Tuesday, July 25
Reading & Signing
The Carrington Event of 1859 was the single largest solar storm in modern history. When an immense blast of charged particles from our sun plowed into the earth, it blew out telegraph systems, delivered electric shocks to people who touched metal objects, and caused auroras so brilliant in the continental United States that people came outside in the dead of night thinking the sun had risen.
But if a similar storm happened today, the world’s high-tech infrastructure would grind to a halt. GPS and satellite communications would no longer work, and the power grid would shut down for weeks or even years. Planes could plummet to the ground. Once-bright skies would go dark.
Would any of us be prepared for such an event? David Williams, a theologian and pastor in the Presbyterian Church, suggests in his riveting debut novel that the Amish would be uniquely suited to survive this catastrophe. Set in the near future, When the English Fall (publication date: July 11, 2017, $24.95) follows an Amish farmer named Jacob in the wake of such a storm. With their farms, stocked larders, and tradition of self-reliance, the Amish are unaffected—at first. But as the English—what the Amish call outsiders—become more and more desperate for food and safety away from the chaotic city, they begin to invade Amish farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the peaceful community. As Jacob tries to protect his family and way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos: Should a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they don’t, can they survive?
“I hope my novel reveals a little about who we are as human beings and how fundamentally connected we are, no matter our beliefs,” says Williams. Williams is also the author of The Believer’s Guide to the Multiverse, a theological exploration of Christian faith and the cosmos. His writing has appeared in Wired magazine, The Christian Century, and OMNI. A lifelong D.C. resident, he now lives in Annandale, Va., with his wife and children.
In the spirit of Emily St. John’s Station Eleven and Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, When the English Fall is both an insightful meditation on our capacity for good and evil and a compelling story of man in crisis. The novel “takes its place in the landscape of postcollapse survivalist fiction as satisfyingly as a puzzle piece clicking into a gap,” says Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead.“You’ll read it and wonder how you never realized it was missing.”