Books for December

I recently read the following two books:

The Sunrise Lands by S.M. Stirling – This is the second trilogy in Stirling’s Emberverse, a fantastical version of our world where an event in 1998 fundamentally changed the laws of physics so that electronics or explosive chemical reactions no longer work. Cars are useless as are guns, and the survivors of the dark times are coalescing into various neo-feudal societies.

The first trilogy was about the struggles for survival in the Wilamette Valley in Oregon. That being settled for now, Stirling takes us ten years into the future and explores the children of the protagonists (and antagonists) as they head east to follow a mysterious message to seek out Nantucket, MA, supposedly the epicenter of the event.

As usual Stirling writes action well and does a good job of describing gritty heroes. I really liked one of the new characters introduced here (Fr. Ignatius) and the children of the first trilogy are starting to come into their own now. I’m looking forward to the next book of the series.

World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler – This novel takes place in the upstate NY town of Union Grove a decade or so after everything went downhill. It never lays specific blame on one element, but peak oil, a jihad in Jerusalem, race-riots, and economic depressions are all mentioned as elements of this framework of disaster. But, this book is centered on how the residents of this small town make a go of life and the challenges they face from without and within. Kunstler is author of several books talking about Peak Oil and the demise of our way of living so technically this book is a polemic, but it is not badly-written and isn’t as in your face as you’d expect a polemic to be. It is a pleasant read that you might want to place on your list should you ever worry about shortages of oil, water, or civil government.

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