THE DISQUIET SURVIVORS of The Nuclear Catastrophe by Barbara Billig
Please note that the author is currently changing the name of this book from A Nuclear Catastrophe to that above. The print book is done and the eBook will follow shortly.
Every so often you come across a book that you can’t put down; you just want to know what happens over on the next page. I warn you, this is one of those. It is also a story that is very relevant today considering the events in Japan earlier this year.
The writing drags you into the pages as the characters fight to survive the aftermath of a massive explosion at the White Water Nuclear Plant in Southern California following a fairly minor earth tremor. Barbara has done what one of my favourite authors of all time, Leon Uris, has done, taken solid fact and cleverly crafted an excellent fictional story around it, faction as I call it. Leon Uris used history, Barbara science. By the way I checked out the science and worryingly it is all factual.
Not that the science gets in the way of this troubling story. It is used fleetingly to explain, in layman’s terms, the dangers that follow the release of massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere following a blast. A modern nuclear facility can release fifty times more radiation into the atmosphere than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of WW II. That’s how serious this problem is.
As the reality of their situation dawns on the victims of the fallout then Barbara introduces ever more problems for the characters to face. You can’t drink the water, because it is radioactive. Hospitals close their doors to new patients for fear of contaminating those already in the facility. I won’t spoil it any more but the list goes on.
One of the worst aspects of their situation is the complete lack of a co-ordinated rescue plan by the authorities. Well why prepare for something that can never happen? Like all politicians and those in authority they never seem to learn from history. The likes of 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl immediately spring to mind and of course more recently the terrible disaster in Fukushima, Japan.
Looking at politicians and their lack of understanding of the importance of history you need look no further than the conflict in Afghanistan as a prime example. The British were fighting there over a hundred years ago, the Russians tried and now the USA and Britain again. Political expediency in the USA and Britain means the troops will pull out before the job is done and the Taliban will be back in power before too long. Why did we go there in the first place? Do the powers that be never learn?
This isn’t an easy read, but you know it was never going to be, the subject is far too important. For all that it is a very good story, one that needed telling and one that should be made compulsory reading for all political leaders who are considering building more nuclear power stations. Perhaps it should be compulsory reading for all our youth also, so they can become aware of the dangers and take up the fight against this menace.
Barbara Billig is obviously passionate about this subject and this comes across in her writing. You will be swept away from the first page. Barbara must also be a keen observer of people, throughout the story her characters come to life with subtle little flicks of the hand, a look in the mirror and much more.
This is a thoroughly good read, an important story, not to be missed.
My Rating 5 out of 5.