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Prelude Paperback – November 10, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Cobb does a good job of the writing with snappy pacing and plotting; his descriptions giving immediacy to places and people. --The Huffington Post, Kelpie Wilson, February 11, 2011
A Grisham-esque tale of suspense and intrigue...I highly recommend Prelude for its engaging story and richly developed portrait of the peak oil issue. --Energy Bulletin, Frank Kaminski, January 9, 2011
Kept me unable to put the book down till finished. Read Prelude because it's a good read. The message is a bonus.... --Dry Dipstick, Mick Winter, December 31, 2010
If you know someone -- a friend or family member -- who enjoys political thrillers but doesn't yet know about peak oil, then Prelude is the book for them. --Transition Voice, Erik Curren, December 1, 2010
About the Author
When he's not bicycling, baking pies and acting as a masseuse and doorman for his cat, Kurt Cobb writes about energy and the environment on his blog, Resource Insights, and as a columnist for the Paris-based science news site, Scitizen. He's a former newspaper reporter and ad man and a sometimes media consultant to political campaigns. He cooks Indian food himself and goes out for Thai. His specialty is pesto. All of which explains why the characters in his novel, Prelude, spend a lot of time at nice restaurants.
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People read a lot of novels, so maybe a novel is a better way of doing it. Jim Kunstler tried it first with "World Made by Hand". However, he described a post-apocalypse world in which Route NY 29 was a dirt road, electricity was on only 30 minutes each day, and so forth. People can't relate to this because such a doomsday world is not their world. I couldn't. So far I have read only two chapters.
Now comes Kurt Cobb with his novel "Prelude". The world he describes is pretty much as we were living it, in the year 2008. There were Metros, limos, cars, and all the comforts of modern life, including fancy restaurants. The story is about an oil analyst named, probably alludingly, Cassandra. As she lives her life, I can see many things in common with my life - working in a cubicle doing analysis, having dates with the opposite sex, enjoying summer evenings, and so forth. It is something we can relate to. I can relate to it; I have already read the complete book. The story is about how Cassandra found out about a secret about oil supplies that had dire implications for the world, and about the intrigue that resulted when people find out that she found out about it. It has an interesting ending; I will say no more than say that the ultimate things that can be done about peak oil we need to do ourselves in our personal life.
I would encourage as many people as possible to read this book, and I hope it enters the limelight of network TV news. It may be the best way for the general public to find out about peak oil.
The book starts out with a tour to the Canadian tar sands and another one to deep-see oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. These parts are not directly relevant to the plot.
The basic plot is that an unnamed Arabian country (easily identified by the reader as Saudi Arabia) has only about half of the oil left they officially report. For reasons not explained, the head of an energy consulting firm gets a copy of a secret report on the sorry depleted state of the oilfields.
Then the protagonist, for reasons not explained and described by herself later on as not understandable, hacks into the computer of that person. She proceeds to print out one copy of that report and manages to get caught in the process, because she leaves one sheet of the printout in the printer (a rather incredible thing to do). Then she thinks about what to do with that information, fails to come up with an answer, and survives some attempts on her life by the evil Saudi Arabian regime.
I was not convinced much by the fiction writing. There are too many holes in the plot. Why would they print out the document in the first place, when they could just as well just read it on screen? Why would the Saudis bother setting up an assassination? They could just deny the report instead, as they actually do later on, in the epilogue.
It is of course difficult writing a novel about peak oil.
That’s because peak oil, just like global warming, plays out over a relatively long term. People are not wired by evolution to pay attention to small incremental changes in their environment.
I thought it curious that there was zero attempt at connecting any of this to atmospheric CO2 build up from our use of oil (and other fossil fuels) and resulting climate change(CC) and how each affects the other. My understanding is peak oil will come too late to help avoid catastrophic CC but just in time to help CC crash civilization. The author, based on reading posts by him elsewhere, seems to be informed in this area - why I expected subject to be addressed.
The setting of Washington DC is not only timely, but frightening, considering the backdrop of the peak oil dilemma that we are faced with. Those who are ignorent of this issue should definitely read this book. We definitely look forward to more insight from this significant author.
Most recent customer reviews
Having read about peak oil for 5 years I was already familiar with the message, but Cobb's skills...Read more