January 1, 2014 at 7:15 am #1141
This is the unabridged edition.
@Publisher Summary wrote:
In a small North Carolina town, one man struggles to save his family after America loses a war that will send it back to the Dark Ages.
Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon – the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) – which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States, literally within one second.
This book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future and our end.
©2009 William R. Forstchen; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Speculative fiction is a part of science fiction. Unlike the science fiction that we are used to in Star Trek or Babylon 5, speculative fiction takes what we consider the everyday, and applies the what if factor. One example is Alas Babylon where a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States. That book was written in 1959. (I haven’t read or listened to the book yet)
In One Second After, we are dealt with a nuclear attack of a different sort: an Electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon exploding in the upper atmosphere. Unlike the world of 1959, our solid state society is depending on the microprocessors, and those are fried by the EMP, throwing everyone back in the stone age. The story is set in the community of Black Mountain, NC, a suburb of Asheville, NC. The protagonist, John Matherson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel turned history professor at a local college and a widow, deals with the issues of both his family (a parent in the nursing home and a type 1 diabetic) as well as being pressed into duty for the local community government for his expertise. Each chapter is a snapshot of the days events, and the logistics as conditions deteriorate.January 1, 2014 at 8:27 pm #6246
Sounds like a good one.
The thought of all electronic devices failing is horrifying and would be detrimental to our society. Hell, when our cable (and cable modem) go out for longer than five minutes my kids (and I) start climbing the walls. The last time we lost power for a couple of hours I prayed for death.
Would an EMP attack like that take out all cars and/or gas pumps as well?January 2, 2014 at 12:45 am #6247
Earl’s previous regenerationSpectator
Let’s see… computerized fuel injection… yep.
All but old strictly mechanical fuel pumps (think of the ones with analog displays with number wheels) would probably be toast, unless I’m way off base there.January 2, 2014 at 8:06 am #6248
One of the plot points was that the mother-in-law was driving an old Edsel which still worked fine and had an old tube radio, while the protagonist’s SUV was completely dead.
After completing this book this morning, I think the author made things more dire and more Mad Max than they ought to be to emphasize the point. If necessary, electronic control systems can be bypassed to make things run again. It won’t be as efficient, you won’t have precise control, and it will require more work, but it’ll run. I’m also surprised they didn’t utilize goats in a pinch. They tend to make good lawn mowers, and provide milk. Still, I found myself double-checking my emergency kit as a result of this book.January 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm #6249
I guess if you are lucky enough to own a car that still runs after an EMP event, you had better get good at siphoning gas, assuming gas pumps stop working. Also you had better be good at car maintenance, as running cars would probably become pretty valuable property.
I’m embarrassed to say that I know very little about outdoor survival. If we lose the internet and all electronics you might as well shoot me in the head. I don’t know how to start a fire, build a shelter, navigate using the north star or anything of that nature. If our microwave and refrigerator die I have approximately 12 hours to live.January 4, 2014 at 1:33 am #6250
Earl’s previous regenerationSpectator
First order or business: find a way to attract the attention of someone who’s better at surviving than you are.
Of course, that might also attract a predator capable of killing and eating you.
Either way, your troubles are almost over.January 4, 2014 at 5:26 am #6251
I have a two-part survival plan. Stage one is getting to my dad’s house. My dad has street smarts, survival skills, trucks, and guns. My dad lives ~10 mins away so that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Stage two involves getting to my uncle’s place. My uncle lives 4 hours away. In something like a “Red Dawn” or zombie outbreak, we should be able to get there. In the event of an EMP or nuclear attack, it would be much more difficult obviously. My uncle lives in southeast Oklahoma on 600+ acres. He can (and does) live off of deer he kills. He knows the difference between squirrel and possum pie. Hell, if it weren’t for Facebook, he might not even KNOW there had been a war. He could live forever down there off the land and so that is where I would want to be, although like I said depending on the circumstances it could be difficult to get there.
Left to my own survival skills, yeah. They would just find me curled up under the couch, crying and holding my iPad.January 4, 2014 at 6:15 am #6252
My uncle lives in southeast Oklahoma on 600+ acres. He can (and does) live off of deer he kills. …. He could live forever down there off the land
As we learned from the TV show Jericho, once civilization breaks down pretty much everybody will ‘live off the land’, meaning they’ll wipe out all game animals out of the woods. When people starve, they’ll eat anything that scurries. I wouldn’t rely on that plan.
I don’t believe in zombie attacks (scientifically impossible) or EMP attacks (pretty much science fiction), what’s more likely is an asteroid strike or the Yellowstone caldera becoming a super volcano, in both instances we’d end up with a clouded atmosphere filled with ash that would block out sunlight, killing plant life off which would kill all other life off once the bottom of the food chain is removed. It might take a century for the atmosphere to clear. Here’s my scenario, completely unobtainable to me due to me not having millions of dollars to do it with. I’d buy a de-commisioned underground nuclear launcher missile silo. They’re usually built with good shock absorption that will geologically result from an asteroid strike or a massive volcanic eruption on the continent. Plus, they usually have deep water wells and air filters so troops can stay underground for years if need be. I would start a survivalist internet business, selling things one might need in case of “zombie attack” or other goofy crap that survivalist wackos think will happen. I’d specialize in MREs, Meals Ready to Eat. They’re designed for maximum shelf life without expiring. I’d keep the warehouse for my business on my property, so once shit starts hitting fans I can just dump everything into the silo and lock myself in (I’d probably want to camoflage the entrances for safety, Hogan’s Heroes-style). All this seems like a lot of effort to go through on the wafer-thin possibility that any of this will actually happen in my lifetime. But what the hell, there’s nothing wrong with having a game plan.January 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm #6253
@Steve W wrote:
I don’t believe in zombie attacks (scientifically impossible) or EMP attacks (pretty much science fiction)
I disagree with you, Steve. While zombies — as defined as the dead coming back to life and reanimating — is scientifically impossible, zombie-like actions is quite possible through the use of drugs and chemicals. Check the dictionary definition of Delirious sometime, and look at how funny people act when sleep deprived, had too much to drink, or on a drug high. Even some prescription medication warn of mind-altering effects.
EMPs being science fiction? See http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has280010.000/has280010_0.HTM, and that was in 1999. I consider it a real, if somewhat remote, possibility.
Part of the threats is that we live in a Just-In-Time economy, with little stockpiles. We are dependent on the logistics of airplanes, trucks, and railways to deliver what we use everyday. In addition, we are dependent on radio, television, and Internet to find out what is going on. Turn those off, and you get wild rumors.January 19, 2014 at 11:27 am #6254
For whatever it’s worth, as a result of this book, I have been slowly been stocking up on stuff to carry around in my car “just in case”.January 20, 2014 at 6:03 am #6255
You can always build yourself a Faraday Cage if you want to protect yourself from electromagnetic pulses. Keep all your electronics inside. Or better yet, embed a Faraday Cage in the walls, door, and floor of your room. Then, after an EMP attack, you’d have the only working computer around. Other than maybe members of the CIA, who have their computers “hardened” against electromagnetic interference. I read about one guy many years back who had gotten second-hand a formerly government duty Macintosh, one of the earliest models, that had a Faraday Cage built inside the casing.January 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm #6256
I don’t think that is necessary. But, I am carrying a first aid kit, blanket, hand crank radio, extra batteries, flashlight, gloves, towels, tissues, toilet paper, and glass cleaner now in my car. Just in case.
Of course, in case of the zombie apocalypse, I’m screwed.January 20, 2014 at 9:43 pm #6257
I always take any claims on the effects of an EMP event with a grain of salt. Mostly because those who claim it would be the end of the world (or the United States) tend to have Survivalist or doomsday agendas. Upon closer inspection those sites tend to be full of crackpots who are more interested in spilling their vitriol upon the world than really trying to address the problems a potential EMP event might create.
Will such a event end the world? No. Will it wipe out the entire electrical infrastructure of the United States? No. Will every electronic device in the United States (or the world) be destroyed? No. Will electronic devices that are turned off work when the ones that are on fail? There is no evidence to support or deny that claim.
Here’s what is likely to happen: Any long power transmission line will be impacted and is likely to overload power transformers and shut them down – possibly start fires.Telephone wires will do the same. So a big chunk of our electrical grid will shutdown but not all of it, I’m sure. They have guys and computers monitoring the electrical grid all the time so if such a event occurred they will attempt to manage the problem. They are likely to fail, especially if their computers go down, but I think they will make a valiant effort and mitigate the damage. It all depends on how much voltage is induced in those power lines, which normally carry 100-300 thousand volts. If it induces only 10KV or so than the impact will be minimal. If it induces something in the millions of volts, then, yes, lots of damages, lots of fires, etc.
The rule of thumb is, the longer the electrical wire, the more current and voltage induced. So, if you happen to be leaning against a chain-link fence when an EMP occurs, you’re gonna get fried. Electrocuted by the cord that connects your ear buds to your iPhone? Maybe but I doubt it. The voltage from that is more likely to zap your iPhone and give you a tingly feeling in your ear.
The further away from the bomb the less the impact. So, using the scenario envisioned in Cameron’s “Dark Angel” series of a single bomb over Kansas, the Midwest will suffer the brunt of the damage while the coastal regions will be mostly intact.
Don’t forget local effects that will minimize damage. I live in the shadow of a mountain and I don’t see the sun until an hour after sunrise. As a result, my electronics are likely to survive an EMP event. I still will lose power since ABQ is supplied by long wires from the NW corner of the state.
A lot of electronic gear is inside metal cases so they are more likely to survive than predicted. Portable devices like phones and tablets, not so much. Poor kids, they’ll have to get their Internet fix from their parents old PC.
Lots of cold war research has been done to see what effect EMP will have on electronics. Unfortunately that research was done by the government (both foreign and domestic) and they are not talking. So, the problem is, no one really knows what the actual effects are based on scientific research – and those that do aren’t talking.
To quote Mr. Jakubiak: “We don’t know exactly how much damage can be done to commercial equipment. The phenomenon is well-known, but the variances in electronic equipment design, commercial design, and the systems that they are incorporated in, do not provide us with sufficient information to allow us to accurately predict how widespread the damage or disruption will be.”
One more comment on the single bomb EMP: a more likely scenario is the simultaneous EMP explosions of multiple devices across the country. Doing it this way will ensure complete infrastructure destruction. Of course, that also means it was done by a powerful nation like Russia or China and not some terrorist organization.
Anyway, my point here is that using EMP as a basis for a science fiction TV show or novel is fine. I have no real problem with it and I’m likely to enjoy it especially if it is well written. However, don’t expect me to believe for one second that the scenario is in anyway an accurate depiction of a possible real event. First of all, we don’t know what really would happen. It’s all speculation with little experimental data to back it up. Second, authors like to exaggerate the effects to give their story more impact.
Heck, that’s my attitude about any Sci-Fi description of a major event. Skynet taking over and killing people right and left? Doubtful but it makes interesting movies, right? Zombies walking (or running) across England after a “rage” virus is let loose? Laughably, no, but I liked the movie. Monkeys ruling the Earth thousands of years after a nuclear war to be discovered by Charlton Heston at the end of a misguided space flight? Heck no but Planet of the Apes was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid (I hate the Tim Burton version – well, the ending anyway).January 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm #6258
As I see things, the events in One Second After is speculative fiction presented in a worse case scenario using a situation that could happen. I would like to write the author and ask, “Wouldn’t they try to fix up as many bicycles as possible so that the use of fuel is minimized?” and “Wouldn’t you try to get as many goats as possible to be walking lawn mowers and fertilizer machines in downtown?” and “What about turning everyone’s lawns into vegetable gardens? How long does it take to grow a veggie anyways?”
We’ll get into zombies another time. While I agree with you that Zombies as portrayed in the movies and the Walking Dead as undead creatures looking at you as “lunch” is quite impossible, I do believe that there are things that can cause zombie-like behavior in people.
What I will prepare for is something that is more likely: earthquakes. While Sacramento is geographically insulated from Earthquakes, many people travel to San Francisco/San Jose/Los Angeles which has a higher probability for Earthquakes. How about wildfires? I can prepare for what is reasonable to expect. Even ready.gov says “Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days. Additionally, you may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.” Even the survivalist stuff, once you get through all of the hyperbole, contains useful information. I checked Amazon, and found some of the stuff quite cheap. After all, a good first aid kit costs no more than $15-$20. What is the harm in carrying that around “just in case”? I also have a ice chest in the back of my car. The primary reason: cheap drinks when traveling. Nothing wrong, however, with carrying a few bottles of water.January 21, 2014 at 4:23 am #6259
What I will prepare for is something that is more likely: earthquakes. While Sacramento is geographically insulated from Earthquakes, many people travel to San Francisco/San Jose/Los Angeles which has a higher probability for Earthquakes. How about wildfires? I can prepare for what is reasonable to expect. Even ready.gov says “Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days. Additionally, you may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.” Even the survivalist stuff, once you get through all of the hyperbole, contains useful information. I checked Amazon, and found some of the stuff quite cheap. After all, a good first aid kit costs no more than $15-$20. What is the harm in carrying that around “just in case”? I also have a ice chest in the back of my car. The primary reason: cheap drinks when traveling. Nothing wrong, however, with carrying a few bottles of water.
There you go, very sensible natural disasters to be concerned over, and far more likely to happen rather than all the other things in this thread. I’ve been carrying a soft foldable freezer bag in my car for years, but it’s mainly because I might be a good while from home and come across food in a store I’d like to get home before it melts. Anyhoo, I suggest getting some Meals Ready To Eat, otherwise known as MREs. You can keep them in your car for a decade and they’ll still be edible since they’re designed for long term storage. Several years back during a fishing trip with my uncle, he gave me a couple MREs, and they were pretty dang good. You want to think that military rations are going to be horrible tasting junk, but they’re shockingly tasty. They also assume that a soldier won’t get many chances to eat, so they’re crammed full of carbs and nutrition. If you eat nothing but MREs and don’t exercise much, you will get fat. But they’re great for emergencies. And there’s a lot of varieties of them.
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