Thursday, February 25, 2010

Directive 51-John Barnes

Directive 51
John Barnes
Ace, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441018222

In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Heather O'Grainne leads an inquiry into a potential homegrown terrorist cell, Daybreak. The vision of this diverse group is the destruction of the Big System that each member believes destroyed the American way of life.

Rumors about the group has O’Grainne panicking as apparently Daybreak possesses the nanotechnology to destroy two centuries of technology. Around the globe catastrophes occur leaving billions dead and American going backward in technology. With the government failing faster than society is, NSPD 51 is implemented, but perhaps too late as the two spirals of death and technological collapse continues unabated.

Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller that looks deep into what would happen if modern day technology somewhat predicted where we would be in twenty years or so suddenly stopped working and reverted back to the early nineteenth century. The frantic effort to prevent the collapse of the world seems too little and too late as the Feds work at a snail’s pace while the Daybreak antiterrorists move out faster than the speed of light. Although the story line adopts too easily Stalin’s alleged commentary that “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic”, fans will enjoy this cautionary tale that proclaims that sometimes you get what you wish for.

Harriet Klausner

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