I enjoy science fiction. Let me clarify. Really good, classic or soon-to-be classic science fiction. I’m talking H. G. Wells, Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury kind of science fiction.
It all started with Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” And then it was short stories by Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson. Or “Dune” or “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Even “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I was hooked.
And I liked that while most of what I read seemed so very real, it wasn’t – really. After all, it was science fiction.
And then a friend lent me “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. I knew, a chapter in, that I probably shouldn’t finish it. I knew it would be disturbing. I resented the scare tactic forward by Newt Gingrich and the “Not If It Will Happen But When Will It Happen” afterward by Captain Bill Sanders of the US Navy. I’m not convinced that this is a classic in the making. It’s an easy, straight forward read, sure. Yet there is not much depth to the writing style. There are some (hopefully) typos.
But intriguing? Yes.
Like a nasty car wreck on the side of the road, I couldn’t NOT look. I finished it in two sittings. And when I finished? I was glad I hadn’t read it just before bedtime.
But almost seven hours after finishing it, I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t help wondering if, God forbid, my children or even I might experience something this horrific in my lifetime.
When I was in my teens, AIDS was being realized as more than just a “gay disease.” I remember talking to my dad and asking what was the point of bringing more children into such a depressing world. My father smiled and said, “In my day, it was polio. In yours, it’s AIDS. For your children, it will be something else. Life always finds a way to move on.”
So, upon finishing “One Second After” I think, OK. It was “War of the Worlds” back in the 50’s. Today, it is “One Second After.” For my children? Something else?
Apocalyptic thinking is not my style. I don’t have canned goods, bottled water and ammo in my basement. But this book has me thinking I should.
And then I shake some good sense back in my head.
I can not live a life based on fear. I can’t plot each day, imagining each horrible scenario that could be avoided and take the proper precautions.
But I wear a seatbelt. I have insurance. I take my vitamins.
What is reasonable preparation for the worst and what is going overboard?
Bomb shelters in the 50’s. Preparedness or overboard?
My brother-in-law with stock piles of water, canned goods and ammo in his basement? Is he prepared or just crazy?
Well, at least I know where to run should the apocalypse come.