Creating new worlds, one story at a time

Category: electromagnetic pulse attack

Publishing update

It’s been a long time coming, but both Catherine’s Tale books are now out. Today is the publication of Catherine’s Tale Part 2 in ebook form (paperback will be out the end of this week). I’m putting the ebook on sale starting Monday at only $.99. It’s an action-packed conclusion to the intrigue built up in Catherine’s Tale Part 1. You’ll enjoy both stories; they are tightly knit together.
It has been about six months since I’ve done any solid creative writing. I’ve been busy reading and rewriting and more rewriting. Last week I had to face that fact that I needed to start my next book. Catherine’s Tale Parts 1 & 2 were done. My new thriller novel, Payback, was at the editor, so what was there to do? Write something.

So I sat down and started Jason’s Tale Part 2. When Catherine’s Tale came out many people around me asked why I switched from Jason to Catherine for my sequel. I didn’t have a good answer and, after doing Catherine justice with a good, two-part sequel, I decided I should heed their advice and go back to Jason before moving on to some of the other characters. I may or may not complete the story; it depends on you, the reader. If you want more of Jason and the other characters in that world, I’ve got a start on one of their stories. If not, I’ll shelve it for later.

But right now he’s off on another adventure, trying to rescue some friends, being true to his nature–the rescuer taking care of the flock. He’s got a partner, but I can’t say who it is at this point. My fears about getting back into creating a new story seemed to have been unfounded; I’m about 16,000 words into the story. That’s a good, solid start. My finished story should run in the 80,000 to 90,000 word range. The key is to write every day in order to keep the story fresh in my mind, not let the characters or plot go stale. I’m starting to dream of each next scene at night, then I get up and write it. It doesn’t always work that way, but I love it when it does. Just writing is important; like practicing one’s instrument if you’re a musician.

If I complete the story, I think I can get it out in October. My new editor turns work around in three to four weeks so I just have to get it to her by September. I’ll be busy this summer.
Please check out the two Catherine’s Tales on Amazon and leave a review if you like them. If you don’t send me an email. I’m not offended and have gained some insight from some critiques.

A prepper question from the baby boom generation

A reader asked whether or not there was a place for older, less mechanically skilled people in prepper groups; or are they on their own. It’s a good question.  I spent some time looking across the internet on prepper sites. Some had contact forms, so I asked that question. The answers I received showed me a couple of things. First, is that preppers are generally nice people; all the replies I received were polite and considerate. Second, I found that this question has no clear answer.  Most replies centered around the idea that everyone has something to contribute, even older people and that character is what is most important in prepper communities.  That latter point makes sense when you think about a small group of people getting together when society is falling apart.

So the answer is really individual in nature; there’s no fixed formula here. I confess that I’m not a prepper, but a post apocalyptic world interests me as an author. Two websites that I think are worth checking out are: http://survivingprepper.com/ and http://www.americanpreppersonline.com/. Surviving Prepper has a handy list of prepper links that can quickly steer you to many different sites having to do with prepping. The second one has a bulletin board where you can post (and read posts) about people looking to join or add to a survival group.

It is an interesting world I’ve come to know about through writing Jason’s Tale.  You can read some of my thoughts about in my earlier blog, “Thoughts on Post Apocalyptic Literature. The sequel, Catherine’s Tale is getting closer to publication. It is much more complex a story which I hope will be an enjoyable read.

In the end we each have to choose. If one prepares, one risks having people try to take what you have away. If one doesn’t prepare, one is certainly going to suffer. In the end, the ability to have minimal supplies to support you and your family for even a few days or weeks makes some sense. Such preparation is useful for any kind of emergency, not even of the apocalyptic level. And the ability to defend loved ones is a natural instinct and one you may not want to avoid or suppress.

For a real apocalypse, a basic plan would make sense. For me, living near a very large city, it makes sense to figure out how to get out of town safely. Large cities are going to become dangerous places; I’m convinced of that. Out in the country you have a chance, both to be safe and to find food. Shelter may have to be up to your ingenuity. As Douglas Adams said, “Don’t panic”.

Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) and Its Effects

Since my novel, After the Fall: Jason’s Tale, takes place after an EMP attack on the United States, I thought it might be good to write about what our experts in Washington think about this threat.

E1-E2-E3: First, the bones of an EMP: there are three parts to the “pulse”, cleverly labeled E1, E2 and E3. E1 is the shortest pulse and consists of gamma rays. They travel at nearly the speed of light. Their danger is that they hit electrical circuits so fast that surge protectors cannot react in time to block them. They disable the surge protectors and cause some damage to the electronics downstream, mostly semi-conductors. The E2 pulse lasts longer, but still well under a second, and it has unimpeded entry into electronic circuits whose surge protectors are now disabled, completing the damage, shutting down most electronics. The E3 pulse is the final round, lasting up to hundreds of seconds. It has a long wave length and couples to long distance power transmission lines following them and burning out power stations and transformers on the grid. An EMP burst couldn’t be better designed to do maximum damage to a society’s power and transportation infrastructure.

Sun attacks: We get EMP attacks from our sun via “coronal mass ejections”.  We’re protected from most of their effects by the earth’s magnetic shield. However the threat posed, as in my and other stories, by a nuclear induced EMP attack is real and our magnetic shielding won’t protect us.  The scenario may be attractive to many rogue regimes as you don’t have to precisely target a city and you can do more wide spread damage. As in my novel, the terrorists at first don’t like the idea; they want to see fire and death rain down from the sky, but they are won over by the vision of the U.S. “dying from within” as society collapses.

Food: Think about it; our cities have approximately a three day supply of food. Grocery stores and their food delivery systems are a modern marvel. We get a bewildering array of choices, mostly year around, ever replenished in a three day cycle, thus insuring a constant flow of perishable items. Now take away the delivery system; modern trucks stop running, trains stop running, planes stop flying.

The first casualty of the breakdown in our transportation system would be food supplies (next would probably be gas). Cities would quickly run out as people made a run on the grocery stores. Add to this situation the fact that credit cards don’t work anymore. How many of us have sufficient amounts of cash on hand to make necessary purchases, even if we can fight through the crowds to find the goods?

No Information: So we have no food being delivered and no credit cards being accepted. Now let’s add in the loss of electricity and communications. We don’t have lights, we can’t call anyone and we don’t get informed about what is going on—no television, radio or internet. In modern disasters, there is generally some form of communication by which the authorities can let the population know what’s happened and direct them in how to respond. The sense of isolation would be terrifying to many; local officials, when found, would have no better idea of what happened and what was being done about it than anyone else.

Hospitals would be out of action; their backup generators, conveniently integrated into their electrical systems, would have been damaged. No lights means surgeries would have to be done under flashlight, if the hospital had any. Medicines would soon be in short supply. People with diabetes might be the first to suffer without a supply of insulin, but others would soon succumb.

Breakdown: I don’t mean to depress my readers, but you can see that it is not hard to project an apocalyptic vision from the above. How long could our society remain cohesive? The density of our cities is made possible only by the infrastructure that would now be disabled. How long would we remain friendly to and supportive of each other? How soon would hunger and fear drive us to desperate action? Not to mention those in society who already tend to live on the edge of the law. We may find there are many more sociopaths as well as psychopaths amongst us than we want to believe. And many would be driven to such behavior out of a belief that aggression is needed for survival. Survival for most people would drive out most other feelings.

90% Casualties: This is grist for an author’s mill. For my novel, I have drawn the most severe picture. I have an electrical engineer friend who doesn’t think it would be as bad as I describe (but that doesn’t make for as good a story). The army has some “hardened” systems so it wouldn’t be completely disabled. Still James Woolsey, former CIA Director, in an August 12, 2014 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, points out that the EMP Commission (whatever that is/was) concluded in 2008 that within 12 months of such an attack 90% of the U.S. population could be dead. Even if that estimate is way off base, 50% of the U.S. population dying would be catastrophic.

So clearly an EMP attack is great fodder for a novelist, but it is also a real and present threat. This threat has been recognized by our current administration, but no one seems to be in any hurry to address it. Woolsey’s editorial pointed out that protecting the country’s national grid (which would keep the power on, even if transportation were shut down) would cost 2 billion dollars, about what we give Pakistan a year in foreign aid. Something to think about; meanwhile, the subject provides fertile soil in which to sow stories.

Would you be able to survive the collapse of society?  Would you want to? Let me know your thoughts.

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