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.
"[An] entertaining apocalyptic thriller....fans of such classics as Alas, Babylon and On the Beach will have a good time as Forstchen tackles the obvious and some not-so-obvious questions the apocalypse tends to raise." (Publishers Weekly)
The preaching about the dangers of relying on technology gets a little old. If it had been straight-up post-apocalyptic thriller, it would have been fine; throwing in a couple of comments about how dependent we had been on technology would have been OK, too, but the book really beats it into you. Still, I could hardly turn the audio off on this one. If you are interested in similar themes (minus the preaching), try Lucifer's Hammer (huge meteorite) or The Stand (flu pandemic).
Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!
I think not!
But I get it. This is meant to be a cautionary, worst case scenario tale against doing nothing to prepare against an EMP event. If that was the goal, then I think it could have been better handled as a satire, (A Modest Proposal) because Forstchen’s portraiture of America and Americans didn’t ring true for me.
In under a week the protagonist, John, is publicly executing looters. In less than 20 days this small town representation of America has turned into a “show me your papers, please,” East Germany, and in less than two months the author has us devolving into cannibalism. Not unlikely events, to be sure, but on that timeframe when all the buildings are still habitable, roads passable (with the dead cars out of the way), potable water and fertile land? Bear in mind, there’s been no direct nuclear devastation, no pandemic, no major natural disaster – no zombies or aliens. Power is out, communications are down and transportation is limited.
In trying to paint this bleak picture of America, Forstchen neglects one of the ingredients that makes America, America: imagination. If we lost the use of our cars, and cell phones, and computers, and drugs we would be annoyed and frustrated – and scared, but we wouldn’t become helpless to the point of cannibalism in less than 60 days! Not our DIY, “think globally, buy locally,” live off the grid, alternative fuel, ride your bike to work day society!
Throughout the story, too many times I caught myself thinking things like, “wait a second! You mean to tell me that a small community outside of progressive Asheville doesn’t have a co-op run organic farm or a community garden? It has horses but no mounted police? No farriers? No yuppie urbanites with $3000 dollar bicycles to form a courier system or bicycle brigade? Really?”
This is a town made up of chain smoking college professors and ex-military, Cold War military. There appear to be no artisans, blacksmiths or gunsmiths... or carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. The youth at the local college are particularly useless and only good for training as militia. Where are the nerds – the engineers, the techno and auto geeks who would view the lack of electricity and functioning circuitry as a challenge? There are Civil War re-enactors, but no Native American folk-life demonstrators, or traditional life-ways practitioners? There are “survivalist-types,” but none with a stockpile of MREs? Really? And no one, except for the campus security guard, demonstrates any real individual leadership, not even our protagonist. He gets placed into leadership positions through circumstance.
In the best post-apocalyptic, dystopian future novels (think Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Atwood’s A Handmaiden’s Tale, Orwell’s 1984 or King’s The Stand) the “bad thing” happens before the story and the story is about how the indomitable human spirit overcomes. In the end, One Second After is a cautionary tale against homogeneity and the loss of imagination – killers of our human spirit, for without that, whether we face a super flu epidemic, an EMP strike or the zombie apocalypse, our society is lost.
Author of Stitch Alchemy
The writing was depressingly shallow and none of the characters reacted as they should. Although the main character is a Colonel in the military, he is constantly shocked and surprised by the way people are reacting to what appears to be an apocalyptic emergency. Then, during a mad rush for supplies, he takes time out to explain everything from the history of EMP's to which countries have been working on strategic weapons, to a bunch of townspeople who have apparently been hiding under a rock. If the town were populated by ten year olds, I expect they'd be more educated. It is unfortunate when a novelist has to cram his entire back story into a pedantic monologue at the feet of fools.
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly if this were a TV movie of the week which had to wrap up in 2 hours), despite heavy looting our hero is able to find just the thing he needs, untrampled and hidden all the way in the back where no other person has managed to find it.. The last bags of ice, the last candy bars, the last cans of Ensure. This guy's incredibly lucky! The rest of the town is not very persistent in their quest for survival, so they keep leaving the last of everything for him!
For a great post-apocalyptic book which is as fresh as the day it was written, try "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank, and don't waste your money on this badly put together junk. I don't bother writing bad reviews, but I'm so disappointed that I spent money on this and I'm done assaulting my ears, so into the trash bin it goes.
The reader did a great job with a terrible script.
I really enjoyed this book!! I am very interested in history, anthropology, geopolitics and other topics. Because of my broad interests, I found this book compelling on several levels.
Too many people are getting uptight as they are strangled by their varied perspectives to evaluate this book fairly. The fact is that it is not only plausible, it could happen today. The time line laid out was both scary and fascinating.
I found the writing, narration, technical accuracy and of this novel to be excellent. Also, as a former infantry officer I can say the author has an impressive understanding of land warfare.
I have literally lost count of how many titles I have purchased on audible. In all of those-this is my first review.
This story was incredible...poignant, heart-breaking, and shocking. All that took place in this book hit home so hard because deep down you know that it could possibly happen.
I cried when they suffered, smiled with them, and cheered when they triumphed over daunting challenges. I highly recommend this title...All in all-A Profoundly Moving 'What If' Story. It would be awesome to have a sequel!!
This was an amazing book. I was aware of the threat of EMP's before reading this book, but after reading this book it makes that already known threat seem even more plausible. The concept can make for a very interesting conversation with a friend. The narration felt as if he was really in the situation. Great book and easy to follow.
This book has left me haunted by the possibility that this could really happen to us and will leave you wondering how you would fare. I disagree with many of the previous reviews and think this is a must read. The narrator does a brilliant job with the different characters. In fact, there wasn't anything I didn't like about this book. Get it.
I'm very glad that I listened to this book. I actually had to take a day off from it at one point, because I found parts of the story very disturbing. Even if you don't think the premise is credible (a position I would find naive)- it is interesting to think about what the consequences would be of losing the communication, the flow of information, and the conveniences that we rely on daily.
An eye opening, "page turner" listen about what could happen if Americans had to survive long term without electricity or technology, the impacts to our society and the horrible choices that might have to be made. It also illustrates the current vulnerability of our electrical grid and technology to electro magnetic pulse weapons.
It can be a real downer so I wouldn't recommend it if you are in a vulnerable place in your life.
At the end I wanted to run out and buy a pre-1980s car, build a home underground, buy a generator, and store away enough supplies for 5 years. Logic prevailed and I called my Senator/Congressman and asked them if they understood how vulnerable we are. If enough Americans start asking the question - we may collectively address the risk before it is too late. Although I wouldn't argue against buying extra canned food, fuel, bottled water and storing it away. If someone offered me a great deal on a pre-1980s Volvo 240................
Middle-aged, married dad of two, living in Northern Burbs of Chicago. Hard Sci Fi addict, and lover of great storytelling. Almost all of my reading is now in audio format.
I did enjoy One Second After, but more like I would a campy 1950s horror movie rather than the hard fiction apocalyptic tale he endeavors to weave.
I get it. We've all pretty much heard of the attack he describes. And yup, It's scary. But honestly, I think he assumes WAAAAY too much potency for the attack - basically 100% effective. No weapon in history has ever boasted that kind of efficacy. If there is a range of how bad an EMP attack would be, Fortschen has definitely turned the dial to 11.
Character behavior and their relationships appeal for emotive connection through the melancholy stoicism of the Confederacy. I actually enjoy this style, though, which is why I rated it as highly as I did. But I don't think it's anything like how people would behave today.
I also think his characters waste a ton of time and energy trying to establish an isolated 19th century society and culture through resurrection of obsolete technology, when they would probably get much further by simply trying to fix the current infrastructure lying repairable all around them.
For emotive story telling, though, I give Fortschen a 4. For realistic treatment of a real potential risk... a 2.
"Best of the Genre"
I have listened to a few in this genre and this is the first that has managed to stir my emotions. Great story, well narrated and frighteningly easy to put yourself and your family in the story. Superb.
"First audio book and I really enjoyed it."
Believable story with decent characters. One of the best post apocalyptic readings I have ever enjoyed.
"A shocking look at how fragile our civilisation is"
If all of our modern conveniences were taken away in a split second how long would it take our society to unravel? How long would it take civilisation to revert to savagery?
This book is a disturbing what if scenario which could become reality all too easily if not though EMP as depicted in this work then by other means such as economic collapse.
A truly riveting story which is shocking and disturbing along which some devastatingly heart-breaking moments.
This book will definitely leave you thinking, if not change your outlook on our times.
A Five Star Listen
This book really does well at demonstrating how dependent we have become on our electrical devices and gives an impression of how life would be if they were all suddenly taken away. If you enjoyed watching Jericho (or any other apocalyptic fiction) you will love this. Parts of this book will excite you, others will depress you, death is inevitable throughout.
"This should be a wake up call to everyone."
Think of everything in life your that runs on electricity or that has an electronic circuit of any kind from home appliances to hospital equipment to vehicles. everything in our lives now depends upon something with a circuit. NOW THINK WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE LOSE EVERYTHING WE DEPEND ON.
This novel is what the above scenario is about. This novel is nothing short of a wake up to call to everyone, government's especially, as to what would happen in the event of a terrorist (or rogue state) using Electro-Magnetic Pulse as a weapon. EMP IS NOT Science Fiction. It is real and has been proven. But no country is prepared.
This novel revolves around a small mountain town in Carolina, which is cut off, like all other towns and cities, when a nuclear device is set off at high altitude over the USA destroying everything electronic throughout the north american continent. It is the story of how the town has only itself and it's limited resources to rely on. How the town suffers agonising losses and has to make heartbreaking decisions in order to survive. It shows how life without the technology we depend upon will throw us back to the dark ages.
This is as thought provoking as it is shocking and everyone, from the ordinary man or women to high ranking politicians, should read this.
This may be a work of fiction but it is a very real possibility.
Enthralling! Thought Provoking!
John - a normal, caring individual
Makes John come to life.
Several moving moments - found myself crying as I drove
An excellent book which I have recommended to many friends. The manner in which modern life rapidly collapses is thought provoking to say the least!
"The end of the world as we know it."
Civilisation calapses. Endure........
The drama and the potential that it is feasible.
Great representation of characters.
Eating his dog...I was gutted
Enjoyable, and will make you think.
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