easily makes you feel comfortable with its hometown storyteller quality. He also delivers the entire gamut of emotions that this story requires.

With the forward written by Newt Gingrich and the afterword written by Capt. Bill Sanders, USN, the reality of this situation really hits home. Not a matter of "if" but "when" it will happen. While this may seem like a science fiction tale of a post apocalypse world, it does have its basis in reality. Be careful listening to this audiobook -- you'll find yourself fully absorbed by the story and planning your survival at the same time.

Copyright © 2009 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.


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