A human darkness with a vast appetite for chaos and violence.
That is what simmers in the background, waiting to be released, which is exactly what unfolds in Steven Konkoly‘s The Perseid Collapse and William R. Forstchen‘s One Second After.
Unfortunately, what they write about in fiction is all too real a threat.
A Dangerous Situation
An aged power grid is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks or natural or man-made EMPs. This really isn’t a secret to the powers that be. In fact, if they truly cared about people, they would have taken measures to shore up the grid years ago. They’re too busy figuring out how to buy votes and bail out their buddies. If this is all new to you, check out the latest threats to the grid here. A decade or so ago, the United States finally began deploying a missile defense system to protect us from human causes. Again, politics continues to threaten expansion and upgrades.
National Geographic aired the docudrama American Blackout which showed what could happen with the grid down for a few days. What would happen if this lasted weeks or months? Many people think (or hope) disasters like these won’t or cannot happen. Ask people who have lived through hurricanes and tornadoes or earthquakes. Fiction can remind us what is really important in life. It tells us action is better than hoping for the best.
Should protecting the country from nuclear holocaust or complete collapse really be a political issue? I’m thinking most would rather not be vaporized or watch their cities self-destruct. Sooner or later, disasters will come, whether natural or man-made.
Ignoring this is beneath human intelligence. Let’s do something about it.
Categories: Books, What You Can Do
Tags: 33 Minutes, A Nation Forsaken, American Blackout, EMP, grid, missile defense, One Second After, power grid, Steven Konkoly, The Perseid Collapse, William R. Forstchen
Some great articles around the web for writers this week:
Author Nadine Brandes writes on how marketing is no longer just about running ads, but connecting with your readers and building a tribe. If it’s hard for you to find time to write, Honorée Corder explains how to make writing second nature. Trying to figure out the ever-changing publishing landscape? Turns out that the mass market paperback market just won’t die — not completely anyway.
So many people get lulled into a day-to-day existence of hitting their marks, getting stuff done, running place to place — to do it all again the next day. And the next.
Every so often there are tuggings on our minds, glimpses and reminders, that we are meant for more than just staring into televisions, playing with our phones and letting society tell us who we are and what we should be.
For brief moments we realize that we are part of an epic tale. All is not what it seems to be. A war rages in us, around us. A question demands an answer: What is your part in the story? Will you embrace it or walk away into a bottomless abyss of whatever others have decided for you?
Milena chose to step through the veil. Ethan conquered the Darkness and embraced his strength. Kane stopped fearing what he was. Duncan would find his place among those like him. Kyra made the shadows flee from her. They all stood together against the impossible.
Among the Shadows not only tells their stories, but of what simmers in us all.
After seeing this video on judging people equally, I was reminded of this famous quote from George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Animal Farm, both allegory and satire, was published in 1945 as a commentary on the totalitarian communist regime of Stalin. Yet it is still very much relevant today in that people seem to unwittingly allow ideas of inequality and fake tolerance into their thinking. We tolerate unless it offends us. We are inclusive if we agree with the included. We preach equality, but judge differently.
It is easy to caught up in causes, movements and emotion. These are the times we should be most on guard, for this is when others can take advantage of us. When we aren’t thinking clearly, and chaos is around us, we should stop and clear our mind. As Orwell wrote:
In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
And so is defending truth.
Why do people read? Why do writers tell stories? in Epic, John Eldredge writes:
It goes far deeper than entertainment…Stories nourish us…we hope to find in someone else’s story something that will help us understand our own…Stories shed light on our lives. As Daniel Taylor has written, “Our stories tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do…” That is why, if you want to know someone, you need to know their story. “But in order to make you understand,” explained novelist Virginia Woolf, “to give you my life, I must tell you a story.”
Tell yours, read that of others. Find your place in the Story.
Why are so many stories about people banding together in small, close-knit groups (or ones that become that way)? Even the brooding loners eventually join a team — Logan joins the X-Men, Ironman goes with the Avengers. This theme permeates writing, film and history, as John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead:
When Neo is set free from the Matrix, he joins the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar…[and] the small fellowship [is] called to set the captives free…a family bound together in a single fate. Together, they train for battle. Together, they plan their path…each has a role, a gifting, a glory…You see this sort of thing at the center of every great story. Dorothy takes her journey with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion, and of course, Toto. When he left Rivendell, Frodo didn’t head out with a thousand Elves. He had eight companions. When Captain John Miller is sent deep behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan, he goes in with a squad of eight rangers…[even] Jesus had the Twelve.
It is in our nature, our very design, to not go at it alone. This is why our art, our writings, and our history, so often remind us of this. Eldredge concludes:
Though we are part of a great company, we are meant to live in little platoons. The little companies we form must be small enough for each of the members to know one another as friends and allies. Is it possible for five thousand people who gather…to really and truly know one another? …how about five hundred? One hundred and eight? It can’t be done…It can be inspiring and encouraging to celebrate with a big ol’ crowd of people, but who will fight for your heart?
Our stories are reflections of who we are and remind us not to forsake our nature.
Ready to choose your side in the War Among the Shadows? Answer who wrote the following first lines, and in what book or poem they are found, and you’ll win Among the Shadows for your Kindle!
1. April is the cruelest month.
2. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…
3. Call me Ishmael.
4. It was a pleasure to burn.
Use the Contact form to send the answers, and I’ll be sending up to three winners their own Kindle copy of Among the Shadows. Good luck!
Update: Congrats to Julie D. for winning! Here are the answers:
1. April is the cruelest month. – The Waste Land, T.S. Elliot
2. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary… – The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe
3. Call me Ishmael. – Moby Dick, Herman Melville
4. It was a pleasure to burn. – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The answer is no.
The mantra to pump out stories as fast as you can is doomed to fail. Readers will tire of repetition and lack of originality (and quality). Anne R. Allen goes into more detail in Are Slow Writers Doomed to Fail in the Digital Age?.
Write your story, your best story, and not someone else’s.