With two novels now wrapped inside one big cover, Rob Smith makes a gigantic statement in the fascinating game of “What If?” The scenario in his two Shrader Marks books, Night Voices and Keelhouse, now packaged together as Keelhouse, is riveting. What if a very large meteor struck the Earth, say, in Antarctica? What if that very large impact caused shifting of the fragile tectonic plates in the Pacific Rim? What if those shifts resulted in heavy volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tsunamis? What if the Antarctic ice melted as a result and the seas rose, not a few feet, but hundreds of feet? What would life on Earth be like then?
Rob focuses on a few Lake Ontario sailors — people on the dock only minimally acquainted with each other — who, to greater or lesser degrees, become fearful of the impending crisis and escape together in a flotilla of eight sailboats as the waters rise, the volcanic dust causes a new ice age, and survival becomes difficult. This small group eventually melds into a fairly efficient community living isolated somewhere in the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
The adventures of their escape as the world collapses around them create the first book, while a look at the community they have created during five years in exile provides subject material aplenty for the second as the Earth begins to warm and heal once more. There are bad guys, of course, and good guys. There are love stories, too, as the members of the community learn to respect and appreciate people they never would have selected in the world of the past and yet form bonds perhaps more meaningful than marriage. And there is quite a bit of sailing in this book as the sailors make their way from Lake Ontario and out the St. Lawrence Seaway toward their new lives.
As the protagonist, Shrader Marks discovers in himself a few skills that come in handy. He has the gift of the shaman and, as such, is able to communicate with some animals, primarily killer whales. It is from them that Shrader learns much about life beyond the sailors’ fragile Keelhouse settlement and is able to sense fragments of future events as well.
Obviously a sailor, Rob Smith shares his enthusiasm for our favorite activity in his books. He lives, writes, and sails on Ohio’s north coast. With at least eight books to his credit, Rob is not a new author. His Shrader Marks books are good examples of the depth of his creativity and insight into a future not one of us hopes to experience. His books are available on Amazon. His other fictional series, featuring a protagonist named McGowan, might also be a fun discovery.