‘After the Crash’ imagines life after fossil fuels. The story is set in the Philadelphia area in the not-too-distant-future of the 21st century, and the whimsical plot carries a serious message.
Efforts to construct a plausible cast of characters and imagine a new human type are interspersed with wry humor and satirical interludes.
Supplementing the narrative and character descriptions, many of the chapters have notes, incorporating the insights and commentary of oil geologists, historians, philosophers, and social commentators – Jim Kunstler, Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, and many others.
In this way the novel attempts to integrate the two sides of the mind – imaginative and analytical. The narrative and the notes together make a powerful and mutually reinforcing statement of my message.
Most of the action of the narrative deals with Pete (short for “petroleum”) and his girl friend Sas, who is engaged in a book project about the Hydrocarbon Era. I describe what life is like in an era of low energy and hydrocarbon “ruins,” and the device of Sas’s book – involving recollection and flashback – allows for much satirical humor, as well as serious reflection, about our present age.
I describe post-hydrocarbon literary life, mating habits, food, transportation, legal and philosophical issues, and many aspects of daily life. But the light touch and subtle balancing of reality and fantasy in this work should not blind the attentive reader to my serious purpose, which is to alert people to the reality of fossil fuel depletion and the gravity of our predicament today. As Richard Heinberg entitled his book on oil depletion, “the party’s over.”
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A chapter (not the first) of this book, “Tomorrow, the Festival,” previously appeared on