Book Review: Tomorrow War by J.L. Bourne

I will admit that I am a fan of dystopian fiction. There is something about the idea that people can lose everything and persevere that I find a cross between fascinating and uplifting. It also helps that modern conditions are such that there are pretty much innumerable methods to get from modern society to subsistence savagery. Tomorrow War: The Chronicles of Max [Redacted presents a somewhat new twist on the trope of modern society collapsing. One that has been warned about by think tanks but I don’t think has really been tackled by fiction authors yet.

The basic plot details the adventures of a character name Max. Max is some kind of spook who is involved in secret squirrel type government work. Upon returning from a covert mission in Syria his partner gives him the high sign that he needs to take what he can, take some leave and make for the hills. He does and the adventure really begins. Max is from the Fayetteville, Arkansas area and that is where he returns. Upon his arrival at home the world starts to slowly unravel due to failures of the electronic networks that underpin the vast majority of modern life. Then government steps in to impose martial law and really get down to the business of oppressing people at which point he becomes a one man and eventually one city show. It is clear throughout that the collapse of society is planned and some tantalizing hints are given at the beginning and again at the end of the book but a definitive answer as to who or what

The scary part about the book is the premise that a massive and widespread internet failure and computer hack can do that kind of damage. If you stop and think for a minute, it probably can. It surprises me that nobody else has constructed a realistic scenario like this yet. The likelihood that some cyber-terrorist can pull off a cyber-Pearl Harbor is much greater and realistic than the threat of super-bioweapons, EMP, or nuclear attack and it takes fewer resources to pull off. All it really takes to make a super cyber attack is a laptop, coding ability, a good idea, internet connection, and ill intent. All of those are in abundant supply around the world and it is a testament to cyber defenses that the killer exploit has not been discovered yet.

The book is very well written with enough ambiguity as to dating to be interesting. Even more interesting is the realistic use of local resources by the characters. Max has some specialized training but does not really do anything that a highly motivated civilian couldn’t pull off with the exception building a few improvised EFP devices and even that could be done by an amateur who did a little prepping before the world went FUBAR.

Tomorrow War is not only believable but it is scary in the plausibility of the scenario presented. The story moves right along in a believable way that keeps you turning the page. If you like dystopian fiction you will love Tomorrow War.