EMP attack. We hear the words and kind of fuzzily think "oh the power will be out, better stock up on candles." At least, that was how I looked at it. Faraday cages. Tinfoil hats for our mobile phones. But it's not a laughing matter.
5 years ago, Bill Quick put out a warning in the form of his well-researched, scientifically accurate novel "Lightning Fall". (It's also an exciting adventure story, but we'll get to that part later.)
This past November, the US Military issued a report on the danger of EMP that in many ways paralleled the likely events Quick had identified in 2014: "Military warns EMP attack could wipe out America, 'democracy, world order' "
This week, our President Trump took action to protect us against EMP attack.
In his second National Emergency Executive Order, President Trump again puts our safety first, and established the first ever "comprehensive policy to improve resilience to EMPs".
Congress was first warned about the danger of a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack in 2008. Two presidents and five Congresses failed to act to shore up our local defenses against it. But finally, we have a President who does not play "kick the can".
We know we dodged a bullet when we elected Trump instead of Clinton 2.0. A read of Lightning Fall shows us we also dodged an atomic bomb - and how important is our President's action to protect us against just such a disaster.
As for me, if I had not read Quick's book, I might have glossed over this presidential EO without thinking. However, coincidentally, I finally read the book last month. As they used to say "my consciousness has been raised". I understand the danger now. I won't laugh at tin foil any more.
A good storyteller, and a perceptive cultural analyst, Bill Quick's novel can almost be used to blueprint our own preparations for the total disruption of communication and services. Lightning Fall takes snapshots of the consequences from every angle and puts them up for us to see how our particular location would look. Through his characters, who seem like people I already know, we get ideas to adapt to our own circumstances to insure our own survival, the survival of our families and our neighborhoods.
I don't know about you, but I will remember "how" info better when I have a context for it... a scenario creates a full picture of not only how, but of what and why, of when and who. This is what I found in Lightning Fall.
Lightning Fall is a fast paced, exciting thriller with unpredictable turns that kept me turning pages until late at night, and a solid story peopled with characters who matter. Quick's characters are ordinary people in different locations around the country, from Mississippi to San Francisco to the heartland to what seemed in 2013 the inevitable Hillary Clinton Whitehouse ("Millicent Carter"). Each faces different problems caused by the EMP attacks and has to handle those problems in different ways, whether prepared or not.
What a battle they face. There's a criminal element in every town, from cities to the smallest hamlet, and those are the first bad guys to take advantage when the lights go out. Threats can also come from unexpected sources: a bank manager who refuses to allow a mother to empty her safe deposit box in order to pay the mortgage, a neighbor alerting a gang member to supplies in the apartment below. But faithful allies are also not as far away as first believed, and the weak uncover strengths they had not needed before, in the nick of time.
A deeper crisis threatens the very foundation of our republic when the national government - unaffected by the EMP - sets a course to abandon the needy and take overtly political action that means the deaths of millions, in order to assure partisan victory in an upcoming election. The individuals in our story are facing not only immediate threats, but the prospect of being left to their own devices indefinitely.
Quick has given his individual characters some advantage: they've been "prepping", each in their own way, so they aren't completely in the lurch immediately. Instead, each faces dangers and threats they had failed to foresee, and has to rely on their wits, and the hand of Providence, to win out over those who would separate their soul from their body without a second thought.
Bill Quick is an astute observer of the culture and politics of our time, and Lightning Fall showcases those observations well. Ever imagine that Mexico's capital might be working behind the scenes to undermine local governments in California? Or that someone else might be pulling the eternally corrupt strings that animate Mexico's political class? Lightning Fall maps the course some of that leverage might take.
His grasp of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been like is chillingly authentic... and I suspect if Mrs Clinton or Bill ever read Quick's portrayal of their marriage, they might look around and wonder if he had been listening in, so credibly does he suggest how the fictional "Carters" relate to each other in the intimacy of their private marital relationship, right down to moments that are almost endearing (or would be if the consequences of their ambitions weren't so fatal to the rest of us).
Our heroes, most of them, survive in this story, and are looking forward with strength and hope at the end of the book, thanks to their remarkable American values: personal will and individual resources knitted together with neighbors in a fierce joint determination to procure survival not only for themselves and loved ones, but also for their place and their local civilization: to defend their homes and the ground on which they stand against whatever force evil might throw at them, and to be found standing when morning comes.
Get ready. Stock up on canned chili and fresh water. Buy and read "Lightning Fall: A Novel of Disaster" by Bill Quick.