Friday, December 07, 2012

Book Review: A Distant Eden

As a longtime fan of the SHTF/post-apocalyptic fiction genre I decided to give the book A Distant Eden by Lloyd Tackett a try when I saw that I could get the Kindle edition for $0.99.

I wasted a buck.

The author attempted to write a survival manual in the guise of a novel, and to his credit, states this in the forward. Unfortunately for a survival manual, it is full of inaccuracies, bad advice, and warped ethics.

To begin with, the book offers poor advice about firearms, tactics, nutrition, and water purification. E.g.:

  • Some of the gun-related content sounds like ad copy from Gunz & Blammo.
  • What the author refers to as complete foodstuffs will result in a variety of deficiency diseases. E.g., pellagra
  • After a short training period by a handful of special ops soldiers, the good guys go attack a fortified encampment held by superior numbers of armed men. Did I mention that one of the uber-elite special ops types kills the Numba One Bad Guy in a planned duel? Or that the good guys take no casualties?
  • The water purification methods in the book are better than nothing but depending on the locale may not be enough to prevent infection by various parasites.

The effects of a solar electromagnetic pulse (EMP) aren't portrayed accurately. Without getting into detail here, I recommend that you start reading about EMP here. (Make sure to follow the links at the bottom of the linked page.)

The almost immediate descent into savagery as portrayed in the book doesn't mirror how people have responded to massive regional disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. Certainly, plenty of people will take advantage of the situation (e.g., looting during the 1977 New York City black out) but it will take a lot longer for societal breakdown on the scale described in the book. Take for example the aftermaths of the EMP-induced power failure in Quebec in 1989, the 2003 Northeast US power outage, or various ice storms through the American South in recent years.

But perhaps the worst part of the book is the ethical system embraced by the protagonists and apparently endorsed by the author. At one point in the book, the "good guys" ambush and kill a poacher because he's taken a deer on private property to feed his wife and child. The justification for this is that by killing the deer, the poacher has taken food from the protagonists' childrens' mouths. He then goes on to kill the poacher's wife and kid because they are now without a protector, and portrays killing them as a mercy.


Shortly thereafter, the same protagonist spares a different poacher, but only does so after determining that he's a Christian. Because, you know, only Christian people are worth sparing.

To repeat myself, REALLY?!?

How 13th Century.

There is some good, independently published survival fiction out there like David Crawford's Light's Out or Thomas Sherry's Deep Winter. That A Distant Eden received a bunch of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon is a testament to how ignorant many people are.

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