3 of 5 stars.
This story appears in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran. After a global, environmental meltdown in the mid-2080s, the middle swaths of the globe have become uninhabitable. The US has devolved into a patchwork of warlords north of the 40th parallel and become largely unpopulated south of it. The Canadian Arctic Ocean and its melted tundras is the new promised land for North American civilization.
It is now Spring of 2099. The heart of the story is “Bear” (Lewis Behrend) Jessen, a giant of a rural, survivalist in Montana about 6-months widowed from his beloved companion, Orla. His daily talks and grumbles to Orla keep him going begrudgingly. His house is off the beaten path and well-stocked with food and medical supplies to last him a few more years.
Two forces converge on his sanctuary within days. The first is Patricia [“Patty”] de le Montana Vargas from Mexico City en route to the Arctic Circle. The second is wild fires threatening to blow in from the west. The two forces combine to reshape Bear’s view of the world and his role in it.
The first half of this story is worth more than the 3 stars I’m giving it. Bear’s way of seeing the world and telling his history is fascinating and beautiful. From there, the story starts to pick up action which holds some excitement, but I also found some of the character connections a bit too convenient to be believable. There are also a couple abrupt jumps in plot that I wanted to know more about. I liked it when Bear set the pace. His story is a pleasure.
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