Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Big One

By Harrison Arnston

Ted Kowalczyk gets a cryptic note from an old friend. Included with the note is a scientific report. Ted, an ex-FBI agent who now works as an insurance investigator, reads the report and its shocking conclusion predicting a huge earthquake soon to hit Los Angeles. So he calls up his old friend at work only to be informed that the friend, Tommy Wilson, has been killed in a car crash three days previously. Ted is upset and puzzled and he decides investigate Tommy's death.
Ted takes the report  to an expert, who confirms that the two dead scientists developed a way to accurately predict earthquakes.
As Ted delves deeper, it become clear that the federal government is behind both scientists' deaths. The government is taking the position that the Los Angeles will be impossible to evacuate and so they are just leaving it to its doom. The only steps being taken are the removal of critical government suppliers and troops. These evacuations are being passed off as a routine emergency preparedness drills.
The federal government also has a secret plan to bury small nuclear bombs along a fault zone in the hopes of releasing the geological stresses and prevent the huge earthquake. This plan could work, but it could also precipitate the major earthquake or set off smaller quakes. What will happen is not known.
But the all the secrets will soon be out. Not only is Ted hot on the trail, but an LA newspaper is also on the verge of discovering the truth. Pretty soon government officials will be in the hot seat, trying to explain why they decided not to at least attempt to evacuate the LA area.

This was a pretty good story. I didn't really buy into the idea that the United States government would be so indifferent to fate of millions of its citizens, though. The excuse is that the logistics would be a nightmare and that forewarning the public would cause panic that would lead to riots and the breakdown of law and order. But other than that, I liked it.

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