Read: The Last Centurion by John Ringo
Drinking: Pomegranate Blood Orange Rooibus, Bently
I am a huge Doctor Who fan (and an even bigger Rory Williams fan!), so when I saw this book at the library I immediately grabbed it. While it does not have much in common with that particular BBC story arc, The Last Centurion combines a dystopian alternate reality with warfare involving impossible odds, all while examining our society and the consequences of failed paradigm shifts.
The protagonist and narrator, known as Bandit Six, is a military man who has survived the semi-apocalyptic combination of deadly plague and the advent of an ice age against all odds. The story is written blog-style and represents Bandit Six’s retelling and analysis of the events leading up to and after the dual catastrophes hit. Over the course of the narration it is revealed that his odds of survival were actually significantly smaller than the general population because his company had been abandoned in Iraq when the disasters hit and severely hampered governments and the chain of command. He decides that they cannot stay at the base they have been ordered to guard indefinitely, so they set out to repeat the journey of the ancient Greek Ten Thousand – only with tanks.
While the book is definitely heavy on military discussion, Bandit Six’s recollections stray from strict narration into analysis of why the crisis hit, and why it was so devastating when it did. His attitude towards politics and society can best be described as right-wing, anti-socialist, and pro-gun. Ringo’s presumption in setting the novel – written in 2007 – is that Hillary Clinton was elected for two terms. The crisis hits partway into her second term. Bandit Six ruthlessly eviscerates what Ringo presumed her policies of socialized healthcare and agriculture would be. To some extent, this theorizing is definitely taken to an extreme – but it is an extreme situation that went sour very plausibly due partly to incompetence at higher levels. If you have very strong left-wing views, you should avoid this book for the sake of your blood pressure.
A highlight of the novel is the discussions of people coming together after the disasters and the reasons for communities to come together to support one another or to continue to live in suspicion. It’s “live together, die alone” in a stark picture.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Centurion. It’s a sobering and engaging addition to the post-apocalyptic dystopia genre.