Now, I don’t normally like thrillers/mysteries/political novels, etc. I am not a fan of John Grisham, Tom Clancy, or anything of the sort. However…I am a fan of Southern Read on SCETV radio and am a huge fan of Dr. Walter Edgar, so I listen to that program every Saturday. I very much enjoyed Dr. Edgar reading his own book Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution, because I love the study of history (especially Southern history).
Currently Dr. Edgar is reading A Single Star by Stan Barnett, a South Carolina native, and I’m fascinated. This book recounts a fictious struggle between South Carolina and the federal government over the shipping of spent nuclear fuel rods through North Carolina to South Carolina for “storage.” The passage from this past Saturday’s episode has really stayed with me, especially in light of the “discussion” currently over giving the Commander in Chief the power to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes on targets suspected of having WMD.
The passage saw the governor of South Carolina visiting the Chernobyl site and being shown various photos of the victims of that disaster. At one point, the person conducting the tour produces a piece of equipment that detects radiation and it goes off the scale. Understandably the governor is alarmed, but is told that the reason the radiation level was kept from him was to prove a point…that nuclear energy is something we humans can not control, and it continues to live on and destroy our lives long after the event that releases it. The description of nuclear energy as not OF nature but nature itself was fascinating…that it takes on a life of its own because like dominoes it spins out of control, atoms banging into atoms, disrupting the makeup of everything in its path. The fact that the area around Chernobyl is still radioactive is disturbing… the book mentions that it will be for some hundred years.
From the SCETV site:
“Stan Barnett has written an engrossing and thought-provoking thriller. His characters are richly authentic, and he skillfully unfolds an environmental horror that is frighteningly believable. This is a well-told tale that moves, inspires, and challenges our most closely held beliefs about power and the individual…an important book.”
-Pat Conroy, author of My Losing Season, Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, and the Great Santini
Is this book fiction? Yes…sort of. Is it frighteningly close to reality? Absolutely. I agree with Mr. Conroy…an important book, especially now.