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Lost Everything

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  240 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In the not-distant-enough future, a man takes a boat trip up the Susquehanna River with his most trusted friend, intent on reuniting with his son. But the man is pursued by an army, and his own harrowing past; and the familiar American landscape has been savaged by war and climate change until it is nearly unrecognizable.

Lost Everything is a stunning novel about family and
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Tor Books
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Mexico native Alfonso Cuarón directed the cinematic adaptation of PD James's Children of Men. I couldn't understand what I loved about this movie. I watched it again. Then I watched Yu tu Mama Tambien. Then I understood. Cuarón's consummate skill is in telling the story of the world outside that of the protagonist's perspective, effectively reducing the landscape into a vital character of the narrative. His camera wanders, and the world slides by, telling its story merely by being framed.

The sam
Lost Everything is like Cormac McCarthy's The Road if written by Terrence Malick. So stark and bleak yet so...ethereal. I loved it when I was done, even though getting to the end was a struggle at times. The primary story, about a pair of men floating up the now-mighty Susquehanna River during an unspecified war in the near future to find a lost son, is riveting. But every single character introduced gets a backstory, with tangents and diversions and unexplained details, to the point that the ma ...more
Brad Hodges
Here's yet another book about the collapse of society following some sort of calamity, but instead of nuclear war it's the rising tides caused by global warming. I read Lost Everything, by Brian Francis Slattery, because it won some award, but I didn't find it award-worthy. It's a dull, dreary book that I soldiered through, much like the characters as they fight for survival.

Set in the Susquehanna River valley, the book focuses on disparate characters. The rising of the oceans seems to have diss
Sofia Samatar
In the midst of violent climate change and war, a man travels on the swollen Susquehanna River to find the son he left behind. This is an important aspect of the novel, but it's also an elevator pitch: it's what I would say if I were trying to sell you the book in five minutes. I would also say: "It's The Road meets Huckleberry Finn!!!" Like all good promotional material, this is true, but it fails to express what I love about the book: the sentences stripped down to a piercing clarity, the use ...more
Alexandra Gekas
While Brian Francis Slattery is an established Science Fiction author, I would place this apocalyptic novel somewhere between Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Set in a not-too-distant future, two or three generations at most, global warming has brought the United States into a drought-fueled civil war between government forces and a revolutionary army. Amidst this violent and blighted backdrop, Slattery follows Sunny Jim and his preacher friend
Shaun Duke
Reviewing Slattery's Lost Everything will seem rather convenient in light of Elizabeth Bear's Clarkesworld post on the doom and gloom nature of SF. How awful of me to love another work that makes us all sad and boo hoo inside! Except Lost Everything isn't terribly boo hoo, unless the only thing you pay attention to is the central premise: the United States has gone to pot -- global collapse, climate change, and civil war, along with the looming threat of an immense, monstrous storm that will sup ...more
The war, the war. There was no Fort Sumter, no Pearl Harbor, no moment that we all understood at once that we were fighting. No one to tell us things had changed. There must have been a first shot fired, perhaps two men—it must have been men—arguing over where one’s land began and another’s ended, a first bullet flinging a ribbon of heat through the air. Another one shot back. But I have to believe they did not know what they were starting. If they knew, why would they have shot? An army was rai ...more
Terry Weyna
What will happen to America as the effects of global warming continue to wreak havoc? Brian Francis Slattery imagines a much different country in Lost Everything, which has been nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award for 2012 for the best paperback original novel.

Slattery imagines that the country we know as the United States is gone, replaced by smaller, regional countries that are engaged in civil war. The Susquehanna River Valley is in the middle of such a war, about which we are told little s
First Second Books
I love how in this book there’s the apocalypse – but it’s not filled with zombies, nuclear explosions, or Revelations. Instead, it’s just moderately-quietly concluding, in a kind of ‘fade to white as the sky opens up like an orange’ sort of deal.

Also I love how the protagonists in this ‘we have to go and get this kid home safely to his parents’ story are men, because the relevant women in their lives are busy fighting wars and are not available for kid-wrangling today.
***I was lucky to win an advance copy of this book from***

This was a very good book, well written, with very realistic characters. You fell the war destruction, and the characters' struggling in every word. The reason I didn't give the book five stars is because it was so depressing (but this made it so realistic). I had to stop reading several times - it was just too much suffering and destruction.
Brian Francis Slattery, look, I love you, but your all sweeping description of looking out over the landscape of America like some kind of Kerouac-slash-Steinbeck all the time no real plot development to speak of oh wait what the fuck that was the ending shtick is going to get old eventually. EVENTUALLY.
Althea Ann
A slow boat ride through the apocalypse...
I heard the author at a reading shortly after finishing the book, and he's much too apologetic about his book being negative and depressing. Embrace it! Everything is going to hell! Yes!
That said, it's actually not as depressing as it might be. Yes, the United States is in a state of socio-economic collapse, wracked by a civil war fueled by desperation and despair. There's a lot of misery, denial, malaise, and yes, a great deal of loss.
But, judged by th
Chris Holly
You will either love this book or really dislike this book. I personally found it well written, solidly focused on the topic it intended to cover and deliciously inexact when needed to be.
Slattery gives us a narrative that is reminiscent of Stephen King's more free associating moments and Cormac McCarthy in "The Road", but these are only mere comparisons. "Lost Everything" is about a man, his wife, their son and a world gone mad in war and in weather. Everyone is tired of the war and there is no
Donovan Richards
No One Should Be Mother Teresa

I vaguely remember a provocative paper assigned in ethics during my undergraduate years. Since I forget specifics, it’s probably not the best analogy, but I find it particularly fits with Brian Francis Slattery’s Lost Everything.

The author of this paper argued that nobody should aim to act like Mother Teresa. First off, the baseline for her code of ethics is too high for most of humanity to reach. Additionally, people can’t relate to the Mother Teresa-types of this
Oct 11, 2012 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: dmla
Hm. How to talk about this book. It took me an entire month to read it, versus the way I devoured the two previous ones. It moves at a very sedate and languid pace, mimicking the Susquehanna River where all of the action is set -- like a sort of meandering sepia-toned post-apocalyptic Heart of Darkness. Another reader described this book as that "those last 5 minutes before you fall fast asleep", and Slattery mentioned that that was the exact hazy time of day in which he wrote the first draft.

Paper Droids
Wow. Really, wow. If I could just write that one word for the whole review, I would. Brian Francis Slattery’s Lost Everything is wow. Go get yourself a copy – my work here is done.

Oh, I guess you want to find out why I’m so bowled over by its greatness. Where do I begin?

At its most basic, Lost Everything is about a riverboat journey, a story of a man named Sunny Jim trying to get to his young son, Aaron, in the midst of a battlefield. America is in ruins, devastated by the storms and disasters w
Ray Blaak
A story set in post-crash America, a generation in, a man on a journey up a river, trying to connect up with his son. There's a war on that no one remembers is about, people barely remember snow, the river is eating towns, and the Big One is coming.

This story is pretty rough. I thought The Road was bad, and it is. Lost Everything goes deeper, it is less lonely, but more sad, because there a more people around, and they have all lost something, someone, everything.

And yet it is much much better a
On p35, the unnamed narrator remarks: “There are no words for so much loss, not right after it happens.” Except the problem with Lost Everything is precisely the opposite: there are too many words here. A brimful cornucopia of imagery that overwhelms the reader, with writing so lush and overripe that the very pages seem to shimmer and curl. It reminded me of JG Ballard and Ian McDonald. However, the richness of the writing distanced me from the characters, as I was too conscious of Slattery’s li ...more
Chris Edie
A glimmer of lives haunted by their past and faced with imminent Armageddon on two fronts. Faith, love, trust, hatred, obedience, revenge all struggle in Brian's purposeful prose describing individuals in a river of humanity and despair.
Eerily prescient, strangely compelling, beautifully written, total clusterf___ of a book. Slattery brings new meaning to third-person omniscient narration with an ill-defined narrator who seems to know the back story of every character, even peripheral ones who flit in and out of the tale. Flashbacks within flashbacks occur, pulling the reader away from the main narrative like the tributaries of a river -- which is fitting, really, since the story takes place on the Susquehanna. This is probably ...more
Michelle Morrell
I picked this up at Norwescon, as it was one of the Philip K. Dick award nominees. Unnumbered years in the future, after climate change has decimated anything near water and snow is just a legend, two men hitch a ride on a ship heading up river to find one's son. It's a limbo novel, reinforced by the writing style that lives very much in a floating present, as an army chases them from the rear and a killer perma-storm is bearing down from the front. Lots and lots of death and sadness and prepara ...more
I was waffling between 4 and 5 stars- I would probably give it 4.5, but since there are no half star options, I gave it five. The main reason I was interested in this book (besides the fact that it was a PKD award winner) was that it took place on the Susquehanna. Having grown up along the river, it was exciting to see a speculative version of these familiar places-- Harrisburg, Sunbury, Danville, Riverside and Towanda all make appearances, along with many others. The writing is great, and a bit ...more
Do not waste time on this book! The author may have a gift for describing the new ways of the steamy and rotten planet Earth but his plot was thin and characters not believable.
Lee (Rocky)
There are some things about this book I really appreciated but they were all working against each other. The language rather terse and stilted and takes a little getting used to. I liked the style at first but later on felt as though it was making it feel like nothing much was happening, even in parts where a lot was happening. For much of the book I liked the ambiguity about what the war was about and what exactly the environmental disasters were but once I finished I realized that this book mi ...more
Michael Hanscom
I almost gave this one two stars, but that wouldn't have been fair to the book. It's good, well written, and the style is...well, I want to say pretty, but "evocative" is probably a better word. The book was just too sad, too much of a hard slog through a broken country with broken people. Though described as post-apocalyptic, that's not quite right, as the apocalypse is still in progress during the events of the book. There are moments of hope, but they're always overwhelmed by despair. I know ...more
A ferryboat ride on the Susquehanna in hell. It's after they people in Pennsylvania have lost touch with the West - some huge dark dust filled storm cut off any radio or other connections. A father just wants to go home to pick up his kid before the storm or the military kills him. Unrelentingly grim story about a future none of us want to inhabit. But the characters in the story are doing the best they can to survive and maybe even enjoy themselves.
I really enjoyed Slattery's 'Liberation,' and was hoping this novel would be just as good. I was very disappointed. He's an excellent writer, but this novel went nowhere - like McCarthy's 'The Road' but with an uneven, disjointed plot. As in the case of 'The Road,' Slattery offers no specifics as to how the world was ruined, just handwaving in the direction of climate change. What was so great about 'Liberation' was his ability to bring a social scientist's eye to the genre.
I'm still reading. Everything is going to pot, I'm told who will live, who will die. I might be told how this happens. I don't count on it. I don't know who's talking. Is it death? But no. Death wouldn't feed people, just take them away. I'll keep reading to the end. I won't recommend it.

I keep imagining little squiggly lines under the clauses that are sentences without verbs. Very distracting.

I think I'd like to read his other books. Later. Not soon.
Kennet Lindholm
Actually not so good book as I was hoping it would be. A story of what would happen to America if the effects of Global Warming continue. The Civil War that rages is a weird war where nobody seems to know what is going on.

The Book is in my opinion a little bit Strange but well written. I enjoyed it quite a lot sometimes and sometimes It felt really strange. Well worth a read but does not fall in my taste.
At first the sort of stream of conscious narrative of this novel really bugged me, but then I forced myself to relax about it and then quite enjoyed the read. It reminded me of The Road quite a bit, in that it's a story of what happens after It All Goes Wrong, but it's written very differently. Not exactly an uplifting novel, but then again not every novel should be filled with rainbows and unicorns.
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: 2012 P. K. Dick Award winner announced 1 20 Apr 02, 2013 07:32AM  
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I'm an editor who writes, and also an editor who reads. In giving stars to each book I've posted about, I'm not comparing them to each other or even to other, similar books; I'm comparing them to some idealized version of what I think they could have been. As you can see, I think most of the books I've read in the past couple years are pretty darn good.
More about Brian Francis Slattery...
Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America Spaceman Blues: A Love Song The Family Hightower Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 97 (Clarkesworld Magazine #97)

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“They could read it on each other, their faces wrinkled pages. Words hiding in the folds of their clothes. She was made of letters then, as all of us are now.” 5 likes
“There are no words for so much loss, not right after it happens.” 4 likes
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