For those of you who enjoy survival fiction, this book is the cat's meow. It is a similar disaster as One Second After, EMP, and has been an internet cult classic for years. Sadly it has disappeared from the net in its full 700 page glory, but the 600 page, dead tree copy should really rock.
Lights Out by David Crawford
I'm reading "Lights Out" now, and am finding it quite engrossing Whether you think the trigger event that could cause The End Of The World As We Know It is an EMP burst as in this book, tor something else like the collapse of the dollar or peak oil, the scenarios the author puts his characters through seem frighteningly plausible, As such, I am finding it a good (fictionally-induced) reality check on my prepping to date. I.e., you quickly realize that just having "things" alone isn't going to be enough for readjusting to a new lifestyle under much different conditions (although they can still be a big help!!), and you get an increased appreciation of the value of skill sets, physical fitness, and community. I'm really enjoying (if that's the right word!) the read because it gives me a better conceptual framework for imagining what could be, and a different perspective from which to consider whether I'm priorotizing my efforts, and making my choices, wisely right now, while there still is time.
I'd be curious to know of anyone else here has/is reading "Lights Out", and to hear what you think about it.
I just finished it as well and then read "One Second After" to follow. I must echo pinecarr's comments. Causes aside, it provides lots of meat to flesh out the skeleton of "what could happen?" Its almost like a trial run or training exercise and it had a definite impact on my prepping. I moved immediately to increase the quality and quantity of my medical preparations and gardening equipment.
Read the book!
Warning: It is somewhat scary if your not comfortable with violence. (You need to get over it anyway.)
...and enjoyed the read.
Bear in mind that I read the internet version, so I don't know what edits were made before printed-on-paper publication.
My big takeaways were
1. The degree of organization your community has is as important as your level of preps;
2. "Why" things collapse is less important than "What" you've done to prepare, once things have collapsed;
3. Leading groups of people is only slightly less difficult than juggling torches wearing a napalm-soaked Speedo;
4. Firearms are no good unless you've trained with them;
5. Never underestimate a dude named "Gunny" no matter how old and whacked-out he might seem at first glance.
Good read, worth the time. Can't believe it hasn't been made into a movie yet
Thanks Rector and Sager. Yeah, no messing with guys named "Gunny" or "Karate Man"!
Rector, what did you think of "One Secon After"? Also worth the read?
Sager, I agree with take-aways #1-5, but I have to say, the visual left by #3....
Lights Out critique
I read this last month. Crawford is a good storyteller and lousy writer. His plot was exciting and I felt compelled to pick it up every night to see how events developed. However, his prose bogged down with way too much administrative detail, like exactly who was going to ride in each vehicle and what everyone was going to do for the day, etc. without advancing the plot. There were many long passages where the author described what was happening instead of letting the characters act it out. Many characters were not believable, and his wife and marriage were just weird. Karate man was too much of a hero to be believable, and the action sometimes degenerated into a para-military wet dream. In Crawford’s defense, these are common flaws of first novels. A good editor would have deleted 1/3 of the book and improved it greatly.
I agree that the book was worth wading through to learn about possible scenarios and how to deal with them. I did learn a few things, but some parts were just unbelievable. A subdivision of fifty families would have much more divisiveness and rancor. Most of the time it seemed that only a few people were doing all the work, while the majority just sat at home. There was no way they could all feed themselves by planting gardens in August, even in Texas. Sewage was not even mentioned until one of the late chapters. All the kids had to spend all day in school when they didn’t even know how they were going to survive. The main characters had the only working vehicles and drove all around the countryside getting in gun battles, when in reality it would take all their time just to make a living. I could go on. There were a lot of holes in what it would take to actually survive.
The interplay with the sheriff, the National Guard, and FEMA gave me useful things to consider, and did seem plausible to me. Some characters got killed, but casualties for the good guys were unbelievable low. No one suffered unrelieved agony, or was crippled for life. The after effects of witnessing or causing violent death were simply ignored for the most part. The story of the trek of his brother’s family was good and believable.
Altogether it was a very mixed bag with redeeming qualities for people interested in the subject. I found Patriots, by James Wesley Rawles, much better on all accounts, though it shared some of the same flaws.
Hey Travlin- Yes, I agree with a lot of your take on "Lights Out". I agree that Crawford's writing isn't the best...But I am still having a hard time putting it down (near the end of the 598 page paperback). And I find some aspects of the scenario unrealistic; how is it that they don't have problems with food availability much sooner? But the book was still worth it overall to me. I really value the chance to get another semi-realistic (?) conceptual framework from which to view what could unfurl in our future, and thus another perspective on how to prepare.
I have also found that reading Orlov and Ferfal re the collapses in the Soviet Union and Argentina also are very useful in that respect, although I am afraid we are in for a much harder fall. A recent video by Orlov, that bandvbandv linked to in the comments of today's DD, speaks to this, at http://vinceseconomicblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/dmitry-orlov-peak-oil-lessons-from-the-soviet-union/. I agree with Orlov's assessment that [much of] the US is built upon a much more fragile infrastructure and foundation than the Soviet Union was, and will thus find itself less resilient.
Thanks also for recommending James Wesley Rawles book, Patriot, Travlin. You've peaked my curiosity to read that next!
I appreciate your comments. I had to keep reading Lights Out every night too. Like I said, the guy is a good storyteller, and it is worth reading for those of us interested in the subject. I agree that Orlov and Ferfal are good sources to check out.
Regarding Patriots; James Wesley Rawles has become one of the grand old men of the survivalist movement. It is no surprise that his book centers on a group of couples that have prepped for years and have a retreat in northern Idaho. In that sense it is less realistic and helpful to the situations most of us face. It has been described as a survival manual disguised as a novel, and it is full of expert information by a man who has been at this a very long time. I enjoyed reading it much more than Lights Out. His web site is well regarded and contains many guest posts with good info. http://www.survivalblog.com/
I appreciate your many thoughtful posts. I’m curious about your background. You joined this site five months before the crash, and you’re about the earliest member still here. What was this site like then, especially the forums? How did you find it? What lead you to the search, because you were definitely ahead of the curve?
I've read all three of the books mentioned here and all were worth the time. 'Patriots' and 'Lights Out' were true page turners that pretty much stopped all other extracurricular activity until they were read. 'One Second After' was also good, but did not capture me quite as well. The writing in 'One Second After' was better than in the others, but the story line was not quite as engaging. That said, I do think that 'One Second After' is the most realistic of the three in how it deals with starvation and the impact of a SHTF situation when one of your dependents is diabetic.
Patriots sure does read like a survival manual but in a way that keeps you reading. I kept thinking there would be a tie in with the two brothers at the end, but the whole interlude seemed to be there only to slam the BATFE and provide info on setting up a new identity. In some ways, it kind of reads like the Stephen King novel 'Tommyknockers' in that there are whole chapters that have nothing to do with the storyline.
I enjoyed all three of them and have read 'Lights Out' 3 times over the last couple of years. The new edition does not depart much from the earlier online editions and only cleans up a few minor details.
Sorry not to get back to you sooner!
About joining the site before the crash, I think Chris and David Collum hit on it in their podcast. They said something to the affect that a common thing that starts people down the red-pill path is that some trigger event motivates them to start learning more. And once they start looking for the information, they are on the path to learning, because the information is there to be found.
For me, the trigger event was that my husband’s and my retirement savings lost a hunk of money in an earlier stock crash. I had experienced instability in my life before, as well as being broke before going to school and getting a decent job. So my belief system was already tweaked not to take financial security or stability for granted. Given that, it was important to me to make sure that our retirement investment plan was based on sound assumptions, unlike before the earlier crash. I just wanted to understand the basis for our financial investment decisions well enough so I could have more confidence in our future financial security. Boy, was I ever in for a rude awakening (as were we all)!
As I started trying to understand the various factors affecting the economy, I found I no longer felt comfortable with a lot of the simplistic assumptions many people writing investment books and articles seemed to base their strategies on. And I was having a really hard time finding books that spoke to more recent things going on in the world that could impact investing (this was probably back around 2005-2007). It was like the conceptual models in the investment books didn’t add up, and they weren’t even aware of it. It was very frustrating.
Finally, I did start finding and reading books that opened my eyes more and more. Laurence Kotlikoff's book "Generational Storm" was a really big eye opener for me. Kotlikoff taught me about how our demographics were lined up to kick us in the butt. He also broke the news to me that the US is insolvent.
Stephen Leeb's book. The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 barrel" caught my eye, and introduced me to the concepts of peak oil and “Group Think”. And Turk's and Ribino's book, "The Coming Collapse of the Dollar And How To Profit From It", brought the problems with the US Dollar home for me. But I was frustrated by not being able to find anything that brought ALL these different factors into consideration.
Step in Chris and the Crash Course. I think I first found out about Chris and the CC via an article Chris had on Financial Sense. I checked out his site, and it was like “FINALLY!!” Finally there was someone who “got” that there were multiple factors affecting the economy (as well as energy and the environment), and who was pulling it all together into a cohesive picture!
As for what was the site like early on, I think my experience mirrors that of others who have written about it. First off, the Crash Course wasn’t done yet, and so we would anxiously await each successive chapter. Talk about “cliff hangers”! Another difference was that Chris had much less help (I believe). There were no moderators, so the site had more of that “Wild West” flavor that some other sites have. Chris didn’t have the help he does now with answering e-mails (which gives him more time to focus on analysis), and the site itself needed some major work (kudos to Erik Townsend who stepped up and made that happen!). Davos used to submit all the articles for the Daily Digest as well, until ~10 months of doing that day-in and day-out even wore on him! (No one person should ever have to carry the load of the DD!). There were also some different people, many very smart people, as there still are now.
It was interesting to be a part of that time, and to watch the real-world 2008 crash events unfold as Chris, Roubini and some others anticipated. As you alluded to above, the 2008 Crash was then another trigger event that motivated a whole lot more people to learn more about what was going on, and to find the site.
Gotta go; the NY Knicks are coming on, my husband’s a Knicks fan, and we just got Carmello Anthony:)
Thanks so much for telling us your story and your experience here in the early days. Mine is very similar, but I was late to see the signs and join the party. I'm very glad to be here now in such good company.
Hey guys! My name is David Crawford and I am the author of Lights Out. I want to thank you for your kind and candid comments on the book. I really appreciate all of them.
I wanted to let you know that Lights Out is going to become a movie. You can find out more at www.LightsOutSaga.com. Thanks so much for your interest and support.
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