BLUF: Five flippin’ stars. An amazing work in the first rank, think Alas, Babylon, The Stand or On the Beach. It’s that good.
Need I say more?
Well, I will anyway. Here is why you should run out and buy Zero Day Code, which is at last available in Kindle format on Amazon. ZDC was previously Audible only, and now we junkies of the written word can jump in on the fun.
First, we encounter any number of believable heroes and villains, both sets of which come with human traits and flaws. There are no bulging biceps or straining bras, seemingly bulletproof protagonists or withering damsels in distress. No, these are flesh and blood people trying to survive in what becomes a desperate struggle for the living.
Next, the settings are carefully researched and believably presented. The reader can easily place her or himself into the action, at times one can almost taste and smell the locales. Beautifully done, and with a real feel for place and time.
Another point is a driving sense of urgency throughout the work. I experienced this as a strong desire to first keep listening, and then later to turn the pages of the ebook. This is a very difficult book to put down.
Finally, JB’s work is terrifying. The depiction of the situation and the catalyst is dead on. Harrowing. You can absolutely picture the scenario in this book happening tomorrow, the work leaves you with a distinct feeling of unease. Dread.
For me? This book makes me appreciate our currently peaceful and mostly pleasant world, epidemics and political strife set aside. It also rubs my nose in the fact that everything we hold dear is fragile and easily lost. Not to be taken for granted.
Today I’m going to talk a little about something most of us take for granted.
Electricity on demand.
See recent utter disaster in Texas, energy capitol of the US. One significant weather event and half the state was plunged into darkness and freezing conditions. It’s terrible.
John Birmingham, one of my favorite authors, wrote a terrifying book called Zero Day Code. A cyber attack by a hostile state pretty much guts the US, and the US retaliates in spectacular fashion. This book is riveting and horrifying at the same time. As I watched the news this week, I thought of his work. See image below.
Pretty disturbing reading.
For those in Texas, the moment to go buy a small, quality generator is too late.
For those of us who can, you may want to consider buying a small backup unit. They are relatively expensive, but so are burst pipes or spoiled food. In addition, you will also want to safely store at least 5G/20L of high-octane gasoline. Finally, you will want a heavy-duty extension cord for whatever appliance or set of lights that you choose to run.
I would suggest that you consult an electrician to find out how to run your furnace with your new generator, or the refrigerator.
Where I live, we usually lose power during violent summer weather events. Our record without power was eight days or so. Some people were pretty miserable by the end of that one. However, I am well aware that power outages can happen in the winter, too. One year we lost power on New Year’s Day; I had to start the generator early in the morning at 0F/-18C.
This is why, today, I made sure that our family generator had a fresh battery, gas, and I test ran it for an hour or so. Yeah, it totally shot my writing, but hearing that generator run gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. The feeling that I won’t be swearing and cursing the day that I overlooked sensible measures and maintenance out of laziness.
No, our generator will not defend against Zero Day Code hellish experiences. News flash: nothing will.
However, what it will do is keep us warm for a minimum of 72 hours in the winter. Under most circumstances this will do. I could milk it out for longer, up to a week using only the fuel I have stored, if I ran it only when we got seriously cold. As the article is titled, sensible measures. Not crazy-man stuff.
Even in the city it makes sense to get a generator and then learn how to use it. Learn its quirks and its limitations. Maintain it.
Maintain it. There. I think I’ve said it three times. A generator is USELESS if you can’t get it to start.
Most of the time it just sits there and you feel slightly ridiculous that you own it. Trust me when I tell you: when you need that thing, you will really need it. So take care of it.
Today I will speak of only the generator. It’s a nice to have thing.
I have said nothing about food, water and shelter.
There’s problems with that stuff down south, too. Those of you who are currently unaffected, those who still have the luxury of time and resources, you might want to do a bare minimum of planning for some type of extreme weather event.
Just a thought. I think my readers are a cut above. Y’all are big boys and girls, you can figure it out.
Well all, the middle of an amazingly cold and bleak February is upon us, and I suppose I’m pleased to report that I’ve gone over some two hundred thousand words in my planned trilogy. For me, that’s a lot of writing. Generally spoken one of my novels is about 90k, so this means that I’m about 20-30k into Book Three of this unpublished trilogy.
A good start, 20 or 30k. It’s enough to give you the idea that you’re stuck into a book pretty well, that you’re not screwing around. My final target for the series is about 270k, I think I’ll probably come up a couple of thousand short, but not by a crazy amount.
As you all know, writing is my bulwark against the black dogs of winter. The more I write, the better I feel.
Funny how before my fortieth birthday the only thing I ever wrote were papers at college and military reports. Now I can’t imagine not having this gift during my unplanned early retirement.
Let’s add it up, I’ve never done this before.
My original trilogy. ~270k.
Second trilogy. ~200k to date.
Numbered book. ~56k
Unpublished novellas. ~111k
Fanfic, odd jobs, etc. ~30k
And I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting. However, let’s bust out my computer’s calculator. 703k words, approximately.
Whoa. That’s a lot of writing, especially for an unemployed ex-soldier. This represents seven winter’s outputs- it looks as if I’ve kicked out about 100k words each black season since 2014. I hadn’t realized it was so much until just now; plus, each year for the past four I’ve typed about 50k words onto this website. So heap another 200k words onto my total.
That’s well over 900k words since I was put out to pasture by the Army.
I anticipate that by COB 2021 that I will exceed 1,000k words.
One Million Words.
How did this happen?
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t unpleasant. It’s simply surprising, like watching an odometer roll onto 111,111.1 miles or something.
It’s kind of hard to imagine these days, but this region has a pretty dark and bloody past. As I write my alternate history, I’m always thinking about how things could have been different.
But they weren’t. What happened was that waves of what were known as “Scots-Irish” were chased into America’s frontier with the express intent to violently displace the natives that lived there.
The refugees from the aftershocks of the Battle of Culloden were encouraged to take a ship to America. Once there, they were further encouraged to head west into the waiting mountains. They were heavily armed and primed for conflict; vicious fighting took place. It lasted for decades and the mentality of all against all lasts to this day.
This actually explains a lot about how Americans came to view the world as they do. The maintenance of weapons. The feeling of being threatened by outsiders. The ready resort to violence. It’s all there if you care to look, written into the blood and the history books.
My family and I, we have been touched by this as well.
I need only look at my genetic chart.
Fascinating stuff. Oddly enough one of the most likely matches is for Glasgow, and I can’t think of a single glaringly Scottish name in my background. There are a number of English ones, though. So who knows. But the thumbprint is there, an echo of a long-forgotten war.
But is it really forgotten?
I’d argue not. I read an excellent book years ago about America and the folkways it inherited from England called “Albion’s Seed.”
One of the folkways was the Scots-Irish, also known as the “Borderers.” As I read the book, I clearly recognized the traditions described in my family and region. Hundreds of years later, and millions still act as if they are huddled in threatened settlements, with reivers or other hostiles at the door. It is a mentality that is very, very hard to break. Also, the borderers and the regions they settled tend to have very high populations of combat veterans.
Guilty as charged.
Of course, genes and culture are not destiny. We can all make choices that break the mold, and what’s funny is that a further perusal of my genetic chart reveals other choices my ancestors made in an attempt at forging a better world.
I’ve also got a lot of German and NW European blood, along with a smattering of Native American (with a named ancestor, Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux)). So ha, the borderers ended up breeding with their sworn enemies over the course of centuries.
I think there’s a delicious irony in this, and a message of hope. If we can slaughter each other and put our enemies to the sword, we can also get along and agree on the common things. In the end, we are all human, we want the same things.
A good life for our kids. A comfortable old age. A dry roof. You get what I’m saying.
Yeah, there’s violence and bad stuff.
But if the borderers, whose blood many of us carry, could move past it, then we inhabitants of the 21st century can, too. Our circumstances are so much better, we have no excuse.
Let the only war we wage be in our movies and books.