Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Suicide Collectors-David Oppegaard

The Suicide Collectors
David Oppegaard
St. Martin’s, Dec 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312381103

No one surviving understands much about the Despair plague, but in the five years since it first surfaced or at least was identified the pandemic destruction of the globe has left fewer than 10% of the population alive. Incredibly, in this relatively short time so many have committed suicide. Those left behind struggles with grief, survival guilt and despair over the future.

In Florida, Norman comes home to find his beloved wife dead, a victim of an overdose. When three Collectors arrive to take away the corpse, Norman refuses their entry. Instead he and his neighbor Pops fire at them; blowing away one of them. The remaining two leave with the corpse of their comrade while Norman and Pop discuss how the Collectors know when to come for a dead person like they did within a few hours for Norman’s wife. They also realize they cannot remain here as more Collectors will come so they discuss where to go before these ghoulish scavengers come back for them. They decide to cross the country to Seattle where rumors that a research scientist has found a cure to Despair. In Kansas, courageous but frightened eleven year old Zero joins the traveling Floridians, who have met death everywhere on their trek.

This well written haunting science fiction tale will grip the audience from the onset when Norman finds his wife dead in their bed and never slows down as he and Pops travel as bleak a landscape in recent memory. The story line is fast-paced but gloomy as Despair is the shroud that hovers across America. As in the Zager and Evans 1969 song In The Year 2525 states: “… For what he never knew now man's reign is through; but through the eternal night the twinkling of starlight”, a dash of hope mostly through the intrepid Zero who brings a reason to live to the adult Floridians.

Harriet Klausner

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