For those interested in end of the world scenarios and depictions of man’s cruelty to man when personal survival is at stake, this one is for you. There is absolutely no sex. That is because everyone is focused on food. They are too tired for sex. And also everyone smells bad, so unless that is your fetish you are out of luck. But there is cannibalism. And even drinking of human blood by people who have no desire to become vampires. They just ran out of water. So all is not lost for those with twisted minds.
CyberStorm by Matthew Mather
This is a disaster novel, some might call it post-apocalyptic, but it is closer to reality than science fiction. Most readers will have an idea of the threat from the title; many will have heard snippets of news about the resultant widespread damage that would occur if such a storm were to be the result of a planned, concentrated attack. This novel has similarities to a movie The Perfect Storm in that Mather combines natural forces (a severe New York winter) with planned cyberattacks and even poorly planned spontaneous cyberattacks. To know the sources of the attacks, read the book.
Mather uses many characters who live in a New York apartment building to tell his story. Initially daunting in the number of characters, the reader should not abandon the book because it seems too difficult to keep track of everybody. The novel fairly quickly settles into the tales of principal, important characters.
Lauren is the attractive wife of Mike. She comes from a wealthy family and her parents are not too happy with Mike, not poor, but dedicated to being an entrepreneur. They feel she should have a career and she won’t have it with Mike. Lauren sort of feels the same; she feels trapped with son Luke. Her talks with another building resident, Richard, is misinterpreted by Mike as a possible affair in the making. The tale of Richard will lead to one of the early surprises in the novel.
Chuck and his wife Susie are good friends of Lauren and Mike; they also have a young child. These four will be the center of action throughout the novel. The way they interact with each other, the shifting of power at different times in different situations, make the story move.
This is a novel with warnings that we all may have heard before on CNN. Our characters will not follow CNN for long because the internet is one of the first things to go. Another is the nationwide transportation and logistical system. As is pointed out many times, inventory is replaced by an on demand system that relies on communications. When the stores in cities run out of things, shelves are not restocked because no requests are made. People get hungry and even thirsty because the computer controlled management systems to distribute water break down.
So somewhere we have to have a computer geek hero, Damon, who can provide some workarounds for at least minimal communication needs, such as text messaging. Damon plays a huge part in the novel to help our fearless foursome. He also provides interesting ideas to the technologically challenged reader. My favorite line from the novel comes from Damon “If you don’t pay for a product, then you are the product.” (Kindle Location 3604). To find out what that means, read the book.
Mather’s descriptions of the Russian survivors of Leningrad and how they interact in this novel is quite entertaining.
This is a story of how base human nature can become when survival is at stake. There is a continuing struggle on the part of many characters to show humanity to others in need. There is an ending I did not anticipate. It is not a spoiler to note that a lot of problem occurring throughout the tale are due to misperception on the part of the principal characters.
I will read more from this author.