Not on Fire, But Burning

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Greg Hrbek
Not on Fire, But Burning

Often you finish a book and are pleased or displeased with the experience and move on.  But sometimes you finish a book and keep thinking about it. Not on Fire, But Burning is such a book. It is not perfect, but is no less compelling because of it. A bit of a thriller, a bit dystopian, a bit science fiction, and a bit speculative fiction – for sure. But it is also a family drama, a social commentary and cautionary tale.

On 8/11/2030 the city of San Francisco is hit by an undetermined attack that results in the collapse of the Golden Gate Bridge and the release of a mushroom cloud of radiation over the city. Skyler Wakefield is a young college student working as a babysitter near the epicenter of the attack.  As she tries to get her young charge to a place of safety, all she can think about is her own 3 yr. old brother Dorian and the rest of her family and hope that their home outside the city is far enough away to be outside the contamination zone.

Eight years later, 12 year old Dorian, his parents, and brother are living on the other side of the country, which has been re-configured into provinces and territories following the attack. While no responsibility for the perpetration of the attack was ever proven, Islamic terrorists were widely blamed and all foreign-born Muslims have been rounded up and moved to containment camps in the western territories.  Meanwhile, Dorian has recurring dreams of a sister he doesn’t remember, and who his parents insist never existed.  He and his friends live in suspicion and mistrust of the Muslims remaining in the community. When a Muslim orphan from the camps is adopted by an elderly neighbor and brought to live in the neighborhood, a chain of events begins that has devastating consequences for all of them.

Mix all of that in with some alternative reality past, present, and future possibilities and you have a thought provoking read on the ripple effect of every seemingly singular choice we make.

“What we have presented here is a fraction of the whole, no more representative of the total narrative than a single cell is representative of the living body of a person, just as every person described herein is, in like manner, a fraction of a whole of greater selves.” Check the catalog

Sue A., Reference

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