2020 is a perfect year to read this book. Lately, we’ve been getting a practical demonstration of Murphy’s Law in action, as well as the importance of preparing for a major disaster, and Fan Plan is an alternative history of just such a disaster: a meteor strikes the Yellowstone Caldera, setting in motion a chain reaction with the potential to create a super-volcano that will destroy life on earth.
Computers at the TransGlobal Oil corporation project the catastrophic results, and so the family that owns the company begins making preparations to allow their descendants to survive the coming apocalypse with some chance of rebuilding civilization.
The book then flashes back in time to tell the history of TGO. This is a tale of money, oil, family drama, the cynical machinations of wealthy western society, and sex. Shades of Dallas. Through it all, TGO gradually grows until it finally has the resources to prepare for the apocalypse. The family raises each generation to be prepared for the day when they inherit the responsibility of executing the “Fan Plan”–so named because it’s a plan for when “it” hits the fan, as the saying goes.
The latter stages of the book involve the latest generation of heirs to TGO becoming educated on the history of how societies rise and fall. The central theme of their education revolves around religion, and its ability to inspire and unite as well as to suffocate and destroy, depending how it is handled. Some readers might find these chapters a bit long-winded or preachy, too heavy on lecturing about history. I say this because I know every reader has their own tastes, but personally, as a huge fan of reading about cycles of civilizational collapse and rebirth, I enjoyed these sections quite a bit. And I learned some things too, so if you’re of a mind to study up on how nations fall apart, you could do worse than reading this.
There were a few technical issues with typos and formatting, but the new 2020 edition is much tidier than the 2013 original. (Again, this is one thing that’s great about eBooks!) The book reads in a smooth, conversational way–I could imagine that I myself was sitting around a campfire, listening to Hank, the character who holds forth in the later sections, educating his charges on history and philosophy. In fact, I listened to some portions of this book using my computer’s speech function, and it worked quite well.
Meteor Strike is the first book in the Fan Plan trilogy. They are available separately, but I read it as part of a collection that includes all three books.