Anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park knows how risky it can be. But for Colin Ferguson, a southern California police officer visiting Yellowstone one fine day, the risk of imminent disaster is much bigger than an exploding geyser. In fact, the source of this disaster does involve an eruption, but more along the lines of lava and brimstone being shot into the air. The source of this eruption? A supervolcano – which Colin learns about from geologist Kelly Birnbaum, who is researching that very thing at Yellowstone on the same day. When their paths cross, the danger of an eruption is not only a possibility, but very likely. And both Kelly and Colin watch, and wait, for that day the supervolcano will explode. When that day comes, life as we know it will never be the same again.
Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove was the kind of novel that made me stop and think about just how prepared we are for such a devastating natural disaster. After the supervolcano erupts, all of the essentials suddenly become immensely important: Food, water, shelter, even electricity. And while characters in the story take a moment to sadly consider the lost lives of everyone too close to the eruption, they also take note of just how widespread that devastation is, and what all it has ruined. It’s not just Yellowstone that is gone because of the eruption, but crops, livestock and even paper mills that have been wiped out.
In addition to losing so much because of such a devastating natural disaster, the weather effects that result because of the volcanic eruption are enough to bring El Nino to shame. Sunsets and sunrises are almost unreal, strange clouds hover in the air, the ash keeps coming down and it even causes snow to fall in L.A. Another change that results from this disaster is that everyone has suddenly become a survivalist.
The story is told from the POV of several characters: Colin; his ex-wife, Louise; their adult kids Marshall, Rob and Vanessa; Kelly; and Vanessa’s ex-boyfriend, Bryce, who remains friends with Colin. This diverse combination of characters sharing everything they see, hear and do in their corners of the world allows the reader to grasp the full impact the eruption has had on different parts of the country. Even while there’s no ash in the air for Rob and his band as they travel through the Northeast, going from gig to gig, they do notice changes in the sky. And while Marshall is safely away from the weather craziness of Southern California, he also notices changes.
Supervolcano is an interesting look at what might happen, and very well COULD happen, should the real thing in Yellowstone erupt. It’s a story that forces readers to take stock of just how prepared they are for a natural disaster, rekindle their relations with family in the event of such a disaster, and how the rest of us are supposed to get on with life post-eruption.
A supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park sends lava and mud flowing toward populated areas, and clouds of ash drifting across the country. The fallout destroys crops and livestock, clogs machinery, and makes cities uninhabitable. Those who survive find themselves caught in an apocalyptic catastrophe in which humanity has no choice but to rise from the ashes and recreate the world...