Supervolcano: Things Fall Apart
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451465689
Date: 03 December 2013
List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The world won't end in a bang but a whimper. The devastating eruption of the Yellowstone volcano was a huge explosion, but it didn't end the world. The wealth of the U.S. has carried the country during the intervening years. Once the U.S. built to last. The consumer driven economy changed that. Everything that was built prior to that time has a limited life, and much of it is coming to the end of its life. The Ferguson family experiences the slide first hand.
Colin Ferguson and his wife Kelly are getting by in San Atanasio. Colin passes up the opportunity to be chief of police. He realized that he didn't have what it takes to run the department. He faces life as a celebrity for catching the Strangler, until a run in changes his life. Kelly continues her work studying the volcano and the aftermath. Both of them raise their daughter Deborah.
Louise Ferguson, Colin's ex-wife, is working at a drug store. She has a good thing there even as prices continue to rise. The weather and high prices change how Louise lives. Little things that she took for granted are now not so little. Her son Marshall continues to help care for James Henry.
Marshall continues to write stories. He makes a big sale and meets an old friend. That chance meeting changes the course of his life.
Rob Ferguson is still in Guilford, Maine. Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles are still playing gigs and getting by as their section of Maine becomes more and more isolated. Rob and Lindsey are doing well. The people who stay are adapting to the new reality. They enjoy the freedom that comes from coming from an area with little importance. When a big part of the Northeast grid goes down, they barely notice.
Vanessa isn't happy with her life. Well she does like Bronislav. The success that Marshall has prompts her to try her hand at writing. But it is harder than it looks. Vanessa doesn't have much follow through unless she feels jilted. Her carelessness will lead her to misery.
Bryce is getting by in Nebraska. He sees the first hand effects of the changing climate and the attempts to resettle the plains. When you have a highly specialized degree, sometimes you have to take what you can get.
This is the third book in the Supervolcano series. Although Turtledove does a nice job of describing the prior events, readers should start with the first two novels to follow the action. This series is different from what many people have come to expect from Turtledove as it is a modern alternate history. He maintains his standard multi-perspective story telling.
My strange confluence of the month was reading this tale of a new ice age shortly after reading Stephen Baxter's Iron Winter. In both novels, the coming of a new ice age causes great turmoil, strife, and loss of life. In this story, the surplus that the U.S. had is being burned through. The near economic collapse takes the land of plenty and makes it poor. I believe there is worse to come. It will be interesting to see how things devolve in Maelstrom.
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