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Slow Apocalypse

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  511 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Despite wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 9/11, the United States' dependence on foreign oil has kept the nation tied to the Middle East. A scientist has developed a cure for America's addiction--a slow-acting virus that feeds on petroleum, turning it solid. But he didn't consider that his contagion of an Iraqi oil field could spread to infect the fuel supply of t ...more
ebook, 443 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Ace Books
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Kathy Davie

A terrifying apocalyptic story!

My Take
Wow. Just, wow. It starts out like an action suspense with black ops swarming, but soon disintegrates into a terrifying nightmare. Varley caught hold of my imagination so well that I actually was outside in the "real" world running errands---and I realized I was wary about being out in the open. I was worrying that someone might leap out and attack!

I mean, duh, it was just a story. And one that affected my thinking in real life. The effect only lasted a few
Apr 25, 2013 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Survivors
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
I met John Varley once, quite by chance, years ago. He and his partner Lee Emmett were holding a rummage sale, and I just happened to see their ad in the Portland Oregonian in time to make it down the hill.

It was a rather sad occasion—they had just lost the lease on their apartment, a gigantic, ramshackle abode that took up the whole upper floor of a two-story building with a beautiful view across the Willamette River to downtown. Beneath them was an old Italian restaurant called the Monte Carlo
I've read a number of books in the curious genre of science fiction that attempts to describe a vision of the future after some apocalyptic event such as nuclear war, peak oil, viral plague, or electromagnetic pulse. (Earth Abides, World Made by Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Alas Babylon, Down to a Sunless Sea, One Second After).These books follow a basic formula where there is 1) a horrific event that destroys or seriously damages large parts of the globe, 2) survivors divided up into good guys an ...more
I've just 2 words for Varley's effort to join the ecofiction/apocalypse club: derivative and contrived. It this really the same author that wrote the Gaean Trilogy?

I've been reading such works for decades and a few stand out. The earliest I recall is When Worlds Collide from 1934 to the massive The Stand. Works by such authors as Margaret Atwood and the young Turk Paolo Bacigalupi and even Stephen Baxter come to mind. I am familiar with the subgenre in books and films (The Road Warrior is more w
Brian Clopper
For a book to merit five stars, it has to be one that I finish in a few days. If I putter along with it for two or three weeks chances are it was decent, but didn't quite pull me in and along. SLOW APOCALYPSE had me engaged and turning pages with abandon. It's not a flashy YA dystopian-world's-end fashion statement. It's more than that.

It also doesn't foist on the reader multiple perspectives that many disaster books favor. You know the ones where the characters are geographically, socially and
Veronica Peters
Nov 18, 2012 Veronica Peters rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love dystopian stories and/or John Varley's work
Note: Spoilers!
I visit John Varley's website so I knew going in that this was not a science fiction book. I also knew better than to start reading in the late evening, but I did it anyway because it's a new John Varley book! I finally finished the book after the sun came up the next morning, and I have no regrets.

The scenario seems entirely plausible to me, and utterly frightening. I've seen complaints about excessive detail on LA's geography, but that didn't bother me at all even though I have
Tasha Robinson
I've loved John Varley's books for the past 30 years or so, and it's good to see he's still producing highly readable, involving stories. But it is strange to see him moving so decidedly from science fiction into something that's about halfway between a Michael Crichton thriller and an agitprop doc. SLOW APOCALYPSE offers a brief explanation of a chemical-warfare-induced meltdown of the world's oil, and then the rest of the novel largely just tracks how society would fall apart after that, parti ...more
Richard Radgoski
Great Book. 4.5/5 easily bumped to a 5 despite a few nitpics...and really, they are minor. Overall, the story is basically similiar to some others I've read...The Shell Game (Lack of Oil being an issue) & Super Volcano (Apocolpytical happenings happening in real time) but it handles the topics better than both. This story is about a biological agent that attacks petrolium in the group and causes a lot of issues...which lead to more...and more...which lead to the de-evolution of society as we ...more
*spoilers* I had real problems with this book, some of which have been stated by other reviewers. It struck me as a first draft. I like Varley; he wrote one of the most memorable short stories I've read ("The Pusher").
It just struck me as a half-baked novel - a lot of research, a bunch of notes, and some good ideas or scenes he wanted to cram in. But he never edited and shaped it into an interesting story that hung together with exposition & and fun facts weaved in seamlessly.
*spoilers below
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom Gregorio
I'm a big Varley fan. The whole Titan-Wizard-Demon series was amazing and I must confess to having read them more than once. This book, however, was a disappointment. Way too much ink was ejaculated on the cartography associated with Los Angles and I just turned the pages when he spent time talking about the street layouts and neighborhood characteristics. It seemed egotistical and flatulent at the same time, I did not enjoy it, either way.

The basic story is that a Hollywood writer has insight
A screenwriter living in the Hollywood Hills gets advance warning of a coming disaster, a nanopathogen that renders oil supplies useless. Thinking itself a little mad, he nevertheless stocks up on supplies such as canned food and water. Pretty soon there are gas shortages, and it is clear that society is slowly unraveling while the government is hiding the truth. Things get worse and the small hill community where our hero lives buttons up, barricading the access road to prevent refugees from co ...more
April Kane
Although I liked John Varley’s Slow Apocalypse I found it a very slow read. Varley does a great job with describing what living conditions might be if something like this were to actually happen. He does a good job depicting the fear and violence that may overtake the world under such dire circumstances. My big complaint is that I had a hard time with the geography. I wish the book had included a map or two to help me, since most of the book is Dave or the family trying to get to one location or ...more
Jim Kizer
I have really enjoyed John Varley stories in the past, so I bought this as soon as I saw it. While I did finish it, I didn't really think much of it.

The scenario is plausible, but the story seems to just wander around. It never really delivers. I was frequently thinking things like, "Who would do that?" And "Get on with it, already!"

The interactions between the protagonist and his wife are just hollow, and simplistic. And seriously anti-survival. If I thought my daughter & I were gonna star
My first John Varley book. It wasn't a bad book, but I really need to stop reading liner notes when choosing books! I got stuck on a trip with this as my only book, so I read the whole thing. First of, it's not an action or adventure book. A lot of action/adventure-type things happen, but the author intentionally softens all these things, putting the focus on the experience of the characters. Second, it's not really a character book--the characters are pretty bland and undeveloped (intentionally ...more
Having read and enjoyed The Ophiuchi Hotline, I expected a lot more from this book. You know, like a "believable plotline." Or "complex inner dialogues." Or even "characters who are capable of more than one emotion." Instead, what I got was 300 pages confirming what I already knew. That when the apocalypse shit goes down, rich people are going to have it a lot better than I will. And many, many lines like "He felt proud." "She was concerned." "They felt worried."

The only time Varley seemed to g
Doug Dinsdale
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The beginning grabbed me right away, but the rest of the book did seem overly long--but I read it in one day, and enjoyed it overall. I was very impatient with the horse and kept wishing the main characters would ditch it. Good thing they didn't listen to me. Karen's transformation from bitchy wife to helpmate seemed a bit too abrupt. I'd have liked to see more of the daughter Addison. The geographical detail reminded me a lot of "The Californians" sketch on _Saturday Night Live_ (where people g ...more
Keith Akers
This book, in the genre of books about fictional apocalyptic disasters, concerns what happens when the world suddenly, and literally, "runs out of oil." The driver of the plot is a terrorist plot gone awry: a GMO organism that feeds on oil, consuming it and causing it to expand. Result: destroyed and exploding oil fields. Initially the bug is (seemingly) targeted against Saudi Arabia, but it starts to migrate across the world. Soon, we're without oil, and on top of that the expanding and explodi ...more
Paul Chambre
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I gave up about half way through. The research element showed through a bit too plainly. The characters were not that strong. Not terrible, but not worth finishing.
Wow! “Slow” is the key word here.

I appreciate the attempt … society can slowly unravel when faced with a catastrophe. The problem is that the characters are so cookie-cutter; every character adheres to his/her mold.

And then there is the endless directions. Actually, a map of LA should be attached, because the myriad references to neighborhoods and areas and streets and highways and interstates all mash together. It’s lazy writing. Mention Mulholland Drive or Chinatown and suddenly you don’t have
I love apocalypse fiction. I have loved John Varley's other books.

I do not love reading about the geography of Southern California.

A good third of the book could have been edited out. I don't know where these streets are now, I don't care to learn, and it frankly does not matter in the story.

Tell me more about how Addison took care of her horse. Tell me more about how his wife could not believe his crazy story and how wrong she was. Or just make the story shorter!

I slogged through it - because I
Joshua Zucker
This was a decent book, but it had its slow parts for sure. It started as a murder mystery/spy thriller/suspense kind of thing and turned into a post-apocalypse story in the tradition of a lot of those post-nuclear-holocaust books from back when that was people's biggest fear.

Mostly I'm just annoyed that the main characters all overcame their flaws and turned into perfect people. It made what could have been an interesting story get pretty boring toward the later parts. In some sense all the bi
Keith Beasley-topliffe
I read a lot of speculative fiction: fantasy, horror, space opera, YA dystopias. But my favorite is real hard science fiction. If this happens, then what will follow. A fully developed world. Good extrapolation. Slow apocalypse is near future extrapolation after just one small change: a bacterium that eats crude oil underground, freeing enough hydrogen to cause catastrophic explosions in oil fields. This bacterium goes airborne and suddenly the world has no oil reserves. From there, it's the sto ...more
The World was ending, because of this book. How could anyone think of such annoying characters? Its like people go to school to learn how to drive people up the wall with their characters. I really can't remember the characters names anymore , but when I think of Slow Apocalypse, I'm like, 'Awwww yeah, those irritating characters and the stupid wife and daughter of the protagonist. How could I forget that book'. Followed by some choice words.

I really hate how the protagonist's daughter was like,
Steven Cole
John Varley has long been one of my favorite authors, so I was eager to pick up this latest novel to see what he's thinking about now.

The premise this books starts off with, that something's happened to the oil supply to make it essentially unusable by humanity, was fascinating and quite interesting to think about. The book starts with a fantastic scene, and frenetic panic that keeps the pages turning.

But then it morphs into a "Escape from LA" disaster plot that just doesn't do the premise justi
I really liked this book. It was one of those books that intrudes into reality. When I was in the first hundred pages or so I would catch a bit of news on TV or hear someone taking about gas prices and I would begin to interject something about the new oil crisis from the plot of the book. And then I would realize in my mind that what I was about to say hadn't actually happened. (And I would always add, further back in my mind, "...Yet.") It just felt so real. I've never cared much for the globa ...more
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Full name: John Herbert Varley.

John Varley was born in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School. He went to Michigan State University.

He has written several novels and numerous short stories.He has received both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

More about John Varley...
Titan (Gaea, #1) Wizard (Gaea, #2) Demon (Gaea, #3) Steel Beach The Ophiuchi Hotline

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