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Monday, October 28, 2013

GUEST POST: When The Grid Goes Down by Gail Z. Martin

One of the reckoning points when we watch apocalyptic shows like Revolution, the Walking Dead or the series Life After People is how quickly life as we know it vanishes without the power grid, at least for those of us in First World existences. Without electricity, settlements in areas of extreme heat (like Las Vegas) or cold (like North Dakota), or that rely on either irrigation for water supply or on power to rid them of excess water could not sustain the population under natural conditions, at least not on the scale to which they have developed.

High rise buildings are not sustainable without electricity to run the elevators and provide light, heat, water flow and necessary services. City sanitation breaks down without sewer treatment facilities and garbage trucks can't pick up trash if electric gas pumps don't work.

In my novel Ice Forged, magic functions like the culture's power grid. Most magic is of the small, convenient and useful variety--protecting crops from pests, draining swampy areas, preserving food, and the like. Magic is their science, and those small magics undergird more of their everyday existence than anyone realizes until one day, the magic disappears. A devastating war with the neighboring kingdom provokes the battle mages on both sides to employ a doomsday strike. The strike has the unforeseen consequence of breaking the bonds that had made it possible for people to control magic and returning the power to its wild, untamed state. Fire rains from the sky, weather becomes more extreme, and in all the hundreds of ways in which people had depended on small magics, life falls apart.

One man might be able to restore the magic, but there are factions that like the opportunity chaos provides, and therein hangs the tale.

While I'm not usually a fan of modern apocalyptic stories, I was intrigued by the premise for Ice Forged for a couple of reasons. First, because it's a medieval apocalypse, which was suited to an epic fantasy format. And secondly, because the idea of struggling to do things the old way, without magic, just got a hold of my imagination and wouldn't let go.

Back in the 1970s, when the back-to-nature movement got started, the Foxfire books seemed to be on everyone's bookshelves. These books sought to impart what most of our great-grandmothers and grandfathers knew (and what the Amish and other cultures without modern technology still do, but city-dwellers don't). Canning, growing a backyard garden, folk cures and low-tech solutions suddenly became interesting as people began to wonder about sustainability and the unintended consequences of pesticides, EMF fields, chemical additives and other modern "miracles."

I was on an apocalypse panel at Dragon*Con where we were talking about what it would look like 10 years after The Event. We agreed that preserving the accessible (no disk drives!) forms of knowledge that explain how to do the crucial things (farming, first aid, surgery, canning, etc.) would be essential for society to rebuild in less time than it required to evolve those technologies the first time around. Blaine's world has to go back four hundred years to find out how things were done without magic, so the transition is even starker. And in order to try to fix things, you've got to live long enough to make the attempt.

In Ice Forged, one group that adjusts without difficulty to the lack of magic is the talishte, the immortal vampires. They remember how things were done centuries ago because they were around when it was done that way. And while they're quite capable of coping without magical conveniences, some of the talishte join forces with my hero, Blaine McFadden to bring back the magic because they appreciate the civilizing value and the convenience that "power grid" provided.

It's the little things that disappear when the world ends, as much as the big things. In Blaine's world, when the magic fails, both the living and the undead have their reasons to get the world back on track, and their enemies have just as many reasons to want the dark times to stay as dark as possible.

Come check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour! Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you'll find brand new interviews, freebies and more--details at my website.

Ice Forged will be a Kindle Daily Deal with a special one-day price of just $1.99 only on October 31! Get it here

Official Author Website

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Gail began writing fiction as a child and she was always a voracious reader since childhood, she frequently chose to read books with a supernatural slant, including folktales, compilations of regional ghost stories and gothic mysteries. She credits the TV show Dark Shadows with her life-long fascination with vampires. She discovery SF and fantasy during middle and high school and that has fueled her writing journey. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with an M.B.A. in Marketing and Management Information Systems.

Gail is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books). Next year, she also launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

For more about Gail’s books and short stories, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin, and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads


Anonymous said...

If I didn't want to read "Ice Forged" before, I do now!

I've always been fascinating with "off the grid" stories. Whether it's deal with an entire civilization, or a single person, I find that kind of storyline intriguing, and I love seeing the creative adaptations for daily life.

Gail Z Martin said...

Our grandparents (or great-grandparents) would hardly have been affected, but our way of life would be completely changed. Interesting how much can change in a short amount of time.

Blodeuedd said...

I really wanna try this one .)


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