Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove

Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove

I finally got around to reading Supervolcano by Harry Turtledove last week.  The Yellowstone supervolcano (which is apparently overdue for an eruption) is one of the single biggest perils facing the U.S. and the world.  I thought a work of fiction written by a historian (PHD in Byzantine history) would be an interesting read about how individuals and society deal with such a disaster…I was wrong.

Here is what the San Diego Union-Tribune had to say about Supervolcano:

A supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park sends lava and mud flowing toward populated areas, and clouds of ash drifting across the country. The fallout destroys crops and livestock, clogs machinery, and makes cities uninhabitable. Those who survive find themselves caught in an apocalyptic catastrophe in which humanity has no choice but to rise from the ashes and recreate the world…

via Supervolcano: Eruption – Books by Harry Turtledove – Penguin Group (USA).

My take was a little different:

The Good:

  • Interesting and likeable characters
  • Good character development
  • Loved the characters and their interactions
  • One of the characters followed was a performer in a band…LOVED the band name…it was called ‘Squirt Frog & the Evolving Tadpoles’
  • Good descriptions of the difficulties such an event would put on transportation and especially how the grit would effect engines (didn’t seem to effect air conditioning systems for some reason though).  I still remember the grit in my neighborhood from the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and I lived half a continent away at the time.

The Bad:

  • The supervolcano event described in the book was very minor compared to most projections based on previous eruptions of the Yellowstone supervolcano.
  • Very little mention of the difficulty such an eruption would put on the economy

The Ugly:

  • Virtually no preparedness actions described in the lead up to the eruption even though some of the characters knew it was coming.
  • I really wanted to see a historian’s view on how individuals and society would adjust to the resulting economic upheaval and damage to infrastructure such an event would create.  Turtledove did throw in some difficulties like soda companies having to go back to using sugar because high fructose corn syrup was no longer available (no crops from the heartland)…but his description was a far cry from the mass hunger and starvation such an event would likely create.

In summary, I did enjoy the book but would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t looking for the TEOTWAWKI tie in.  If Turtledove had just written about the characters and left out the would have been a much better book.

Amazon Link:  Supervolcano: Eruption

Audible Link:

Supervolcano: Eruption Supervolcano: EruptionA supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park sends lava and mud flowing toward populated areas, and clouds of ash drifting across the country…

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