By now we’re all familiar with the ‘handbook-as-novel’ concept in preparedness literature. You create a ‘how to’ guide and turn it into an illustrative story. It’s not a bad way to create a story, although you might wind up getting a little too heavy into repetitive detailed descriptions of gear (cough*Metalifed Python*cough).
Dean Ing, an author with some chops, wrote a book called ‘Pulling Through’. It was interesting not so much for the story, which was your average family-hunkering-down sort of yarn about a nuclear war, but rather for the fact that, literally, the second half of the book was a treatise on how to prepare to survive World War Three.
The story follows a bounty hunter who scoops up his latest charge just as nuclear bombs start exploding around his California neighborhood. He takes his charge to his home, which he’s had somewhat prepared for this sort of thing at the urging of his preparedness-as-fad sister. Eventually the rest of the extended family shows up and the story mostly chronicles the days they spend in the basement waiting for the worst of the fallout to subside. During this time they deal with inadequate ventilation, unexpected guests, escaped convicts, improvised lighting, improvised sanitation, improvised everything.
Dean Ing’s previous works are usually of a technical nature and Ing himself , in the second half of the book, paints the picture of himself as someone who has come to survivalism as a logical response to the threats of the time. The book came out around1983 which is right about where the new wave of survivalism was at it’s crest.
Is it a good read? It’s not bad…. it is quite realistic with people suffering the types of injuries and insults that you would expect in such a situation. People die of radiation poisoning and there’s plenty of descriptions of how that sort of misery looks. Gunplay? A shootout with real consequences, a standoff or two. Sex? Nope..a little hinted romance at the end, but that’s about it. Having read Ing’s other books, male/female pair bonding is not his strong suit.
What Ing’s strong suit is, however, is writing about technical things. In his personal life he’s been a hobbyist of airplanes, race cars, and other highly technical goodies. In short, he’s a good technical writer who, on occasion, can crank out a good book. (FYI, two of my favorites of his are ‘Spooker‘ and ‘Flying To Pieces‘.) The second half of ‘Pulling Through’ is Ing telling the reader about his experiments in surivivalism regarding technology and improvisation that he and his family have undertaken. Additionally, there’s a large chunk of that section of the book taken up with reprinting the instructions on how to make your own ‘Kearny Fallout Meter‘…an item which factors heavily in the story part of the book.
Good fiction makes you think and Ing does throw out more than a few situations in the book that make you wonder what you’d do in a similar situation. But, to be fair, he also throws in some oddball and esoteric details that show what a techie he really is.
Like a lot of books i like, this one is out of print. It turns up at the usual sources from time to time, though. This book isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. It isn’t as epic as others, with virtually all the story taking place over the course of a week or two and mostly in one location, but like ‘Alas Babylon’ it was written by someone trying to urge people to take nuclear survival seriously. It’s not a great book, but it isn’t a bad one… it’s a good choice for people who are a bit nostalgic for the days when we all thought WW3 was just moments away.
I’d be curious to know if he stuck with his interest in survivalism some 35 years later.