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The post-oil novel revisited!
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Frank gives an overview of the book:

Unlike the other post-oil novels published so far, Ill Wind isn’t about peak oil. In those other novels, oil has gradually dribbled away while we’ve steadfastly ignored the warning signs. But in Ill Wind, the world’s oil vanishes suddenly after some bizarre, experimental oil-eating microbe is unleashed on a massive tanker spill, and then runs amok. What Ill Wind and those other novels do have in common, however, is that they imagine a future world without oil.
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Unlike the other post-oil novels published so far, Ill Wind isn’t about peak oil. In those other novels, oil has gradually dribbled away while we’ve steadfastly ignored the warning signs. But in Ill Wind, the world’s oil vanishes suddenly after some bizarre, experimental oil-eating microbe is unleashed on a massive tanker spill, and then runs amok. What Ill Wind and those other novels do have in common, however, is that they imagine a future world without oil.

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by Frank Kaminski 

Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason’s novel Ill Wind (Tor Books, 1995) is a masterfully wrought science fiction epic depicting a world after oil—and, in the process, touching on a number of peak oil-related themes.

However, unlike the other post-oil novels published so far, Ill Wind isn’t about peak oil. In those other novels, oil has gradually dribbled away while we’ve steadfastly ignored the warning signs. But in Ill Wind, the world’s oil vanishes suddenly after some bizarre, experimental oil-eating microbe is unleashed on a massive tanker spill, and then runs amok. What Ill Wind and those other novels do have in common, however, is that they imagine a future world without oil.

Ill Wind opens ominously, with an albatross of a supertanker known as the Oilstar Zoroaster plying twenty-foot waves in the dead of night during the final leg of its journey from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, into San Francisco Bay. Carrying upwards of 1 million barrels of crude, the supertanker is about to make the delicate passage through the narrow channel beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, a procedure so fraught with peril that captains routinely refer to it as “threading the needle.”

Distracted by a disruption on another part of the ship, Captain Miles Uma returns to the helm moments too late, and can only watch in helpless horror as a collision between the ship’s starboard bow and an unyielding bridge support frees a rush of dire black bile into the Bay. Uma will eventually prove to be among the book’s truly heroic and moving characters; but for now, he retreats into a shamed hiding, even changing his name and physical appearance.

Faced with an oil spill unimaginably worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster, Oilstar executives gather the next morning in quiet despair. But the pall of gloom lifts when two mysterious visitors from somewhere within the company’s obscure “bioremediation research” department stride into the conference room. Microbiologist Dr. Alex Kramer and his assistant Mitch Stone have come to tout their so-called Prometheus microbe, an organism with an insatiable appetite for crude oil. They claim that Prometheus could reduce the amount of oil at the Zoroaster site by as much as two-thirds in just a few days. (It won’t eliminate all of the oil, however, since it breaks down only the octane component.) Its only byproducts would be water and carbon dioxide. It would also promptly die off once its food source was depleted—and it wouldn’t spread beyond the Bay, since it can’t become airborne. Utterly elated, Oilstar’s CEO is sold on Prometheus...

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Frank

I knew that I wanted to be a writer by the age of thirteen. While the other kids were playing outside, I was always holed up in my room working on my latest short story or attempt at a novel. I had other artistic pursuits as well—I did a lot of drawing, sculpture-making,...

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