Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
S.M. Stirling, Dies The Fire

by Jerry Wright

Dies The Fire
Author: S.M. Stirling
Publisher: ROC
Format: Hardcover
Length: 483 Pages
ISBN: 0451459792
Price: $23.95

I've thoroughly enjoyed Steve Stirling's "Alternate History" books about Nantucket, Island In The Stream Of Time and the others in this series. They are well-written page turners. But what happened to the present when Nantucket headed for the past? Wellllll.... Could have been many things, perhaps a splitting of the time-stream, or 20th century Earth could be like nothing we could imagine, or... "And now for something completely different!"

So, when the huge energy storm surrounded Nantucket, everything changed on Earth. Immutable laws of the cosmos Changed. Electricity no longer works. Nor do gasoline, diesel, or propane powered engines, and explosives don't explode. Which means guns don't work. So Sam Colt no longer makes people equal. Especially the police and military.

One of the characters figures that it's "Alien Space Bats" experimenting, and it could be. I once heard an ugly statistic. It was figured that one third of people are basically bad and will search for ways to steal, etc. One third are weak, and will steal/loot if nobody is looking, or if they figure they can't get caught. And one third are basically honest.

Not very good odds.

Are the characters "cardboard" as one reader suggests? I don't think so! If you can tell Mike Havel from Ken Larsson or Dennis, and Juniper from Signe or Pam, you have characters that stick in your mind.

Mike Havel is an ex-marine, now a pilot who crashes his light plane but saves his passengers, the Larssons. He now needs to trek with them back to civilization. But civilization is gone. Fortunately for the good people he meets, and unfortunately for the bad guys, he is an experienced backwoodsman, as well as a trained killer when need be.

Juniper Mackenzie is a professional musician with a Celtic turn, but is also a Wiccan. And her particular brand of "being close to the Earth" as well as an unusual tough-mindedness helps save her "coven" and start the beginnings of a community.

The story of these two and their followers, and the evil men who come crawling out of the woodwork when there is no "duly constituted authority" to keep them under control, make a fine novel the moves rapidly along and keeps you hooked until the wee hours. Although this is the first in a projected trilogy, it ends on a high point. But you want to read more to find out what happens next.

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