The Confessions of St. Zach

Trapped for nearly three weeks in their four room cabin atop California’s Mt. George, college English professor Jacob Zachary and his wife and son have finally managed to shovel enough snow out of the way to brave a drive into town.  But what they discover is a land of falling ash and burned buildings.  The apocalypse, in the form of nuclear war, has come, and without even realizing it, Jacob Zachary and his clan are among the few survivors.  What follows is Jacob’s attempts to keep his family healthy and united.  But of course things are never as easy as they should be.

The Confessions of St. Zach is from the wonderfully talented pen of Gene O’Neill, whose previous foray into the apocalypse, the novel The Burden of Indigo, was among the finest pieces of apocalyptic science fiction I have ever read (and I’ve read a lot of it, believe me).  It is a short book of only some 55 pages, but it is a big story.  It is part gut-wrenching drama about the loss of our humanity, part fable of hope for a new beginning, and in that respect it captures the two finest themes of all apocalyptic literature.  If you liked The Day of the Triffids, Damnation Alley, A Canticle for Leibowitz, or even Alas, Babylon, you will at once recognize this book’s pedigree, and at the same appreciate how it takes a familiar theme into exciting new directions.  This one is highly recommended.

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