||March 28, 2011
The Cold War has reheated with some added players. The Doomsday Clock is ticking. It will reach midnight.
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The world is still a dangerous place. Russia and China both have Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles still aimed at the United States, and likely most other nations of the free western world. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, although, presently at least, we think, just aimed at each other. North Korea has nuclear weapons, but we don’t know, exactly, what they have. Iran badly wants nuclear weapons, no matter what their leaders are saying. And who knows how many other nations have nuclear weapons and/or the capability of acquiring them very quickly. Oh, yes, and terrorists: How many suitcases can a sleeping terrorist carry? Or a dozen? Or a hundred? A nuclear winter is still somewhat in the realm of theory; that is, we don’t know what would happen during and after even a small nuclear exchange. And that’s the key: We don’t know.
This novel, Winter in July, is fiction. Not meant as a call to arms by the doves of the world, nor as a call to quarters for the hawks. It is meant simply as a good read, and a reminder to the millions of moderate individuals out there of what is possible.
When the mother of Kirby Yates, 40, cleaned out his late uncle’s house, then ten-year-old Kirby stumbled onto a collection of nuclear war literature. He didn’t understand what he had but began reading and had many nightmares, but couldn’t stop reading. He couldn’t repress his new found fascination, which followed him into adulthood.
In 2019 he’s one of the city fathers of Hammett’s Mill, North Dakota, population 240, and has a good job groundskeeping at the construction site of what will become known as an Energy House Museum. The excavation is monstrous. Kirby suspects the underground building is actually a future bomb shelter. He’s nearly obsessed with that suspicion.
After his suspicions are confirmed ex-army Kirby gets a second job (defense of the bomb shelter). But he’s unsure of his feelings (hawk or dove?) so attends a peace meeting, where he meets Lisa. She leads a protest at a missile silo, involves him, becomes his lover, and becomes curator of the new underground museum/bomb shelter, but isn’t told of its insidious true purpose. Conflict of interest would cost her new job.
So, yes, the U.S. government is building secret bomb shelters by small towns, the idea being to save entire populations.
Winter in July is character-driven and based entirely from the viewpoint of the civilian.
His eighth drink was half full. He belted part of it down and ordered another. And still he wanted someone to admit the truth of the construction site. “Say, Elmer, you work out on the edge’a town, too.” For a second the rum hit kind of hard. He felt dizzy.
Vanders faced him, “Yeah, so?”
The dizziness passed. It always did, “What’re they buildin’ out there?”
Vanders took a deep breath, smoothed his handlebar moustache, then faced away, “It’s called an energy house, Kirby. Sort’a like a museum. A demo site. You know that.”
“I know that’s what we’re told, yeah.”
Vanders kept facing away, hunched his shoulders, “Why question it? It’s a job. Something we both need.”
“But don’t you ever wonder?”
“Nope.” Vanders appeared to have sobered, slightly, “Never.”
“Nobody’ll talk about what’s goin’ on out there, Elmer. Why is that?”
“Cause nuthin’s goin’ on.” Vanders faced him, appeared to have sobered even more, “I get paid workin’ there, Kirby, and that’s all I care. If somethin’ else’s goin’ on, fine. But I don’t need to know about it. And I really don’t care.”
“I know what’s bein’ built, Elmer.”
“You don’t know shit.”
Kirby had not actually spoken the words before. Sometimes he had trouble even thinking them, and said, not quite whispering, “It’s a bomb shelter.”
The jukebox music stopped. By chance the song had finished, but abruptly. So did the television. Kirby jerked toward it. Evidently a short pause. The silence throughout the place roared through his ears.
He stared at Vanders, who—eyes bulging—stared back for a second and then looked away. Kirby glanced around the room. Colleen sat absorbed on her TV viewing perch.
Linden, Bradding, Smith, everyone in the tavern just sat, not talking but not indicating they had heard, either.
Kirby licked at his sharp wisdom tooth nubs furiously. His armpits ran again. Then a new song began on the jukebox. The television came back on. Conversations from several directions drifted in. Things returned to normal, with nobody but him knowing they had been kind of abnormal for maybe three seconds. A point in time when everything had simply stopped.
He took a breath, then faced the front of the bar, like everyone else, and belted the rest of his drink, “How’s the family, Elmer?”
Vanders answered without facing him, “Family’s fine.”
The evening passed back into the norm, and the complacent acceptance of what was being built outside of town.
Karen West Marietta, Ga. December 14, 2011
Are you prepare for the end of the world?,
Do you enjoy end of the world or apocalyptic stories? Well, here is another newer one that you would like called "Winter in July". James Nelson has created a very believable incident involving weather changes and government cover ups.
The story is very character driven and moves at a good pace and kept my attention. Kirby, Lisa and the other characters are everyday people involved in a fight for their lives as they prepare for the end of the world. Mr. Nelson, also wrote " The Bellwether: The Mother of All Disasters", another apocalyptic novel, he gives excellent synopsis of the novels on his Amazon page.
The ending was not quite what I expected and I have mixed emotions about what happened to Lisa. Overall , a very satisfactory and enjoyable book.
Again, Mr. Nelson has priced his book at a nominal price and well worth it. I have purchased four of Mr. Nelson's book and read two and the other two are next in my TBR pile.
Pam (no last name given)
Pam LIKES this book
Liked this one. It started a bit slow and was not sure at first but in the end I loved it.
By Kurt Stallings
Buy! -- an unusual, introspective take on the apocalyptic / post-apocalyptic tale, May 5, 2012 (REAL NAME)
Kirby Yates lives in a part of the country where there are almost as many nuclear missiles as there are people. The small little town he calls home is filled with lonely people making their way through silent lives. They would be mere numbers waiting to be dumped onto a casualty list if it wasn't for the fact that their exact location is just beyond the range of total destruction by any enemy missiles aimed at the American bases a short drive across the prairie. Even so, Yates would be nothing among them in the eyes of planners, but for the fact that he happens to have a combination of basic military experience, a quiet competence for planting and managing landscapes, and a bit more intelligence than most -- common enough throughout the world, but rare in that particular spot. He's chosen to prepare for and participate in any nuclear exchange without being informed of the fact until it's too late to quit, although he is bright enough to realize it before. Ironically, he realizes, he is preparing the stage for the tragedy that has given him nightmares since discovering a secret stash of materials in his grandfather's house. His artist's vision, which he keeps hidden from others, makes his sense of what may be coming only more vivid.
The author achieves something rare, if not indeed unique, with a work of fiction that not only broadens the reach of its particular sub-genre but doubles as a commentary on that sub-genre in itself. Certainly, this is the first of the A/PA novels I've read that explores the reason I am compelled to read so many. The protagonist grew up with the same obsessive sense of impending nuclear doom that vested in so many of us at a certain age, thanks to countless drills at school, those ridiculous films in class, and any number of black-and-white movies on TV. While some reviewers here are put off by Kirby Yates' initial, relative immaturity -- brilliantly and incisively detailed for him halfway through by a woman explaining why they can not be together -- readers more accustomed to novels that aren't purely action-driven will enjoy following his maturation, complete at the end of the book.
I'm not knocking action books, or those who enjoy them, I'm simply making the distinction so you can choose whether you personally might enjoy the book or not. I like action books; I also like this one. This is a book about a man, not a war, albeit a man preparing for the most terrifying of wars; and it's a book about a real man, not a caricature.
I recommend BUY as someone who enjoyed the tension as the subtle shifts in his relationships, always driven by an artist's appreciation for the insanity of nuclear war, was also balanced by an appreciation for the need for "adults" (as Yates puts it in his musings) who deal with insanity as something that is never going away. The struggle to achieve some sort of mature balance within himself as between those two impulses are what drive his decisions throughout the book. The ending is so satisfying because he finds that balance under the most surprising of circumstances -- or perhaps the only situation in which he might have stumbled onto it. In any event, it's his decisive action that wins him his "adulthood," and brings the security he's always sought to himself and those for whom he cares.
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