View Full Version : One Second After - A post-EMP novel by William Forstchen

04-20-2011, 11:17 AM
Has anyone read this (http://www.amazon.com/One-Second-After-William-Forstchen/dp/0765317583)? It takes place in a small North Carolina town following an EMP event that knocks out power and all electronics. I just finished it yesterday and I found it to be entertaining and thought provoking, though pretty dismal.

I have some thoughts that I'll share, but I'd like to hear others' reactions first.

Notwithstanding the plot, the editing was very poor to the point that it routinely distracted me and pulled me out of the story.

04-20-2011, 12:02 PM
Is someone "pushing" this book? Its Amazon page has 639 reviews (!) That's a lot, even for a book that hit #11 on the NYT bestseller list (and which, I must admit, I've never heard of).

It's got a foreword by Newt Gingrich, which is going to put some people off. Judging from the reviews, it gets some facts about the EMP wrong, despite an afterword on the topic. I predict a cultural divide on this work. But i do agree that EMP has a potential for impressive damage, which probably won't be fully appreciated by most unless some EMP effect actually occurs in the Real World.

04-20-2011, 01:56 PM
I think his politics got in the way of the story. I don't think a community would be so isolationist even in the scenario depicted and I really didn't think it was credible that even local government would completely crumble. It's been a while since I read it so I don't remember all the specific details but by the end it just wasn't ringing true for me and I usually love postapoc fiction. I don't have a bone to pick with the politics but I think it needed a lighter touch.

The main character definitely comes off as some kind of ultimate libertarian Mary Sue.

I consider myself a liberal (maybe even a little libertarian-curious) and I actually enjoyed Newt's intro. If I recall correctly he basically says that that an EMP attack is possible and we should be prepared to respond.

04-20-2011, 02:33 PM
It was crap. Let me count the way...

1. EMP devices don't work the way they're depicted in the book.
2. The whole town goes from "kumbaya" to "roving bands of rapists" in a few hours.
3. It shouldn't take a year for the military to appear when the middle states are fine and so is England and most of the rest of Europe.
4. The main characters don't remember that bikes aren't affected by EMPs until halfway through the book.
5. Etc. etc. etc.

04-20-2011, 02:49 PM
Two small positives:

Setting is in a real small southern town/city, close to where I live, so that was fun to read about.

I really enjoy PA themes, and find it interesting to read about variants on them just about every time I can.

Two MAJOR negatives:

I could have done better editing with a sharpie and a 1985 computer. It was TERRIBLY edited. Copy editing, content editing, language abuse (especially the overuse of some particular expressions and "fillers"), internal contradictions, the whole nine yards. The publishing house should be ashamed of themselves.

The politics and personal social opinions are overwhelming and detract massively from the book. I don't mind people having an opinion or a slant or a bias, but when you're reading a work of fiction and the plotlines and characters and ideas become subsumed to the author's tangental ideaology - that gets really old, really quick.

04-20-2011, 05:03 PM
I love reading PA fiction, zombie related or not, and I checked this book out after hearing about it on a PA fiction message board. I read the inside cover blurb, opened the book, read the first two pages (not the preface), closed it, and took it back to the library. What a waste of a potentially good plot device, and the book seemed to be nothing more than a vehicle to further an agenda.

04-21-2011, 06:07 AM
I read it when it came out, and I may have finished it? I don't really remember. (What can I say, I'm apparently a glutton for punishment (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=603288).)

1) As others have said, the author's politics were far to obvious in the book. I don't care if an author has specific views and includes them in their work of fiction. But I don't need to be pounded over the head with them at every turn.

2) The book fails the "show, don't tell" concept. There's too much description of how people think and feel, and not enough of readers understanding based on what they do and how they react.

3) Bad editing.

4) Good concept, poor execution. I like a good post-apocalyptic tale as much as the next person, but this was so poorly written and edited that the base story didn't develop into something I wanted to know about.

If you really want to read about the potential destructiveness of EMP I'd actually recommend Strieber's Warday & the Journey Onwards (http://www.amazon.com/Warday-Journey-Onwards-Whitley-Strieber/dp/0340366494/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303383970&sr=1-1) about a limited nuclear war between the US and USSR that included bombs to generate EMP exploded over the US.

04-21-2011, 09:22 AM
My thoughts are pretty much in line with the general consensus of the thread. While I like the premise and managed to find moments of entertainment, the technical issues were just appalling. Repeat segments, mis-gendered pronouns, "could of", "should of"; I wanted to pull a red pen out and start marking it up. The publisher should be ashamed that this ever went to press. Forstchen's characters are paper thin and I often found myself confused about who was who since they all speak the same way. I also found the author's obvious political interjections to be distracting and in no way relevant to the story or already weak character development.

All that said, as an already preparedness-minded individual, it did get me thinking more about the effects of long term power outage with possible loss of all electronics. So, I guess the probable intent of the author, to promote awareness of EMP risks, was served, but very awkwardly.

I actually laughed out loud at the description of the Posse's leader. Scar faced, drug dealing, Satan worshiping cannibal. Wow... just wow. He was probably a liberal too!

An Gadaí
05-30-2011, 03:28 PM
I was thinking of picking this up then searched here for a thread about it. Sorta glad I didn't bother!

05-30-2011, 05:35 PM
I was thinking of picking this up then searched here for a thread about it. Sorta glad I didn't bother!

I'd recommend "Lights Out" instead. I'm on my phone so I ant link and I don't remember the author. The same premise: EMP but it doesn't seem as unrealistic. There aren't any roving bands of cannibals, the government doesn't completely disappeared etc etc.

05-30-2011, 06:44 PM
If you like that genre, you might like:
World Made By Hand (http://www.amazon.com/World-Made-James-Howard-Kunstler/dp/0802144012/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306799056&sr=8-1)

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