Tag Archives: science fiction

ONE SECOND AFTER Is Turning Me Into A Prepper

OK, so I’ve seen the reality shows about preppers and I always thought they were a little crazy. Prepping for what? The zombie apocalypse seemed highly unlikely, and even economic collapse didn’t seem likely the way international support works these days.

Well, One Second After answered that question for me in a big way. Without giving too much away, the premise is that an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) hits the United States. For those of you who don’t know what that is, the important thing is all modern electronics manufactured after a certain time period stop working, unless they have been protected from EMP, which hardly anything is.

The protagonist has two daughters, which I do as well, albeit his are a little older. I hadn’t been reading for too long before the story really got inside my head.

If it happened while I was at work, how would I get home? I was so off my game I couldn’t even think how to get home, since I usually catch the train (which wouldn’t be running), and I wouldn’t have a phone, or a GPS, or anything, and it was only when I told my husband I would have to follow the train tracks that he reminded me of course I know the way—I do drive to work from time to time. Oh yeah.

But I would still have to walk. That’s a two, maybe three day hike, depending on weather, terrain, supplies, and my general stamina. I can do that, no problem, and I have my runners at work, so I have appropriate footwear. If it’s winter, though, it could get chilly overnight. And there’s a big tunnel on the M5 Motorway, a big, dark tunnel, on account of there being no lights. Maybe I should be keeping a big torch at work?

And then assuming I made it home, would anyone else be here? Where would my kids be? Would they have been at school or at home with their nanny? And if the latter, what would she have done when the power went out? OK, that doesn’t even bear thinking on…

So, assuming I am home, what does that mean and what do we need? I already know how to filter water. I can grow food. I know the potatoes in the cupboard say “not for growing”, but they do sprout. Maybe I should plant one and see what it does? What about meat? Well, I can handle animals, but no idea how to hunt, slaughter or butcher anything. Maybe I should Google it, print it, and keep it somewhere….

Transport? Well, no cars, but there’s a horse agistment place down the road, and I can ride. I even have my own horse gear in the garage—two bridles, one saddle, two halters, two leadropes, a few other bits and pieces. Note to self: prioritise riding lessons for the girls. I should probably pack the lunge rein too—who knows how long since the horse has been ridden, depending on how fast we get there, and whether the horse we grab has been ridden regularly or not.

Well, OK, so maybe my imagination got carried away—unsurprising, since I am a fantasy author. But my main point is the book is compelling, it crawls inside your head and it makes you ask what-if. Maybe I’m not a prepper just yet—but I am wondering what basic survival skills I need that I don’t have!

Check the book out. Here’s a little more about One Second After by William R Forstchen:

The story of one town’s survival over the course of a year, after attacks on the United States and parts of Europe leave much of the world in chaos. Nuclear weapons exploded in the upper atmosphere above the U.S. create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that wipes out all electronics – in one second. Electrical outlets, cars and trucks, internet, phones, television, refrigeration — things we take for granted in the 21st century — no longer work. Food becomes scarce, as do life-saving medicines and other staples of modern life.

John Masterson, a college professor in a small North Carolina town, works with the local police to organize his neighbors, ration available food and other supplies, and create a local army to guard the town’s borders against the increasingly violence of roving, desperate bands. Terrible decisions involving life and death come in to play as the country falls into chaos. Masterson and town leaders struggle to keep their own people alive in the midst of this escalating nightmare.

Club Fantasci Discusses The Daedalus Incident by Michael J Martinez

Here it is, the long-awaited September Hangout for Club Fantasci where we discuss The Daedalus Incident by Michael J Martinez. We also farewell Dionne Lister, who is sadly departing.

We were initially delayed by technical difficulties (I have ongoing internet problems thanks to a heartless telecommunications company) and then Dionne and I were overseas. We managed to get this one working, but again due to technical issues, we had to switch from G+ Hangout to Skype, and while everything seemed fine at the time, now the recording has our lips and voices out of sync *sigh*. Nothing is ever easy… We do apologise for the quality on this one. Don’t even talk to me about the dramas I had getting my microphone to work, which resulted in a headset and a desire to smash something!

Michael J Martinez is absolutely lovely, and his books rock. If you haven’t read The Daedalus Incident already, go out and buy it now, and keep an eye out for The Enceladus Crisis, coming in (northern hemisphere) fall. Oh, and follow him on Twitter – @mikemartinez72

On a sad note, I must announce that I have been forced to decide to leave Club Fantasci. My husband is part of the bushfire division of our National Parks department, and has been more or less absent for the last 4 weeks fighting the Sydney bushfires, and I don’t even have enough time to manage two kids and still work my job. Reading and writing has more or less fallen by the wayside, and I just don’t have the time to commit (which is at least part of the reason it was November before we did the September review…). That being the case, it’s just not fair for me to remain with the club.

I may be able to revisit my options once the bushfire season is over.

Roughly how my technology has made me feel lately!

Why I Originally Liked Falling Skies Better Than The Walking Dead

Don’t shoot me! I always liked The Walking Dead, but my fondness for the show grew rapidly at the beginning of Season 3.

Before that, while I enjoyed the storylines, watching it was sometimes an exercise in frustration for me. So many people doing so many stupid things. Mostly characters who are dead now. And you know why they are dead now? Because they did stupid things!

Well, that’s natural selection for you, but with my disposition and low tolerance for stupidity, it wasn’t my idea of entertainment. My long-suffering husband had to endure hours of my rants, or screaming at the TV.

‘Take someone with you!’

‘Don’t wander off in the dark alone – I don’t care if you need to pee.’

‘Where is your gun? Where the hellis your gun, moron?’

‘Oh my god, why are you letting that kid wander off alone? This isn’t a playground!’

Eventually these explosions evolved into a reorganisation of the survivors by yours truly – if only Rick had listened to me sooner, he might have made it out with more people alive.

Of course, then my husband had to listen to me wax lyrical about how I’d be running my band of zombie survivors.

I may not be able to fight. I’ve never shot a gun. I’m short, so I probably can’t run that fast, and god forbid I would have to ditch my heels – a sacrifice I grudgingly admit I would make in the interests of survival. God dammit, why can’t one be an efficient zombie survivor and look stylish?

But assuming I managed to survive the initial zombie onslaught using my brain, I’d be organising the hell out of my band of survivors, and you bet I’d be the one running the show. There’d be a buddy system. No wandering off alone, especially at night. In fact, no wandering around at all without a good reason. Everyone would be armed with something. There’d be guards posted.

Ah hell, I forget now a lot of the stuff I said. I’d have to watch it all again.

I know that people were getting used to the idea that humanity was no longer top dog, but hell, we are the mostadaptable species on the planet. That’s why we survive. And most of Rick’s little group weren’t doing a good job of demonstrating that – although they were doing a good job of demonstrating what happens if you don’t adapt.

You die.

At the time, Falling Skies appealed to me more because the characters in that show got it. They immediately understood they were no longer top of the food chain, and they were organising themselves to deal with that situation as best they could. They were mounting guards. They were armed. They expected something to jump out of the shadows and try and kill them at any moment. They were treating life like a hostile situation, not a jaunt in the woods, and consequently far fewer of them died.

They were smart. I liked them.

Then of course at the end of Season 2 of The Walking Dead, Rick basically declared it was his way or the highway, and that’s when things got better. At the opening of Season 3, the survivors were finally behaving the way I thought they should have been from the beginning. Better late than never, I guess, although for some of the original characters late was too late…

Season 4 has started, and I’m still waiting to watch it because my husband is working long hours out at the Sydney bushfires, and we’ve had no time together to catch up on TV. So the episodes just stack up on the DVR… eventually I’ll get to watch them.

What do you like about The Walking Deador Falling Skies, or how do they compare for you if you watch both of them? Yes I know they are different things, zombies, aliens, blah blah blah. It’s all sci-fi, and both these shows are post-apocalyptic dystopian stories.

Just, don’t talk to me about Season 4 of The Walking Dead.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: A Review by Ciara Ballintyne

What would you do if the fate of the world hung on a child, aged six? Would you make the hard decisions to subject the child to the trials necessary to give that child the capabilities, together with natural intelligence, to actually save the world? Could you?

Earth has been twice invaded by giant insectoid aliens. Casualties were horrific. We were outnumbered and outgunned. The first time we nearly lost. The second time we were saved by the genius tactician Mazer Rackham. Now we are preparing for the third invasion, and while our technology has advanced, so will have the ‘buggers’. Our hopes rest on a pre-emptive strike to the buggers’ homeworld, but we have no commander.

Ender is a Third – a third child in a world where couples are allowed only two. The government had great hopes for his older brother, Peter, but found him too cruel, too ambitious, to lead their fleet. Their hopes switched to his sister, but she was too gentle, and so, in hopes of a child with the qualities of both Peter and Valentine, the government authorised the birth of Ender.

Monitored almost since birth, Ender is taken from his parents at the age of six and sent to a school for talented children destined for great careers in the space fleet. While they make no secret of the fact they hope he will command the fleet in the attack against the buggers’ homeworld, Ender is subjected to incredible pressure in order to force him to learn to think his way out of almost any impossible scenario.

The majority of the training at the Battle School is mock training in zero gravity conditions between groups of other students, where tactics more than brute strength rule the day. Isolated, friendless, and made a target for bullies, Ender nevertheless demonstrates his ability to out think almost any adversary, defeating enemies or making them his allies. Each time he rises to the top, the instructors change the odds, change the stakes, and make the situation almost impossible for him to win.

He is advanced ahead of his age, made to prove his value to the older students, and then, when he does, he inevitably alienates some. When he gains acceptance, he is pulled out of his unit, made the commander of his own unit, and left to sink or swim with too many rookie ‘soldiers’. When he nevertheless turns them into an effective fighting force, the odds are stacked against him when the instructors stage daily battles, and then twice daily battles, instead of allowing the usual rest period.

While the training seems nothing short of cruel, and some of the instructors express concerns they may ‘break’ or ‘ruin’ Ender, if one looks closely you realise that the training is nothing more or less than actual simulated battle conditions. There is no mandatory rest period between battles in war. There is no guarantee that one will always have the upper hand, or that one will always have the best soldiers. A commander must make the most of what he has to still produce victory, and it is this for which Ender is actually being trained.

Will he succeed? At the age of eleven, is he capable of leading a space fleet to war… and winning? Should he even be placed in that position, made responsible for the lives of soldiers? While I, as a mother, mourn the loss of the childhood he never had, I can recognise that Ender’s youth makes him more flexible, more durable, than an adult might be. He comes with no pre-conceptions, no skills or beliefs to be unlearned, and has that resilience so common to children. While an adult might break under the pressure, a child may only bend, and so Ender bends, and is moulded into the tool that is needed.

But the moral question remains. Should a child be taken and moulded into a tool, at great personal expense of that child? Can such actions be justified to save the whole of humanity?


But what if you don’t even know if the enemy is coming? What if, maybe, the enemy has learned the error of its ways and has no intention of invading and attacking enemy space? What if it is now us who are the invaders?

I thoroughly enjoyed the direction in which the book led me, the questions it posed, and sharing Ender’s journey and personal dilemmas. While the book is written, at times, ‘simplistically’, and employs ‘telling’ in some cases instead of ‘showing’, it appears from the introduction that Orson Scott Card did this deliberately, believing it made the book more accessible to a wider audience. Perhaps he was right, and perhaps the style of narrative was appropriate for a protagonist aged between six and eleven anyway.

While not the usual type of book I read, I ripped through Ender’s Game in two days, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to read more in the Ender series in the near future. Highly recommended.

Ender’s Game: Review by Club Fantasci

Ender's Game: Review by Club Fantasci
Club Fantasci met last weekend to discuss both the March Book of the Month – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. You can watch the discussion of co-hosts David Lowry, Dionne Lister, Kriss Morton and myself below.

You can find our full reviews of the books here on the Club Fantasci website.

April’s Book of the Month is The Glass Demon by Helen Grant and the Hangout will take place on April 26th at 7:30pm CST.