Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Sci-Fi / Post-apocalyptic
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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“Daniel teaches a variety of writing courses at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in digital media studies at the University of Central Florida, and his stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies.
He lives near Florida's Intracoastal Waterway with his wife, Jeanne, and his daughter, Lyla. He enjoys fishing the tidal creeks of Duval County from atop his kayak, and you can often find him running the haunted trails and oyster mounds of the Timucuan Preserve.”
To get in touch with Daniel or learn about future projects, please visit his website.
The story opens at The Super Bowl in Jacksonville, FL. During the game, the Jumbotron feed is interrupted by news of a series of nuclear attacks on major American cities. The story follows Benjamin’s escape and his subsequent life as he copes after a nuclear holocaust.
I particularly enjoyed how the story opened. Beginning with the apocalypse, as the author did, was a little unusual. Normally stories in this genre take place after the fact, and the tragedy that gave rise to the post-apocalyptic world is referred to in back story. But the events were so recent that the way Benjamin dealt with the nuclear winter, and the suggestions of lawlessness and new social order sucked me in—made me wonder how I’d handle the situation. I was rooting for him, and sympathetic with the hard and cruel choices he and others had to make in order to survive.
The sub-plot—that the explosions were planned in order to “Reset” a society that had become exclusive (financially and racially), grated on me a little. At times it got a little preachy for my taste. Also, the technology surrounding the bombs and the way they were deployed seemed convoluted to this reader.
But the action scenes, and the time spent at “the miracle farm” were thoroughly entertaining, and I read late into the night on those scenes. The cast of characters were convincing and engaging. Overall, I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
A few typos--not enough to detract from the story.
Some violent scenes later in the story (callous brutality and cannibalism) might not suit some chicken-hearted readers (like me).
Rating: **** Four stars