For nearly twenty years, Chris Mortimer had been predicting that civilization would collapse, and so it was a with a certain grim satisfaction that he watched as it did -- after a fashion. When the peak oil theory surprised even its own firmest proponents by being true beyond their wildest dreams, Chris watched the rioting crowds after the collapse of the Saudi monarchy, the Russian federation and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, and wondered how much longer television would be broadcasting.
When gas prices jumped from $3 to $20/gallon over the course of a month, and the electric company announced that it would only be providing power from 10am to 4pm, he got his hand-cranking grain mill and solar oven out of the spare bedroom and took inventory of the canned goods and bottled water. He was prepared. They were not. Survival of the fittest.
Somewhere along the way, however, the event he had long anticipated deviated from the mental script he had crafted for it. Where he had pictured a need for rugged individualists who knew how to hunt and gather and perhaps eventually farm and ranch, others with skills he had despised were, maddeningly, well equipped to thrive in the new world.
Most maddening of all was that his boss, whom he had at first envisioned begging at his door for canned goods and solar battery chargers, had turned a penchant for "networking" into a trading empire that encompassed control of key aqueducts, solar trading schooners, and the southern overland trade route to California. That this short, nervous-looking man who doubtless did not know three different ways of starting a fire without matches could, in this new world, say grandly to people, "Would you step into my office? I have air conditioning," made Chris feel as if the collapse of civilization was simply not all it was cracked up to be.