Always assume the worst from any public official's exercise of power (no matter how slight). — Joseph Olson, Emeritus Professor of Law, Hamline University
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
A Review of After the Eagle Has Fallen, W. Michael Gear, Wolfpack Publishing, 2023
Delusional is a better word. America, the western world, urban post-World War Two culture. We lived in a bubble. A fantasy construction built on a surreal understanding of reality. Never knew how fragile civilization was. That it could die so fast.
This is book three of The Wyoming Chronicles, a series of novels by W. Michael Gear. I reviewed the first two together. In that review, I said that The Wyoming Chronicles are firmly in that "sub-genre of disaster novels called The End of the World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)". Apparently Wolfpack Publishing have decided to create a sub-genre, the western disaster novel, with The Wyoming Chronicles firmly in it.
In the first two novels, a group of archaeology students from New York travel out to a dig site in Wyoming, only to have their credit cards fail them. Using cash to buy fuel, they get to the dig site high up in the Owl Creek Mountains. There, they are relatively sheltered as civilization collapses following a malware infection of the world banking system.
Dissolution, the first book, deals with events within Wyoming, as our archaeology students learn about Wyoming, and a conniving federal bureaucrat tries to establish a fiefdom in the Big Horn Basin. In the second, Fourth Quadrant, we see The Line, a line of militia outposts across the southern border of Wyoming intended to keep refugees and marauders from the ruins of Colorado's Front Range out of Wyoming.
Along the way, characters are established: Sam Delgado, one of the archaeology students, grew up in a Mexican restaurant in Hempstead, Long Island. He's the guy with the "I 🖤 New York" T-shirt on two of the covers. Breeze Tappan is the estranged daughter of the Tappan family of Wyoming ranchers and outfitters who take in the archaeology students. Lauren Davis is a childhood friend of Breeze. And, no, this is not a love triangle. Portions of all three books show the characters too busy wrestling with their inner demons over some of the things they saw — and did.
Other characters include a Wyoming governor who takes the initiative to organize Wyoming's defenses and get commerce started again. There are two Shoshoni spirits and a Shoshoni shaman.
After the Eagle Has Fallen is the story of an expedition into the Colorado mountains to rescue and recover a biotechnology firm capable of making medicines such as insulin. Lives are at stake: not just the members of the expedition, but some 37,900 diabetics in Wyoming (7% of the population). And other patients with other conditions. (What medicines do you rely on that would not be available in a collapse? Who makes them? Ranbaxy, an Indian firm?)
So we get a tour of the Rocky Mountain portions of Larimer and Boulder counties. As with the first two books, this is country familiar to Gear, who attended Fort Collins High School and Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Fort Collins is also one of the locales in the Gears' Dark Inheritance, a genetics thriller which asks the question, what is human?
All in all, this is an excellent thriller which more than lives up to the first two books in the series. If you want a fast-paced read with lots of action and some great battles, this is your book. If you want a book with ideas and questions to ponder, you'll like this book — but you may not like some of the questions. You'll have to provide your own answers, though. A good writer, like Robert Heinlein, provides questions, not answers.
I recommend the series.
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