Supervolcano: All Fall Down
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464811
Date: 04 December 2012 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The fallout from the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano has turned the central part of the U.S. into a wasteland. Those who got out are trapped in camps, land can't be tilled, and the world is getting colder. As things slowly go downhill, the Ferguson family is in the front lines.
Colin Ferguson has a steady job, but a mystery killer is still on the loose. The murderer strikes old ladies that live alone. The murderer is careful to leave no major clues. The DNA that has been found is not in any database. Each murder strikes a little more fear into the hearts of Southern California. Each week that pass also sees resources slowly dwindle.
Colin's wife, Kelly, because she was there when the volcano blew, is now one of the foremost experts on the events related to the eruption. Even though things are tight, she and Colin are due to have their first child together.
Marshall Ferguson has graduated. Now comes the hard part, finding a job. He is selling a few stories, but it isn't enough to live. So he has to help his mother by babysitting his half-brother while Louise is working. Even having a job to start with, is no guarantee. As the economic slump worsens, more companies are forced to close. Finding a new job isn't easy even for those with experience.
Rob is still in Maine with the rest of the Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles. The first winter has bonded the group with the small tight knit group of Guilford. The members of the band are setting roots and enjoying their self-sufficiency.
Vanessa Miller is trapped in one of the relocation camps. In the camp, she finds out a universal truth about being trapped. Sometimes you end up doing things that you never thought you would. She does them to survive and finally to escape. On her way back to Southern California, she meets the next man she thinks she loves. And once again she doesn't make the best choice.
Bryce Miller, Vanessa's ex, has also graduated. He takes several jobs he doesn't love to make money. Hoping for a break that will allow him to work in the field he loves, but there are few calls for Classic's teachers especially those with an obscure poetry specialization.
The second volume of the Super Volcano series is a classic Turtledove view the world through the eyes of the little people story. Society is on a long slow decline. The cooling weather and loss of a lot of the best crop land in the world is going to cause more problems going forward. Nevertheless, people still wake up, work, and love. The struggles of the Ferguson clan are America writ small. As the second novel of a series it is not the best entry point for new readers.
I am enjoying this series. It walks the line between alternate history and near future ecothriller. The eruption of super volcanoes has been seen in the historical record. The years without summer from smaller eruptions nearly broke less intertwined cultures. Modern civilization would be devastated by this type of event. Another novel I read this month, Bronze Summer by Stephen Baxter, had a volcanic eruption that causes famine at the end of the Bronze Age.
I am looking forward to seeing how the Ferguson's survive the coming action in book three. It is a good thing the Harry is so prolific a writer. That way his fans never have to wait too long for the next volume of any series.