by David Crawford
Cover Artist: Tony Mauro
Review by Mel Jacob
NAL Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451238078
Date: 06 November 2012 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In Collision Course, David Crawford’s second survivalist novel, two men respond in very different ways to the collapse of society. DJ Frost, a mall security officer and survivalist, has planned in detail for such an event. Town drunk, Gabe Horne, is at first unaware of the situation or how to deal with it. Eventually the two men meet with disastrous consequences. The descent of one and the rise of the other reveal how some people react to extreme situations.
DJ has left it a bit late when he puts his survival plan in action. Years ago he found a remote place and arranged to purchase the property with a group of others. He buried a cache of food and other tools for survival. Now with no power and water supplies in decline, he sets out on his journey to escape the mayhem and destruction descending on the city.
Five years ago Gabe's wife and son died in an accident. He blames himself for not being there to save them and retreated into bouts of drinking to blur the hurt of surviving. Now, a neighbor interferes and forces him to re-enter society. Once on the outs with the sheriff and most other folks, he becomes a default leader in helping his local neighborhood survive and keep troublemakers away.
DJ manages to get out of the city and begin his trek to his cache. He encounters some people, but tries to avoid most. Food and gas become precious commodities, especially gas. Gangs forage and attack anyone likely to have something they want. At first they take appliances, jewelry, and money. Soon, they turn to gas, food, and weapons with ammunition. Murder becomes common.
DJ too becomes desperate for gas. He loses his trailer and eventually his all terrain vehicle. At first he shoots in self-defense or to save others. Overtime, he grows more hard-edged and violent.
Crawford hints the cause of the collapse is because of high fuel prices, the housing bubble, the shrinking dollar, etc., ending in the worst economy since the Great Depression. In any event, industries came to a halt as did life generally. Murders and thefts rose. He gives no indication of what was happening worldwide, but only at a more local level. What DJ and Gabe see is all we know.
Once the reader accepts the starting premise, the rest follows. The reader is privy to DJ and Gabe's thoughts and feelings. The novel switches from one man to the other as it moves to the inevitable confrontation. An unnecessary epilogue ends the novel.
Survivalists made Crawford's first novel a great success. However, reviews were mixed. Negative ones criticized the characterizations and the writing.
Armageddon novels have a long and occasionally distinguished tradition including Pat Frank’s Alas Babylon, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and the Mad Max series. This isn’t among the best such novel, but Crawford does a reasonable job of showing how different personalities respond to an extreme crisis. Gabe takes on the Randy Bragg role from Alas Babylon of organizing his neighbors.