Sponsored by Blackout by Marc Elsberg.
When the lights go out one night, no one panics. Not yet. The lights always come back on soon, don’t they? Surely it’s a glitch, a storm, a malfunction. But something seems strange about this night. Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electrical grids collapse. There is no power, anywhere.
A former hacker and activist, Piero Manzano investigates a possible cause of the disaster. The authorities don’t believe him, and he soon becomes a prime suspect himself. With the United States now also at risk, Piero goes on the run, desperate to uncover who is behind the attacks. After all, the power doesn’t just keep the lights on—it keeps us alive.
Last week, we asked readers to get paranoid (or maybe just realistic?) and consider what you would do if you suddenly found yourself in a “the end is near” situation where no one had electricity, ever, anywhere. Would you run screaming into the streets about the zombie apocalypse? Hunker down in your basement with a weapon? Decide now’s a good time to finally read through your to-be-read pile because what else is there to do?
Readers submitted their ideas for what they would do to survive a blackout, and we’ve picked our two faves. These semi-finalists each get a copy of Blackout by Marc Elsberg! Now it’s your turn to vote for your favorite entry, and that winner will also get a $100 gift card to Powell’s Books! Take a gander, and vote below. Voting is open until Saturday, 5/27 at 11:45 PM EST. Good luck!
ENTRY #1: watt women BY SIERRA
I would survive a blackout through enterprising means. I would most likely create an underground hierarchical ring selling batteries and flashlights, among other light sources, which would be commodities. Only females could be members, because even though the world went dark, women would refuse to go back to the depressed, repressed days of the Dark Ages. Our group’s elite would be known as Watt Women, and would deal with the more precious lights, and our lower ranked would be known as the Gas Gals, and would manage gas lighting such as lanterns. Through this we would be able to trade for other necessities such as food, water, and hygiene products. Our headquarters would be a haven, and the most lit place for miles. It would be a beacon to break through the dark veil and bring balance to a blacked out world; a world that so savagely reminded us that sans technology, humans are but soft sophisticated animals.
ENTRY #2: STEAMPUNK AND HORSES BY BECKY
1. Hoard matches like they’re the next Beanie Babies craze. (Also, look into getting some saltpeter ingredients.)
2. Get a horse. Preferably non-carnivorous, but hey, if you’re on a small island in the UK and that’s all you can get…hire Puck Connolly to catch one for you. (In this case, you also wanna find a herd of sheep, pigs, capybaras, or something so your ride is less likely to nibble on you and your friends.)
3. Once you have your horse, visit the nearest university’s zoology prof and find out the closest bioluminescent flora/fauna you can cultivate. (Because the less you have to mess around with that saltpeter, the better your chances as future post-apocalyptic concert harpsichordist.)
4. Also now that you have that horse, snatch up all the pre-made BBQ sauce you can get your hands on…there’s a LOT of grillin’ in your future.
5. Gather all the steampunk reading you can unearth and take notes on your favorite innovations to work on and/or invest in. Be sure to ignore those that require the help of the fey or magical creatures, they’re more headache than it’s worth.
6. Once you’ve cultivated a good batch of bioluminescent organisms to provide light and perfected your steampunk inventions, you can split your time between kicking back and reading while your steam-driven automatons run the house and – providing you haven’t had any untoward incidents with the saltpeter – working on your concert harpsichordist skills.