So I recently had the honor of having a mini-story put out on John Birmingham’s Patreon website. If you aren’t a subscriber to his apocalyptic universe, you should be. He’s putting out tremendous stuff. You can read the first completed book for two bucks, plus a lot of bonus content. Among the treasure trove of stuff to read are a couple of shorts by yours truly, so if you’re keen, check it out.
The story I wrote was kind of my homage to King and his masterpiece “The Stand,” a book that many of you are familiar with.
I thought of it while focused on things other than writing, this seems to be how I land with a lot of my concepts. Hurried up and banged out the short before I lost the idea; I’ve learned to strike while the fire is hot.
How does this relate to the image above?
Allow me to explain. So Birmingham’s book is about a world cast into madness via cyber warfare. He goes on to describe America’s descent into anarchy and ruin.
It occurred to me that we’ve been there before. Almost. It was a close-run thing.
Wide swathes of the United States were in utter ruins and under martial law for a long time during the 1860’s-70’s. And that was the US “back East,” out west there was very little rule of law at all. This was exacerbated by a vicious war between white settlers, the Army, and the natives that continued until the 1890’s.
I think this period explains a lot about what is known to some as “America’s gun culture,” there remained a deep-seated need passed down through the generations to be armed against all comers, at all times. Also, the sheer geography of the American territories dictated that law enforcement’s role was essentially to collect the dead and hang the guilty, actual crime prevention and deterrence is a relatively recent phenomenon.
If you are not familiar with the American Civil War or would like to see a realistic depiction of the Wild West, I would recommend two films. The first is Cold Mountain, the second is Hostiles. Look ’em up, watch them.
The Civil War produced nearly Soviet scale casualties, 620,000 dead out of a pre-war population of 31 million. To this day one still comes across echoes of that conflict in the oddest of places, see photo above.
My wife had a visit to the doctor, I was bored. So I took a quick walk. Tucked into a residential neighborhood of a small town there was a cemetery. I noticed a cannon, so I decided to take a look. Lo and behold, there was yet another Civil War cemetery. There are so many of those things around. And those were guys whose remains were actually ID’d and brought home. Many, many remained unidentified in mass graves.
Could this happen again, I thought in that somber place.
Birmingham’s book provides the answer in plausible fashion.
Read it. You’ll see for yourself.