Atlas Drowned

John Scalzi once remarked that people who took Atlas Shrugged seriously tended to be people who (a) imagined that they would wind up on top of the heap if the novel’s comprehensive societal breakdown actually took place, and (b) would in reality last about five minutes in such a situation. John Shirley’s maliciously entertaining new novel Everything is Broken (Prime Books) brings the Ayn Rand scenario to an isolated California coastal town where the libertarian mayor has done away with all those Big Government encumbrances like publicly funded police and fire services, just in time for an earthquake-generated tsunami to smash what’s left of the local infrastructure. Dead bodies are everywhere, Galt Gulch is a debris-choked canyon under armed guard by a band of thugs, and the closest thing to Midas Mulligan is a meth-snorting psychopath in league with the increasingly delusional mayor. A mean book for mean times, Everything is Broken is a bracingly realistic disaster novel with a much-needed political chip on its shoulder. Even a Ron Paul follower should think twice about knocking it off.       

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