In ILL WIND, an apocalyptic thriller by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason, a supertanker crashes into the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay, resulting in the largest oil spill in history. In a desperate bid to solve the problem, the oil company unleashes a microbe that eats oil onto the spill. Unknown to everyone except the man who created it, the microbe propagates through the air and mutates to eat anything made of petrocarbons, from gasoline to plastics, resulting in the collapse of transportation, communications and industry, and threatening civilization.
It works well as a thriller, with high stakes and a lot of action and good characters (except perhaps for the conservative cowboy who is constantly offended by anything liberal, including rock music–he’s likable but grating). Despite the strong premise, narrative voice and characterization, most of the suffering occurs off screen, making it hard to visualize how bad things would get in such a scenario. A lot of the primary conflict is instead contrived among parties fighting for principle (a main moral of the story appears to be that all centralized authority is bad, even if the alternative is violent anarchy) and who would rather put a ton of energy into fighting instead of just talking to each other and working out their differences.
Despite these complaints, I enjoyed the read and would recommend it to anybody interested in apocalyptic fiction in the thriller vein.