Despite wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 9/11, the United States' dependence on foreign oil has kept the nation tied to the Middle East. A scientist has developed a cure for America's addiction-a slow-acting virus that feeds on petroleum, turning it solid. But he didn't consider that his contagion of an Iraqi oil field could spread to infect the fuel supply of the entire world… In Los Angeles, screenwriter Dave Marshall heard this scenario from a retired US marine and government insider who acted as a consultant on Dave's last film. It sounded as implausible as many of his scripts, but the reality is much more frightening than anything he could have envisioned. An ordinary guy armed with extraordinary information, Dave hopes his survivor's instinct will kick in so he can protect his wife and daughter from the coming apocalypse that will alter the future of Earth-and humanity…
The title of this molasses-paced story of global devastation is unfortunately apropos. Dave Marshall has advance notice of the rapid and unstoppable destruction of the world's oil reserves-originally the plot of Marshall's next movie script, but now horribly true. In a device familiar to readers of Greg Bear's Blood Music and Neal Stephenson's Zodiac, oil-eating bacteria intended for use in a single region spread across the globe. Marshall and his friends survive thanks to being rich and well-prepared, while chaos, starvation, and death happen off-screen and in poorer neighborhoods, remote to Marshall and the reader. Varley optimistically posits a postdisaster "Ecotopia" of happy communism and careful resource use that serves as a traumatizing but effective togetherness retreat for Marshall's family, saving his marriage and teaching his spoiled wife "a new appreciation for real values." Varley has thought hard about the myriad ways oil is vital to our entire infrastructure, but he never really gets excited about the consequences of its disappearance. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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August 27, 2013
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