"The Rift would be a very good beach book, if you could put it down long enough to get into the water." —— The San Diego Union Tribune
FRACTURE LINES PERMEATE THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES. Some comprise the New Madrid fault, the most dangerous earthquake zone in the world. Other fracture lines are social—— economic, religious, racial, and ethnic.
What happens when they all crack at once?
Caught in the disaster as cities burn and bridges tumble, young Jason Adams finds himself adrift on the Mississippi with African-American engineer Nick Ruford. A modern-day Huck and Jim, they spin helplessly down the river and into the widening faults in American society, encountering violence and hope, compassion and despair, and the primal wilderness that threatens to engulf not only them, but all they love...
" A breakout book that you'll swear the author lived" —— SF Age
"I don't like disaster novels. I would not have even glanced at The Rift if it weren't backed by Walter Jon Williams' reputation for excellence. And I definitely would not have kept reading if Williams hadn't demonstrated on every page that he deserves his reputation. The result? I was so engrossed in—— and engaged by ——The Rift that I forgot that I don't like disaster novels. This book is an impressive achievement.”
—— Stephen R. Donaldson, New York Times bestselling author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
"The Rift is bloody wonderful! Williams brings an historic disaster back for an encore and metaphorically flattens it again. This is the stuff for which sleep is lost--and awards are made." —— Dean Ing
"The Rift shakes up the world like it's never been shaken before." —— Fred Saberhagen
"[For fans of the disaster novel] Williams delivers the requisite thrills and setpieces—— but he also, to paraphrase Conrad, offers a bit of that truth for which they forgot to ask." —— Locus
Catastrophe strikes twice in the same place, or so it seems from the second thriller this year (after Peter Hernon's 8.4: Forecasts, Jan. 4) detailing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in the Mississippi River Valley. Working on a smaller scale than in his world-building science fantasies (City on Fire, etc.), Williams imagines the chaos that would attend a tectonic shift registering 8.9 on the Richter scale ("the worst the geosphere can do to us") along the New Madrid fault line, where a quake of similar intensity in 1811 radically altered the landscape. The result is a formulaic scenario straight out of--or destined for--a disaster film epic, replete with cinematic scenes of modern cities in ruins and a cast of clich d characters who represent the best and worst of humanity attempting to survive under harsh circumstances. Though the plot alternates wide-angle views of awesome natural destruction with intimate personal moments, it jells around the shared adventures of Nick Buford, a black engineer, and Jason Adams, a white teenager. Nick and Jason recapitulate the travels of Huck Finn and Jim as they raft down the Mississippi from Missouri to Louisiana, searching for Nick's displaced family and along the way encountering the requisite share of good guys (General Jessica Frazetta of the Army Corps of Engineers, self-sacrificing nuclear technician Larry Hallock) and bad guys (doom-spewing preacher Noble Falkland, racist sheriff Omar Paxton). Superficial exploration of "the rift" the quake opens between races, social castes and cultures serves as padding between the tale's climactic aftershocks. Williams has written more stimulating fiction, but this holds its own as beachside entertainment.
Well thought out and researched tale of the effects and aftermath of a New Madrid earthquake in modern America. Good read for emergency planners - a true catastrophe of this magnitude will overwhelm governments, putting people back into the wild frontier - Mr. Williams did a very credible job of capturing that.