Thursday, October 24, 2013

supervolcano series


SUPERVOLCANO SERIES

The “Supervolcano” series by Harry Turtledove is some of his better work, but alas and sadly it certainly isn’t post-apocalypse fiction.   I still think his “Guns Of The South” is one of the better time travel stories out there, but the follow-up book which was more alternate history didn’t measure up as well.  And some of his series are simply impossible to wade through.  So, certainly this new series isn’t as good as “Guns” but far better than others of his.  I just wish it was more PA instead of “a big disaster that marginally impacts us, making life more interesting than impossible”.  I wouldn’t even really call it a disaster book because the timeline is drawn out and there is nothing to be rescued from ( just small adversities to overcome which of course our heroic family always does- it is believable stuff, but only because it isn’t extraordinary in scope ).  In fact, if I were to sum up the series, it would be “allegory to the current economic collapse”.

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And I think this is where the story will remain successful.   You aren’t concerned with seeing how the volcanic effects turn out.  He keeps hinting about Very Big And Bad Things Could Happen Any Friggin Time but then later, usually about $18 later with the next book, he provides what the general reader would assume to be reasonable fix but what I call a bit pat.  What you are reading is a soothing fairy tale where adults can believe in a happy ending to economic troubles caused by forces that won’t get better but just constantly worse ( I don’t think this is a conscious attempt at the author to goose sales-he is successful that his name alone sells books, at least to the dweeb/sci-fi crowd ).  What better way to describe an economic collapse caused by oil decline than to equate it with a giant volcanic eruption that slowly strangles agriculture?  He avoids the naysayers on Peak Oil AND Global Warming.  My whole problem is that he glosses over effects.  Nothing is portrayed as badly as it should.

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Two years after the eruption, and everything looks like a mirror image of the 1970’s gas shortage/economic crash.  The total loss of crops and livestock is no problem because imports replace them ( if to a slightly lesser degree-just not enough to cause starvation or malnourishment ).  Even though Iran and Israel nuke each other at the eruption, gas is still getting through even if prices are way up.  Right there, those two examples, totally blows away any believability with his brave new world.  Then, as if that isn’t bad enough, everyone starts growing cold resistant crops.  Which would be okay, except you need more than heat to grow things, you need all those different spectrums of light that are blocked by atmospheric particles (  I need to look up the particulars of that one time- it’s what you are lacking in the deep of winter.  Brought up in “The Survival Greenhouse” ) after a volcano.  Bottom line, not recommended as PA.  But if you get it cheap enough, an enjoyable read.

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6 comments:

  1. LOCO GRINGOS AND AN APOCALYPSE Next chapter???

    Finish the book Lord Bison.

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    1. Remember, the battery needs replacing before I can use the inverter. Weekend writing is out right now.

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  2. Winter growing has a length of light issue. Not enough hours of light exposure per cycle to grow many things well or at all.

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  3. Big Sci-Fi authors seem to think the scientifically justified catastrophe novel is a sure thing. My guess is that they sell well on the front end, but can be a long term disaster in the long run.

    Walter Jon Williams' The Rift seems to fit nicely within this category.

    Turtledove's alt-history always struck me as a bunch of pabulum in any case: a mediocre big name author at best.

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    1. Turtledove is great occassionally, always best to check him out at the library first. I'll be trashing him in an upcoming article for "proving" the South fought for slavery.

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