Jeff Lewis' foray into the future history of a 48-hour nuclear war launched by North Korea is a page-turner to be sure, but had he taken some story-telling clues from Strieber's classic nuke war history, "Warday", The 2020 Commission Report could have been a classic in the genre.
The writing is breezy, and a little too much so. Not to say Lewis doesn't tell a good story -- in fact, he has the makings of a great story -- but there's precious little meat on the skeleton of his plot. He spins a believable scenario of how N. Korea ended up lobbing nukes at everything within missile's reach, and the lead-in is compelling, but once the nukes do start flying, he seems to lose interest in his own story. Telling the story of what happened after the nukes started popping off, we're treated to an in-depth look at what President Trump is doing (and not doing), but as for the millions roasted in the nuclear fires, their voices are relegated to mere snippets of eyewitness accounts -- and those stories are incredibly airy, mostly variants on "oh gosh, it was awful!".
Even in describing the aftermath of this 48-hour war, which would have been worthy of a book itself, Lewis seems to have lost all the intensity that made the ealier chapters such a good read. He talks about public health emergencies and a touch of global cooling, but somehow leaves out what the financial cost of such a war would be to the United States and how the war impacted the rest of the world. There's almost a "and they lived happily ever after" feel to the final chapter, as if Lewis was trying to get the book out the door before the summer reading season petered out.
"Warday" deserves an updated successor, and the future-history genre' can always use another story; that's what makes the shortfalls in The 2020 Commission Report so disappointing. Adding more details about the effect of war itself, a little more depth to the story-telling, and a fuller conclusion could have propelled this book from just a fun read to being a classic in the nuke war canon along with Alas, Babylon and On The Beach.
- Paperback: 294 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books (7 August 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1328573915
- ISBN-13: 978-1328573919
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 249 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)