Slow Apocalypse by John Varley is one of those books that only come along once every few years. It is a book that makes you think without even realizing it. The first Varley book I ever read was Steel Beach and Slow Apocalypse is on a par with that book. It is an absorbing read and somewhat of a morality tale.
The book itself 438 pages long and I would guess it runs about 60,000 words.
The premise is interesting and plausible. Imagine some mad scientist developing a bacteria that breaks the hydrogen bonds in petroleum turning oil into worthless sludge. That is what happens in this book. The story itself follows the journey of Dave Marshall, a struggling screenwriter as he first finds out what is about to happen and then struggles to take care of wife and daughter in the strange, disintegrating post bug world of Los Angeles and southern California.
As Varley did with Steel Beach, he has constructed a believable world and storyline. He creates characters that you start to care about and want to know what happens to them. Slow Apocalypse is another great book and story from John Varley that is well worth reading.