Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Set mostly in America, after something known only as The Event, "Dies The Fire" follows an array of characters struggling to survive after technology stops working. This book was a terrible disappointment. I had heard so many good things about it, and the setting seemed so interesting, but Stirling's execution and overly dramatic prose make this a difficult read. The dialogue simply does not ring true, and neither do his characters. At first I thought the novel was a satire of the post-apocalyptic genre, in which case it may not have been half bad. A third of the way through, however, I realized that Stirling was serious about this novel. There are other issues with the book as well. There are simply too many Wiccan characters, and far too many of the survivors are Renaissance Fair enthusiasts. I also found many of his assumptions about the setting to be poorly thought out.
For instance, the author spends far too much time lecturing to his audience. His characters seem to be little more than vehicles for conveying his own idiosyncratic world view, and his poor understanding of combat and fighting. This was without a doubt, the worst novel I read in the past five years.
Submitted by Anonymous
I actually read the second book in the series, "The Protector's War", without realizing that it was part of a series. I enjoyed it and found the first, "Dies The Fire", by chance looking through the shelves at the local library. That said, with all it's flaws, this is a really interesting idea and a very good story. In short; something along the lines of an electromagnetic pulse, but amplified, occurs worldwide. It knocks out all machinery and electronics but also causes chemical reactions, like combustability, to have varying effects. No electronics, no engines, no firearms, no explosives. Chaos ensues, mass starvation (and a certain amount of cannabilism and plague) and the various groups of survivors seem to be medievel recreationists, organic farmers and those with a decidedly Wiccan bent, as well as some folks just tougher than average, like a former Marine and some British SAS troops.
The book has lots of flaws. There's a high level of suspension of disbelief at times and he can be a bit long-winded, yes. However, the story is riveting, the details interesting.