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One Second After    by William R. Forstchen order for
One Second After
by William R. Forstchen
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2009 (2009)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Imagine that you (just like history professor John Matherson in William R. Forstchen's brilliant novel One Second After) are having an ordinary spring day - it is, by the way, 4:50 p.m. on a delightful afternoon in the month of May - and then, if you can, imagine that the electricity in your house inexplicably goes off. Also imagine that your car will not run. Your laptop computer, though it presumably has battery power, will not work. Both your cell-phone and your MP3 are useless. Putting it succinctly, anything and everything that depends upon electricity or electronic components is dead - really, really dead!

Then imagine that you (just like former Army officer John Matherson of Black Mountain, North Carolina) are slowly beginning to realize that something you feared as inevitable has finally happened. Someone - though no one knows who because all North American communications capabilities have been obliterated - has detonated at least one electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) in the atmosphere above the United States.

Now (just like the widowed father of two daughters, John Matherson of Montreat College) you realize that this is not merely a temporary problem that will simply inconvenience you and your family for several days or weeks. No, this is something much worse, and you and everyone you know are thrust into an unfathomable nightmare of medieval proportions in which confusion, chaos, desperation, famine, disease, horror, violence, and death gain momentum and threaten to erase all vestiges of modern civilization.

You (like the resilient Matherson) hear your weary, frightened neighbor when he says, 'Not in a million years did I ever think we'd come to this.' However, you understand that it is going to get worse. Much worse! But all you can say for the moment is, 'Damn our enemies!' Then, putting your anger behind you, you must focus on a very basic task: Survival.

I do not want to say much more here about the premise, plot, characters, and action in Forstchen's highly recommended One Second After, but I need to say this: If you read only one book this year, this is the one. You will not soon forget what confronts John Matherson, his family, his neighbors in western North Carolina, and the people of the United States. Forstchen's must-read novel is more than compelling speculative fiction; it is a contemporary cautionary tale that warns all of us about a potential and probable danger that may become reality at any moment. When it happens, may God help us all!

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