John Birmingham's ZERO DAY CODE
What’s better than a new John Birmingham book in 2019? Two new John Birmingham books in 2019. With his amazing Space Opera, The Cruel Stars, due at the end of August, John Birmingham continues to experiment with publishing platforms with the first book in a new end-of-the-world series exclusively on audio from Audible Studios.
No one writes the end-of-the-world quite like John Birmingham. And this isn’t his first rodeo. From his Axis of Time series (which is more alternate history than end of the world but the threat is there) to The Disappearance Series (whose premise was totally ripped off by Thanos and the Russo Brothers in Avengers) through to the David Hooper Trilogy JB always brings his own unique trademark to an apocalyptic event or crisis. Blending thoughtful and mapped out geo-political insights with kick-arse action and a wonderful sense of humour the ride towards the end of everything is always a good one with John Birmingham.
What makes this end-of-the-world tale stand out from the crowd is what brings our world crashing down around us. The world is not ended by militarized vampires, a new plague causing disease or a nuclear Armageddon. It is food and a lack of it. Motivated by a dwindling food supply and a desire to not engage America in a military conflict a cyber war is covertly launched against it and the target is America’s own food supply. A modern-day city only has enough food without resupply to last a week. Add panic to the equation and that timeline shrinks very quickly. Zero Day Code kicks off in today’s world and a glitch we are all way too familiar with; the electrical payments systems around the country go on the fritz. Then the internet goes down for a while before everything seems to be alright again but only for a short while until what is really going on begins to reveal itself and what started as a seemingly innocuous inconvenience quickly spirals out of control, egged on by an internet that has been turned against us.
The story follows four main characters on opposite sides of the United States. A wannabe shock jock and right-wing podcaster who gets wind of the situation unfolding and tries to turn things to his own advantage. A mother trying to pick up her son and get home who gets caught up in the ensuing chaos. An army veteran who has cut himself off from the world as he tries to recover from the wars he has fought in. And a freelance economic analyst who figures out what is going on and the massive ramifications but can’t get those in charge to listen before it is too late. Each story could drive a novel in its own right but this is the first instalment in a planned series and each narrative lays the groundwork for what you know is going to an epic continuing saga. Coupled with the brilliant narration of Rupert Degas (who also narrated The Name of the Wind) and you will be looking for excuses to keep listening to this audiobook.
I can’t wait for the next instalment in this series, which make that two from two for John Birmingham in 2019.