June 26, 2012

Digital Winter

Digital Winter
by Mark Hitchcock and Alton Gansky
publisher Harvest House
to be published August 2012
source:  NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:  a suspenseful and fast-moving story of life after a massive cyber attack.
Twenty-two-year-old savant Donny Elton can't tie his shoes, but his computer skills are unsurpassed. Egged on by a shadowy figure only he can see and hear, Donny creates an evolving computer virus that knocks out satellites, power grids, and communication systems. The world is thrown back into a lifestyle it hasn't known for a hundred years.

My perspectives:  Initially I was disappointed that the whole book didn't focus on Donny, the savant.    But then, if it had, we wouldn't have seen how the rest of the nation and the world was affected by the cyberattack.   Other characters we meet are:
  • Donny's father Stanley lives in a $3.5 million dollar condo and works for OPM Accounting (OPM stands for Other People's Money)
  • Dr. Roni Matisse works in a hospital in Washington, D.C.  
  • Her husband is Colonel Matisse who specializes in cyber security and is stationed at USCYBERCOM in Fort Meade. 
  • Plus many more minor characters.
The lights flicker, the lights go out, they come back on.  Finally all power goes off around the world.  Automobiles and planes are affected.   The world is DARK.   Is this an act of terrorism?  But it is impossible to control 100% of the power grids at the same time.  Colonel Matisse  is called to an underground site where the US government officials go in times of dire emergency.  Dr. Matisse has to perform surgery without electricity. 

Dystopia fiction is one of my favorite genres, however I had never read end-times novels until this one.   Some characters in the novel are Christian, some are non-believers.  I came to care for most of the characters and couldn't put this book down until the very end  and I plan to search for others by the authors.

Sidenote:   way back in the mid-1970's I discovered a short story The Waveries written in 1945 by Fredric Brown.   Some "aliens" eat all electrical and radio waves.  The humans in that time era (1950's) have to go back to the way they lived 50 years before.  Horses become valuable again.   Every time a lightning storm causes the power to go out, I think of The Waveries.    It is my top favorite short story, no longer available free on the Internet, alas.  However it is in several anthologies.   Therefore, I was interested to compare this short story written in 1945 with Digital Winter written almost 70 years later.

June 2, 2012

The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles
author:  Karen Thompson Walker
publishing date June 2012
publisher Random House
source:  NetGalley

Have you ever said, "I need more time in the day?"
I have, especially when deadlines loom.
Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

The Age of Miracles opens with people not noticing the extra time in their day.   Some night-workers did, but they thought it was because of the loneliness and darkness.  At the beginning, the disaster was invisible.

Then it is announced on television ---  the days had grown by 56 minutes.   Panic in the world ensues.  Time to stock up.   Or move. 

Our narrator, Julia, is only eleven years old.  She states "we kids were not as afraid as we should have been.  We were too young."  She describes her parents' reactions -- mother pours more Scotch, dad goes to work delivering babies. 

The world changes, not just the people.   Climate, animals, plants are affected.     People divide into two camps:  those who live in 24-hour-time according to the clock and those who behave according to day-and-dark.  Rarely the twain shall meet.

Julia grows.  She has a crush on a boy at the school bus stop.  She enters middle school, "the age of miracles," a time of change, when kids shot up and regarded their parents differently.  Her life is slow-moving, which is true for kids that age -- we know time drags for kids (as opposed to us older people).   Because of the Slowing of Time,  her narration is perfect.

Highly recommended.    Unusual to read dystopia in the eyes of a 11-year-old.   Poignant.  I would have loved to read more.