Betty J. Cotter
Five Star, Mar 2008, $25.95
In 2013, the energy crisis has become a problem of epic proportions changing lifestyles across the country. University of Maryland downsizes its staff; thus Professor Roberta Wilcox loses her teaching position there. With no place else to go she takes the train to her hometown of Coward’s Hole, Rhode Island for the first time in eight years. Her father Alton fails to meet her at the station because he cannot afford to use up his gas allotment. Instead she pays the nosy mail person to drop her off at her family home.
Her octogenarian grandma May welcomes her home while her father remains distant and her half-sister Paula overtly hostile. Meanwhile Senator Fred Maine takes charge of the state’s energy supply as the official Rationing Agent; forcing Alton to overwork his employees, himself and his lumber mill to cut wood before he is shut down due to the lack of fuel. Relocation Agent Anthony Piccirelli tries to persuade these “Swamp Yankees” to sell their land to the government and move into energy clusters. Roberta struggles to comprehend the dynamics including doubts that Maine is playing fair while she also has two men interested in her; former boyfriend Steve Reynolds and back to nature independent Lucas Whitford.
This terrific look at the near future Bush domestic legacy is a wonderful suspense thriller that describes a future with immense energy shortfalls forcing difficult decisions to be made by individuals and government. Although Roberta is the star who holds the futuristic tale together, the support cast with their varying reactions to the crisis and how to “fix” it make Betty J. Cotter’s bleak vision seem genuine.