Star’s Reach, A Novel of the Deindustrial Future, is John Michael Greer’s latest piece of Fiction. It’s a great read for anyone of the prepper persuasion. JMG is one of the original doomers in my mind. When I first started reading up on this whole prepper thing, his words were some that spoke most clearly to me and matched what I was seeing in the world around me. He continues to eloquently lay out the possible trajectories and the probable misfortunes that Americans are likely to see as our own little empire bites the dust in his weekly postings at The Archdruid Report. He stays true to that strength with this piece of fiction. No zombies, no motorcycle gangs or roving hoards of marauders. This is America, 400 years after our country dissolves into chaos and war and burning (which Greer puts in the 2100s.) The continent has about 10% of the population that it had before the Chaos Years. Many craftsmen mine ruins of the giant cities for the basic building materials of everyday life.
By Calamity Jane, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog
The continent has about 10% of the population that it had before the Chaos Years. Many craftsmen mine ruins of the giant cities for the basic building materials of everyday life. Some mine the ruins for something bigger, and more deadly. Greer paints a grand vision of the smaller, poorer ‘Merica‘ that’s left after the chaos. We get to meet everyone from the President down to the prentices.
The main protagonist is a Ruinman, as the miners are called. Like every Ruinman he is familiar with the myths and legends and strange realities that surround the ruins. Some go looking for a place called Star’s Reach, and most of those never return. Were the ancients talking to someone out there in the stars? Was that a dangerous technology, something that should be destroyed before it contributes to more wrecking of the air and water? Was it a way to understand what happened in the time of the Ancients so that the same mistakes could be avoided in the future? Who gets to decide those questions if it’s ever found?
The book is fast paced right from the start, with our unwitting apprentice dodging death, and finding a priceless clue that at once catapults him into the ranks of Master Ruinman and sends him on the quest of a lifetime. The characters are well fleshed out with interesting back stories. The world is interesting and full of very believable hazards, risks and rewards.
I’m a long term thinker, and while I do keep a good amount of food and other short term emergency preps, I also like to keep an eye on what I could be doing to set my family on the best course to ride out the years of chaos I think this country will face over the next 100 years. Family includes those that aren’t born yet, and those that I may never meet. The future story Greer tells, is one that can help steer a course between the competing narratives of “Technology is going to save everyone” and “Everyone is going to die.” These kinds of stories are invaluable in shaping a plan that steers the middle course between them. Did you like Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling? You’ll like this one. Did you think The Road ended too soon, were you left wondering, “What happens when they all settle down and start rebuilding?” You should give “Star’s Reach” a try.
I really liked this book, no dislikes to report from me. I will say though, if you like to pretend that climate change isn’t happening, or if depictions of strong moral characters who aren’t Christian bother you, you may not like large swaths of this book. In Greer’s future vision of America, the East Coast is nothing but ruins as far as the eye can see, marching into the ocean. Large swaths between the Rockies and the Mississippi Valley are desert. Some areas are radioactive, some areas are poisoned. In some respects the book could be depressing to those haven’t come to a full understanding of the possible hells our great-great’s will be facing.
This book is a great read. While there’s no one that can see what the future holds for us in detail, I think the future Greer paints with this story is entirely believable. This future is smack in the middle of the Probable Scenarios. If you’re in the acceptance stage of grief for our dying empire, or trying to get there, this book is great. No wild stories of technology saving the world as we know it or propelling us to a space colony where we can start over on a new world. No loner bands of survivors on a journey with no end. No long breathless reviews of various guns or gun-like paraphernalia. Just ordinary people trying to survive in the dangerous and depleted world we’re leaving for them. Ordinary people who take on a quest to find an extraordinary secret left by the ancients. Ordinary people trying to do what’s best for them and their families in the face of an incredible discovery. This book is full of the things that might survive, and that can be a valuable thing to keep in mind as our empire’s disintegration speeds up over the next few decades. Parts of our world will survive, people will survive, life will go on, even if it doesn’t resemble our current preferences for how that life plays out. Hanging on to the things/skills/ideas worth saving, is a worthwhile thing for today’s preppers to do. Helping to preserve the parts of our world that need preserving, can be a meaningful life’s work if you’re needing something like that for your sanity. This book can help you wrap your mind around what sorts of things you might like to lend your hands and mind to. And what sorts of things might survive the chaos and be helpful for the great-great’s who inhabit that far off time. Or it can just be a good adventure tale to read with your solar powered LED flashlight.
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