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4.0 out of 5 stars6
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on 3 January 2013
This book concerns a present day apocalypse (the end of oil) and that is the extent to which this is science fiction. Therefore Sci-fi fans that love a good post-apocalypse world and other readers that just enjoy well developed and likable characters that really grow and change as they face difficult decisions are both in for a real treat.

The plot concerns a screenwriter and his family plus friends and their extended families struggling to survive in California after catastrophic 'events'. Think TV show The Walking Dead without any walking dead. Apart from the fantastic writing, it really is an exciting and easy read making it very difficult to put down, the main reasons it appealed to me are:

1) People do not turn into Mad Max-style barbarians overnight. They still had concerns for others and even animals. Yes there are some bad people in this book and when scouts from the group go out foraging you can feel yourself tense up and really worry for their safety. But on the whole people are still willing to help each other and feel guilty about making choices that have a negative impact on others.

2) People in the group do not keep making stupid decisions just to create some action scenes. Young daughters do not go off in the night to meet boyfriends across town or anything. Believe me there is plenty for the group to worry about without contriving silly dangers.

3) People, both individually and collectively, come up with solutions for the short and long term rather than just accepting that this is the end of civilisation.

Highly recommended, a very good read. Scary and very tough things happen but I sympathised rather than felt depressed.
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on 24 July 2013
This book came as a pleasant surprise. John Varley has taken an idea of how the end of the world might look at if all oil just went away in a few weeks. The Concept is not as odd as it might seam considering that scientists are actually working on the method that he used in the book.

With this as a background we then follow what happens with an ordinary but wealthy family in Los Angeles. There are no more Science Fiction bits and pieces, just their survival story. But what a story and how well it is told!

We get to follow all the expected reactions from people and played out in a time frame that feels very real. This is not a story that tries to tell you the horrors of the situation (no zombies walking the streets, no marauding murdering armies of criminals, no murder sprees etc) but it gives you a very realistic picture of what could happen. You have danger, disasters, deaths etc but also human support, friendship and good will. The Mix feels very real.

It all takes place in Los Angeles and if you live there or have visited the city the book will probably have an added value but it is strong enough to make it interesting even if you are on the other side of the world. Since the perspective is local there are very little information on what goes on at regional, national or international level and maybe a few lines here and there on this would have been better. You keep wondering what happened to our whole modern society.

All in all, this was a very good story. The lack of zombies, aliens or robots will probably make it uninteresting for Hollywood but we got dozens of movies with that to see if we want to.
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on 1 March 2013
I was recently told about Varley and decided to check this one out. Basically it's the story of oil being destroyed by an engineered bug and the subsequent collapse of the world, but here it is about the USA and in particular L.A. If you are not interested in L.A. then don't bother, and you may need a map as other reviewers have commented but I found this book well written, in depth, logical, good on many points and substantial. The main character is a well off TV comedy writer who has some advance warning about the disaster and makes some preparation. Many post apocalyptic books are road stories, this one has the guy spending most of his time in or around L.A. and [spoiler]spends a great deal of time talking about him getting out of it. The end is just OK, it's logical and safe but not wildly exciting. It's a well written fairly sensible book that tells a good story, seems to want to help people somewhat in understanding readiness, and it doesn't spend pages talking about his gun collection as some books do. It's pretty exciting as the collapse and the bug lead to secondary and tertiary disasters and the protagonist faces crisis after crisis. Even his personal life has a crisis so good value all round!

Well worth a read if you want to immerse yourself in the collapse of L.A.

Update: I wrote this review on the busiest day of my year as stress relief and made a horrendous amount of mistakes, which I have now removed. Next time no reviews on hectic days!
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on 10 January 2015
The Ophiuchi Hotline and the Steel Beach are marvellous ground-breaking books. The New New York trilogy are worlds-beaters. This isn't. After a few pages I went from not caring what happened to the characters to rather hoping it would be soon and nasty. But I didn't read on to find out. First Varley to wholly fail to engage me.
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on 14 December 2013
It was bought as a present. It will not be used till xmas day. It looks fine.It is Perfect condition.
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on 15 February 2015
I'm a fan of Varley but the title of this one is a bit too accurate, especially the 'Slow'.
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