I’ve just finished Dies The Fire, a dystopian thriller set in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. In it **mini-spoiler alert** something causes all electricity to stop working at the same moment. Lots of reactionary, ‘worst-of-humanity’ debacles follow this event called the Change, but the book got me thinking about realistic detail.
Not a few of the Goodreads reviews criticized the book for its unlikely cast and heroes. I can see some moralizing, some exposition, and some God-playing, for sure, but it doesn’t bother me too much because the premise is fascinating, and the band of unlikely renegades band together in a rather Firefly-like way to beat back the tide of evil, which I do appreciate in today’s times.
What details does the author include in his end-of-times action-packed plot?
- Wicca and pagan religious practices
- Gaelic speech and sayings (S’math sin!)
- Pacific Northwest landscape
- Survival needs
- Engineering & Construction
- Archery, Weaponry, & Warfare
I’ll be honest. I allowed my eyes to glaze over when the engineer-wizards starting talking about how to weld this and that together or cobble a horse wagon out of a flatbed. Blehhhhhh.
But most of the other stuff was completely fascinating, and intensely unknown to me.
Does the unknown intrigue you?
For a writer intrigued by the unknown, it can be a fun but uphill battle to wade through the details of a certain specialty in order to be able to write knowledgeably and convincingly about it for a paragraph. Some of the things I’ve had to research are:
- Types & classes of carriages used in 18th ad 19th century Britain
- Collapse of the kelp industry in western Scotland
- Breakdown of shillings & pence in Victorian Britain (Errrrg)
- History of the herring industry around the British Isles
- History of canal & railway building in the UK & Canada
- Various Secession movements in Church of Scotland (OMG)
- How mail was delivered in the 1820s and 1880s
- Which holidays were celebrated, how, and where
- How a loom works for a home weaver (h/t to Steven at Alpaca By Design in Sisters, OR for the mini-tutorial!)
- How to harvest barley and oats by hand
- Makeup of virgin forest in Nova Scotia
- How blackhouses were laid out and furnished
Some of these topics were more enjoyable to read about than others (see editorial comments above-ha!), but you can’t cut corners on things and expect people to continue to believe you once you’ve demonstrated laziness or inaccuracies.
It’s a lesson that is well-learnt the first time. We all learn as we go!
What discrepancies have you stumbled on while reading that took you out of the book?