This Week’s Book Review – At the End of the World

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

A New Addition to the “Black Tide Rising” Canon

By MARK LARDAS

August 23, 2020

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon, Baen Books, 2020, 272 pages, $25.00 (hardcover)

John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series posits a zombie apocalypse caused by a highly-contagious, genetically-engineered viral plague that destroys the upper brain functions and turns its victims into mindless cannibals. Ringo has since invited other authors to come and play in the highly-popular “Black Tide Rising” sandbox.

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon is the latest entry in the “Black Tide Rising” series.  It follows nine teens on a summer senior year learning cruise when the plague breaks out. Told through the journal of Alvaro Casillas, one of the teens on the cruise, it follows their course through a nightmare world aboard Crosscurrent Voyager.

Crosscurrent Voyager is on a trip from the Galapagos to South Georgia Island in the Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica. Its captain, Alan Haskins, is a silent, gaunt Englishman. All the others on Crosscurrent Voyager are similarly outcasts. They have discipline problems, or are overlooked, bullied, and ignored by their peers. They are aboard because Crosscurrent Voyager was the sole remaining adventure cruise available.

Alvaro, a street-smart Hispanic living in Los Angeles, is a bit of an outcast; small and smart, in a world where size and strength matters more than Alvaro’s intelligence. He has been forced to hide his strength and photographic memory to survive.

While still in the South Pacific, heading to round Cape Horn, things start to change. The captain begins a communications blackout for the teens, while he spends hours on the radio. He begins training them to navigate and operate Crosscurrent Voyager themselves, independently of him. The stop at Valparaiso, Chile is canceled; he opts to travel non-stop to the Falklands, instead.

After passing Tierra del Fuego, the captain makes an announcement. He reveals a plague has been ravaging the world. Port Stanley, their destination, is affected. Their next stop will be King Edward Point in South Georgia, which appears to be unaffected.

From there the issue is survival. Captain Haskins, an SAS veteran of the 1982 Falklands War, expects trouble. The King Edward Point staff is in denial. Haskins takes his crew to where they can find safety and prepares them for the worst.

The rest of “At the End of the World” follows the adventures of Crosscurrent Voyager and its crew as they battle to survive in a plague-filled world, where normal rules are suspended. Gannon’s story is a fast-paced and exciting addition to “Black Tide Rising.”

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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