Yellowstone National Park to create an image of what could potentially happen should the caldera that fuels the spectacular sights familiar to tourists around the world, suddenly erupt in what is known as a supervolcano. Looking to escape the misery of his wife leaving him for a younger man and the stress at work, LA police lieutenant Colin Ferguson takes a vacation to Yellowstone and surrounding area. While there, he meets Kelly Birnbaum, a student at Berkeley completing her doctorate on the likely geological results of a supervolcano explosion. As a warm relationship begins building between them, signs serious volcanic activity quickly escalates.
Colinís adult children are spread across the country and although he attempts to warn them of impending danger, his concerns are disregarded as a side effect of his growing attraction to Kelly. When the worst-case scenario happens, the devastating effects are felt throughout the country and around the globe as millions of tons of ash are spewed miles into the atmosphere causing immediate climate change. As the U.S. struggles to feed and house survivors while keeping transportation and communication lines open, countries around the world seek ways of taking advantage of the perceived weakness. Throughout the event, one thing is clear; nothing is going to be the same.
First of a new trilogy, Turtledove uses Colinís family as a means of telling the story not only from different perspectives but also from different regions of the country. Donít expect riveting action from this well constructed but slow moving tale which concludes with plenty of loose ends. Do expect solid scientific research, realistic political and social portrayals along with strong character building that is classic Turtledove.