4 out of 4 stars
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What would you do if you thought the world as you knew it was going to end? In Seer by Larry Austin, this is the question that the main character, Michael, has to answer. This is a science fiction novel set in the near future, written in the third person.
In the near future, Triton Research and Development proudly announces that it has discovered a new process that combines plastic with steel. This creates a material that is very durable and almost indestructible.
Shortly after this announcement, people start contracting a disease with similar symptoms to the common cold. The major difference being that this disease causes a numb feeling in the extremities. The virus was eventually identified, though no cure was discovered. What researchers did discover was that the virus seemed to consume itself leaving just one big version of itself left. This last one appeared to die. After some time had passed, this virus reappeared, only this time it left its victims as vegetables.
Dr. Michael Macalister worked in the infectious disease department and realized what this would mean for the future. He started making plans for his survival. About 80% of the population had contracted the so-called “numbing cold”, which meant that 80% of the world’s population would soon be vegetables or dead.
Michael bought a tract of land away from the city, and he started fortifying it. Realizing that he lacked the necessary skills, in both hunting and farming, he recruits two people that know both these skills to help get the place set up. After his wife dies, Michael realizes that it’s time to move from the city. Together with a few friends, Michael moves to his new home. More people join them and soon they are all learning the skills needed to feed and clothe themselves.
When the government finally collapses, the country deteriorates into chaos, with wild spread riots and looting. Foreseeing this outcome Michael had laid in a generous supply of weapons, and made his compound a veritable fortress. What would happen when looters finally came to call? Can Michael hold the community together? Only time will tell, and of course the rest of the series.
The author has clearly put a lot of thought into the psychology of the people that are left behind after an apocalypse. As each event occurred, I could see myself agreeing with Larry and thinking, “yes, that’s logical”. He has a smooth, flowing writing style that kept the story moving along nicely. He also gives good descriptions of both people and places so you can clearly see them in your minds eye.
I loved the forethought that went into the construction of Michael’s new home. Not only the thickness of the walls that made it nearly impregnable and the way the whole structure was fabricated to be mostly fireproof, but also the security features built into it to prevent unwanted intrusions. I was also amazed that, considering the situation that he found himself, Michael planned to build a large community, and not just arrange his own survival.
The part of this story that I found hardest to follow was all the characters that are included. This was compounded when the colony made contact with other residences nearby to open up trade possibilities. At times, I found myself wishing that Larry had included a glossary listing all the people.
This book is well written and has a solid ending. There is no cliffhanger at the end; this means you could read this as a standalone novel. However, there are hints throughout the book about where a follow on could possibly go. As this novel is about the initial collapse of civilization, I imaging the next book in the series would be a lot darker. I can’t wait to read it to find out.
The novel is very well proof read; I only found two mistakes in the whole book. The story had a wonderful plot that was easy to follow. It included a subtle blend of action and romance that I found quite engaging. Even though there are scenes of violence and of intimacy, neither is graphically described, and I don’t think they could give offense.
I have no qualms about giving this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I think that this book would appeal to many people. The elements of romance, survival, action and forward thinking shown throughout, gives it a broad base. However, anybody interested in the end of the world scenarios would probably get the biggest kick out of it. I can’t see anything in it that should offend anyone.
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