Thy Kingdom Come is a collection of short stories, no, two collections of short stories, all taking place fifteen minutes into the future. Or, more correctly, a horrible new century that I’m just as happy I don’t live in.
One set involves young Martin Sorenson, a boy growing up in the heartland of the USA. His father has just been asked to join the “Reconstruction” party, a grass-roots right-wing organization that is just getting its start. And in that formulative first story, Dublin’s just had a nuke detonate in it.
The second set, named “Armageddon” and interspersed between the “Plainview” ones, details events at the same time in Europe. Not only are there a lot of post-breakup Russian nukes rolling about, but a group of nutball religious extremists have decided to hold mankind hostage, detonating bombs in urban areas until the second coming is forced.
The stories are interesting and cleverly interrelated – a security team looking for perimeter violations finds a curious boat, looks it over, then plays soccer with some reliving troops. Later, we find out that a bomb went off there and are left with a lingering doubt – was it them? And if they hadn’t played their game, might they have found the bomb earlier? And it’s interesting that the Sorenson ones involve a consecutive series of stories on the growth (and hardening) of a man while the Armageddon ones never touch the same characters twice.
I’ll say this – the writing was pretty good. There was one story where a team attempts to deactivate a bomb (I won’t spoil it with the outcome) where I was literally on the edge of my seat. And over them all hangs the double shadows of American nationalism and nuclear nightmare, two vectors off our current existence that give me chills.
It’s interesting that Simon Morden, the author, started writing back in the late nineties on the Plainview sets, long before the creation of the Tea Party (Bush had only just been elected – how different the world was). And suitcase nukes have always been a fear, but religious/nuclear terrorism is the monster under the bed – that they are radical Christians rather than radical Moslems hardly makes a difference. To us, they are faceless.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which the missus gave me for a birthday present. It came from Jurassic London, the same folks who put together the Pandemonium stories (reviewed HERE and HERE). Like those, I’ve got one of the few hardbacks produced, number 17 out of 75, signed, so that goes on the shelf. However, I think they are available on eBook format, so I’ll suggest you look it up. Worth the effort.