Sunday, May 19, 2013

Earth-Bound Asteroids & Winters' The Last Policeman

Back in February I posted about the meteor that injured hundred in Russia ("Impact Events & Lucifer's Hammer") and matched it with Lucifer's Hammer, a novel that speculated about what would happen to society after a cataclysmic impact event.

Now there's going to be another large rock flying near Earth (not hitting us, thankfully!), and I have a recommendation for a novel that looks at how we would react before a world-ending impact event, if we knew that impact was coming and that there was nothing we could do about it.

Here's Friday's LA Times article "Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31:"
It's 1.7 miles long. Its surface is covered in a sticky black substance similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it impacted Earth it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just making a flyby.
Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest pass to Earth on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PDT.
Scientists are not sure where this unusually large space rock, which was discovered 15 years ago, originated from. But the mysterious sooty substance on its surface could indicate it may be the result of a comet that flew too close to the sun...
For a novel about Earth-bound asteroids, try The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters:
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares...
As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

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