Alas, No : *Countdown City* by Ben H. Winters

I just finished Countdown City, the second book in Ben H. Winters’ “The Last Policeman” trilogy. Like the previous installment, it was quite good.

Mysteries are generally not a genre I read much of anymore. However, the premise of these books intrigued when I first heard about them. The main character, Henry Palace, is a police detective in Concord, New Hampshire. The twist is that there is a massive asteroid hurtling toward Earth––everyone knows that the impact will occur within the year, and society is falling apart around Palace. Nonetheless, he goes on solving crimes.

It sounds a bit goofy and contrived, but Winters is a very good writer, and Henry Palace is a great character (albeit a frustrating one, at times). While the details of the mystery at hand serve to move the plot along, the larger story is one of a person trying to find some meaning in the face of the impending collapse of human society.

The third and final installment, World Of Trouble, is out, but I have to admit to feeling a bit of reluctance to read it. I tend to avoid post-apocalyptic stuff these days because, as much as it embarasses me to admit it, the subject matter is just to depressing. If I want to feel like we are all doomed, there are plenty of non-fiction opportunities for that. While these books are, technically pre-apocalyptic, I get the sense that there is not going to be some last-minute reprieve to prevent the asteroid Maia from colliding with the earth. I have grown to like Det. Henry Palace (and his dog Houdini), and I am not sure I really want to read through to what I imagine to be their eventual demise.

By Pete Brown

All posts

  1. It's morning in America.
  2. My *Serial* think-piece
  3. Cod vacations
  4. Link Dump - 2014-11-22
  5. Railing
  6. Found a sunny spot
  7. 1970s Legos
  8. DANZIG!
  9. Link Dump - 2014-11-21
  10. Just keep screaming "BENGHAZI!" even louder.
  11. It's not really a "dog whistle" if everyone can hear it.
  12. Paul Smith & Peter Brews - *Frozen By Sight*
  13. Link Dump - 2014-11-20
  14. Clearly, I am just a statist stooge lacking any perspective or self-awareness.
  15. Link Dump - 2014-11-19
  16. A very helpful related search
  17. "Jack Deth is back, and he's never even been here before!"
  18. Anyone need a 16MB memory card?
  19. Link Dump - 2014-11-18
  20. "…and the rest of the team should be focused on project work."
  21. Comics I'm reading: *Wytches*
  22. It was a bad idea to even suggest the loan program should be profitable in the first place.
  23. Link Dump - 2014-11-17
  24. Because who needs public infrastructure?
  25. Dilbert is not funny.
  26. Pink Floyd
  27. Link dump - 2014-11-16
  28. Mobile friendly
  29. Dave Winer's Radio3
  30. Resistance to change
  31. That pope
  32. Twitter's strategy statement, or Why we can't have nice things
  33. Happy birthday, Hedy Lamarr
  34. Your data-mining sucks.
  35. Started reading *Locke & Key*
  36. The biggest threat to the coming Democratic majority is the Democrats.
  37. I think I am going to need some new running shoes soon.
  38. *A Nightmare On Elm Street* turns 30
  39. *Foundation* trilogy maybe coming to TV?
  40. "I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act."
  41. For the eleventy-billionth time, pointing out racism != "playing the race card."
  42. Nobody likes paying taxes, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have them.
  43. Just give me a goddamned RSS feed already
  44. Marvel Unlimited is not so great.
  45. My in-depth analysis of the 2014 mid-term elections
  46. Massachusetts Republicans
  47. Birthright #1
  48. *Phase IV* is on Netflix!
  49. Kids these days
  50. *Aliens* documentary
  51. Don't run, Elizabeth! Don't run!
  52. New album from I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness!
  53. I suppose it is proof of *something*, anyway…
  54. Jack Bruce
  55. You seem to have missed something.
  56. Why monitor something you're not going to do anything about?
  57. Meg & Mog
  58. Gandhi never said that, and even if he had, it doesn't make any sense.
  59. Airmail 2.0 seems like it might be cool.
  60. Plato, Popper, & word processing
  61. Technological change vs. cultural change
  62. Mark Lanegan Band - *Phantom Radio*
  63. Sleater-Kinney
  64. BE AFRAID!
  65. Medium's on it, bro!
  66. Why have no white leaders come forward to speak out against this culture of violence?
  67. Predicting the future without knowing the past
  68. "Free v. Not free" is overly simplistic.
  69. Little pink houses, for you and me.
  70. Surprise! Tort reform doesn't work.
  71. A useful roadmap
  72. Not much longer now…
  73. Good intro to David Fincher's visual style
  74. "Text is the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology ever, period."
  75. "Don't feed the trolls is a cop-out.
  76. Childhood traumas: The can lid
  77. Deliberately missing the point
  78. Jose Saramago on writing via keyboard
  79. Freshman year of college is calling.
  80. Jargon needed: The opposite of "solutioning"
  81. Started reading Jane Smiley's *Some Luck*
  82. Trail map - Highland Park, Temple Woods, & Poet's Seat in Greenfield, MA
  83. What's the worst that could happen?
  84. Field Report - *Marigolden*
  85. Both sides do it.
  86. You may have built part of it, just not the whole thing.
  87. With friends like these…
  88. Neil Killick on slicing heuristics
  89. Oh, like that could ever happen.
  90. It's a luxury not to have to worry about racism.
  91. Hell #9438
  92. I think it's time for Batman to take a break.
  93. Caribou - *Can't Do Without You*
  94. The right-wing carbon-copy machine
  95. War forever
  96. Finished Jeff VanderMeer's *Authority*
  97. IT'S NOT A TOOMAH!
  98. Agent Cooper and the Kingdom Of the Crystal Skull
  99. Disconnecting pay from performance
  100. Hosting my own stuff
  101. All Ebola, all the time
  102. The kids these days
  103. Laboratories of democracy!
  104. Ridley Scott's new movie sounds terrible.
  105. *Gotham* is a pretty disappointing show so far.
  106. Again with Heidegger and the Nazis
  107. Experimenting with posting from Drafts
  108. The new phone is here.
  109. Crap Architecture
  110. iPhone Parking Lot
  111. Starting Proust
  112. *The Conspiracy* (2012)
  113. Immigration reform & deficit hawkery
  114. Facebook: Evil, dumb, or both?
  115. The Apple tech press is weird.
  116. VHS v. Betamax
  117. The answer is always "n + 1".
  118. Conservative intellectuals
  119. Zappos is creepy.
  120. Your phone is not the problem.
  121. Deconstruction
  122. Inspirational
  123. Process improvement
  124. Thanks, but finding interesting stuff to read is *my* job…
  125. Sorry, but writing down all your passwords on a piece of paper is a terrible idea.
  126. People like the idea of privacy and security.
  127. Complicated things are complicated.
  128. The Prometheus sequel might not suck.
  129. That technology thing you like
  130. Priorities, people
  131. WAR!
  132. Heidegger's *Schwarzen Hefte*, or "Leaving Godwin's Law in the rear-view mirror"
  133. Because why spend money on keeping things from exploding and falling apart?
  134. Nice public broadcasting you've got there
  135. Vladimir's Big Adventure
  136. 42
  137. Remember, the government can't do anything right.
  138. Sure, there are ways that *Batman Vs Superman* might not suck.
  139. CVS is getting out of the cigarette business.
  140. Trying out Beats Music
  141. Fine, we'll offer a tablet if we have to, but we're not happy about it.
  142. The synthetic unity of experience
  143. No, we shouldn't go back to Project Management 101.
  144. You should go read *The Unwritten*.
  145. The Pope's Blood Is Missing!
  146. State of the Union predictions
  147. Childhood traumas: "The Shadow Man"
  148. Yay! You hit your KPI. Too bad no one cares.
  149. I want to like *Helix*, but…
  150. I'm sure ACORN is somehow to blame for this.
  151. Yes, your explanation is simpler if you toss out the complicated parts.
  152. Mike Huckabee, expert on women
  153. Thinking before you write
  154. *Wildewoman* - Lucius
  155. Bringing the Catholic Church into a year that has four digits
  156. "Do what you love" and unexamined privilege
  157. Perhaps your secret sauce is a bit too secret.
  158. Hate the show, not the venue.
  159. In which I end my brief career as an employee engagement consultant
  160. FUD As a Service
  161. Yes, clearly your belief system is threatened by all 2% of us.
  162. Crippling injuries build character.
  163. *Wolf Hall* - Hilary Mantel
  164. Saving bookstores
  165. I'm not sure there is a good answer to the technical problems of social media.
  166. In which I kick off my new career as an "employee engagement" consultant
  167. Internet activism
  168. *Grasshopper On the Road* by Arnold Lobel
  169. Syfy's *Helix* seems like a mixed bag.
  170. The things one thinks about in the wee hours
  171. GMOs and the Monsanto boogeyman
  172. Your tax dollars at work
  173. let.ter - Taking minimalism a bit far
  174. Holacracy
  175. Yes, people really do still blog.
  176. Healthcare is expensive because people are trying to make money off of it.
  177. Duck Dynasty
  178. No one cares about your private cloud.
  179. Organizational "culture" discussions are mostly empty
  180. bell hooks on Sheryl Sandberg's *Lean In*
  181. So there's a new Death Angel album...
  182. No, Lacan is a just a bad writer.
  183. Money is speech
  184. Clearly
  185. Parking
  186. Nightbreed, The Cabal Cut
  187. It's like when we were all going to boycott Facebook.
  188. It depends on what you mean by "free will."
  189. Unhelpful advice
  190. ZOMG! Fingerprints!!!
  191. People don't scale
  192. No–stronger encryption is not the answer
  193. Movies that scared me
  194. Epistemology
  195. Bespoke
  196. Califone, *Stitches*
  197. Yes, deals with Mr. Morden are likely to end badly.
  198. We want INFORMATION!
  199. Passive-aggressive politeness
  200. Agile is not always the answer to everything.
  201. *My Amityville Horror* is not a great documentary, but it's worth watching.
  202. Google cars
  203. Grant Hart, *The Argument*
  204. Really, DC? REALLY?
  205. Washed Out, *Paracosm*
  206. Suspension of disbelief
  207. This is why bookstores are a niche business.
  208. True Widow, *Circumambulation*
  209. Personal experience v. policy
  210. Concern-trolling Gmail and "the cloud"
  211. Phosphorescent, *Muchacho*
  212. The Washington Post and AWS
  213. St. Patrick’s Day
  214. "You are wrong, and here are the reasons why."
  215. I find it unlikely that VMWare is going to suddenly embrace commodity cloud.
  216. Sometimes a methodology can be taken too far.
  217. "Let's just stick with what we've got..."
  218. What is good about *The Walking Dead* will also be its undoing.
  219. I'm not even sure your enterprise private cloud *could* succeed.
  220. If you haven't already, go watch *Dredd*
  221. The new How To Destroy Angels album
  222. A bit more regarding meetings, and how they suck
  223. Meetings
  224. And next, our plan for when we fail to plan
  225. Finally looked at the NYT's Snow Fall thing
  226. Time-tracking
  227. Prophecy
  228. More guns
  229. Guns
  230. Bold Leadership
  231. Hanlon's Razor
  232. That legacy stuff
  233. It's not about what box someone wants to put it in
  234. Tuhin Kumar on content in a digital era
  235. Money, politics, and Machiavelli
  236. I am skeptical that your tax plan will work any better.
  237. No, that's NOT the definition of insanity.
  238. The Walking Dead, now with more zombies
  239. The original Prometheus script seems interesting
  240. Commonplace is kind of nifty
  241. That Kant was a smart guy.
  242. Petraeus
  243. The World War Z trailer
  244. You should have bicycles
  245. The technorati fallacy
  246. One of my favorite types of requests
  247. The Lucasfilm thing
  248. The hermeneutics of automated configuration management
  249. I kind of agree with Descartes that philosophy should be done later in life
  250. It's not political discussion if you're just yelling at me.
  251. Complicated things are complicated (October 2012)
  252. The forest, the trees, and the DVDs
  253. Undecided voters
  254. David Quammen's new book seems good, but not sure I'll read it
  255. Found a new philosophy podcast
  256. Yes, pitty the poor billionaires and their thankless lives of toil.
  257. The ongoing adventures of Walter Bishop
  258. One can do a lot worse than "good enough."
  259. Is that a missile in your yard, or are you just trying to deter something?
  260. That's fine, but Aristotle still makes for tedious reading.
  261. Nevermind came out 20 years ago today
  262. Messing around with OpenPhoto
  263. Safety nets
  264. So, the Romney thing
  265. Your data-mining sucks
  266. Started watching Homeland
  267. The Clint Eastwood thing
  268. Enjoy the current plethora of music streaming choices while you can
  269. I invoke Sturgeon's Law
  270. Why would the FTC have anything to say about Twitter?
  271. The Lance Armstrong thing
  272. Actually, I expect Todd Akin to announce his candidacy for President any day now
  273. A lot of Can
  274. Finished the first series of *Downton Abbey*
  275. So Paul Ryan is Romney's VP pick
  276. Writing apps
  277. Distorted markets
  278. App.net, or, why it's still tough to compete with free
  279. Unfortunately, gun ownership and car ownership are not the same thing
  280. A bit more on the HBO thing
  281. OS upgrades
  282. Or I could just go listen to the album
  283. Monster Movie Week!
  284. As goes Sparrow...
  285. Why is Twitter more interesting to me than Facebook?
  286. Fantastical + Entourage + Exchange = WEIRDNESS
  287. Network neutrality, obviously a communist plot
  288. Nope, advertising just sucks
  289. Reading
  290. Interesting, but seems like asking for trouble
  291. Who needs it!
  292. Advantage, Mutt
  293. Do you want the answer, or not?
  294. ACA coverage and systems failure
  295. To-do lists
  296. So long, Weather Underground
  297. Checked baggage
  298. The challenge of spending any amount of time in Boston
  299. From the $2 bins at the record store
  300. I haven't seen *Prometheus*, but....
  301. The HBO thing
  302. It shouldn't matter which device I'm using
  303. Not exactly random, but good listening
  304. The Dark Knight... meh
  305. Because Kubrick is a good director, and Ridley Scott is not
  306. Country Roads, Take Me Home
  307. Memorial Day
  308. The revolution will not be Harvardized
  309. Chrome + Google Reader + space bar = ANNOYING
  310. Oddball behind-the-scenes photos
  311. The Times-Picayune, and chasing the wrong problem
  312. Experimenting with Pelican
  313. Readlists
  314. The classroom as an open, iterative project
  315. Yes, the Michael Wolff article
  316. Jevon's Paradox and the Cloud
  317. War Hazard Eliminated!
  318. Unintended Consequences
  319. Limbaugh blah blah blah
  320. You’re playing their game
  321. I highly doubt that AppleTV will magically kill the cable companies
  322. Breitbart
  323. I’m not sure I follow *you*, Mr. Romney…
  324. Maybe they think I’m going to buy another one?
  325. A bit more on The Shining
  326. Obviously, The Shining is *really* about the capitalist oppression of the working class
  327. 47 days of music seems like not that much…
  328. Regrettably, a post on campaign finance reform
  329. Why stop with in-app purchases?
  330. Opera would have saved the Lindbergh baby
  331. Actually, I would prefer not to deal with a human
  332. Ip Man
  333. Yes, but I’m still one one who has to decline the meeting invite
  334. Bogeyman
  335. Good streaming stuff I've found on Netflix: *The Blob (1988)*
  336. Good streaming stuff I've found on Netflix: *Isolation*
  337. Good streaming stuff I've found on Netflix: The Crack In the World
  338. BASIC
  339. In which I am paid back for 10+ years of scoffing
  340. The Comcast/Netflix thing
  341. My power is beyond your understanding!
  342. Out-stupiding the TSA
  343. I see what you did there
  344. The problem with *Stargate:Universe*
  345. That "15 albums" thing
  346. Pedestrian v. motorist v. bicycle
  347. Sorry guys, it's still just a hobby
  348. Sunny side up, hold the overflowing manure pits
  349. That's an interesting definition you have there
  350. James Cameron v. the philistines
  351. Sometimes zombies and politics do mix.
  352. Damn hell ass boobies (2006)
  353. Whither censure?
  354. Stealing TV, Part II
  355. OCTOBER?!
  356. Chasing boogeymen
  357. Nice vetting job, folks
  358. In a move that gives bootlicks and sycophants everywhere a bad name...
  359. As goes South Dakota... well, hopefully not
  360. A discovery that should surprise exactly no one
  361. And no, I don’t care what anyone was wearing
  362. The worst idea I’ve ever heard
  363. Once again, ladies and gentleman, the professionals at work
  364. Supporting the freedom-haters
  365. Why I’m glad I’m not a miner
  366. Say it some more, because that will make it true
  367. Music update - February 2006
  368. The Corporation
  369. Watching TV without having TV
  370. Google strikes again (2006)
  371. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
  372. Touchy subject
  373. Take my ports. Please.
  374. NUTS!
  375. One year older than I was at this time last year
  376. Gaim 2.0 beta is surprisingly unannoying
  377. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
  378. Lewis Black
  379. Uhhhhhhh...
  380. The Yes Men
  381. And again, my apologies
  382. I did it for you, Damien
  383. DRUNKEN CHENEY KILLS AGAIN!!!
  384. The site may be slow today
  385. Electronic mediocrity
  386. Maybe they are better off...
  387. Angry Dick strikes again
  388. Capote
  389. The gang that couldn’t shoot straight
  390. Why I don’t believe in a lot of stuff
  391. Wherein Pete despairs
  392. A long overdue return to an old favorite
  393. The Plame Name Blame Game Revisited (with pictures)
  394. Meanwhile, in TV Land...
  395. Hide your puppies
  396. I like VoIP
  397. From the “Oh, ya THINK?!” Dept:
  398. More good stuff (hopefully) from the Beeb
  399. The Monkey and the Sock Puppet, Part VI
  400. So, Mr. Attorney General—what questions will you answer?
  401. The hearings are on.
  402. Apples and oranges
  403. And in somewhat less serious news...
  404. Tune in tomorrow. For nothing.
  405. War in name only
  406. What? Something good from Cincinnati?
  407. Lookee here—I got me a domain!
  408. I will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a scandal today
  409. I suppose that’s one way of putting it
  410. Hooray for books I’ve never read
  411. The State of the Union (in Happy Happy Gumdrop Land)
  412. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
  413. Flirting with the dark side
  414. Countdown to a big waste of time
  415. What if you had a demonstration and no one cared?
  416. When the hair was big and the booze flowed like water
  417. Weekend music update
  418. The New York Times finally throws down
  419. Today’s project
  420. What not to be looking for on a slow Friday afternoon
  421. The broken record continues to spin
  422. Long time, no music
  423. Yes, I’ve gotten sucked into Battlestar Galactica
  424. At least someone is putting up a fight
  425. More legal contortions
  426. More on Iran
  427. It’s not playing politics when we do it.
  428. Only 20 more hours to go
  429. Original intent
  430. And Iran, Iran so far away, Iran all night and day
  431. You say Alito, I say whatever
  432. Tick, tick, tick, tick
  433. I don’t want to live with the bears
  434. Quick TV update
  435. Still nowhere on the wiretapping
  436. Alas Kermit, we hardly knew ye
  437. Reading too much into The West Wing
  438. A question, sir...
  439. Blogging about blogging
  440. A few changes
  441. HOWTO: The Straw Man
  442. Year-end music round-up
  443. Again with the wire-tapping
  444. The Great Wire-Tapping Caper That Almost Was
  445. King Kong is a giant piece of shit
  446. I’m genuinely shocked
  447. If only we were this interested in our own elections
  448. Angry Dick
  449. The Fellowship of the Wardrobe
  450. Sorry for the delay
  451. The time grows near
  452. Site news - October 2005
  453. Quote of the Day
  454. Serenity
  455. Stop! You’re killin’ me
  456. I want something like War of the Worlds, but on TV
  457. Forensic Show #23
  458. It’s TV time again
  459. Nothing to see here
  460. Going from bad to worse to...
  461. The Return of the Puzzled Chimp
  462. Google Talk
  463. The Crummy Governor vs. the Worst Newspaper on Earth
  464. Liquid Television strikes back from beyond the grave
  465. Voting != Democracy
  466. He’s not lying
  467. Trying to maintain my sense of perspective
  468. The perfect album?
  469. Movies, movies, movies
  470. Yes, Becky, there really is a new post
  471. A bit of background
  472. Leaving, on a jet plane
  473. He also likes puppies and helps crippled children
  474. Consequences of spending two straight days in the rack room
  475. No one ever said beggars can’t be complainers
  476. Again with this story
  477. Music update - July 2005
  478. PLAME NAME BLAME GAME!
  479. Whither Rove?
  480. How quaint.
  481. Intellects vast and cool...
  482. and... They’re off!
  483. “I have a secret plan to win the war...”
  484. I’m back
  485. You say quagmire, I say... well... quagmire.
  486. Thank you, FARK
  487. ZOMBIES!
  488. On second thought...
  489. Worst... Interviewer... EVER.
  490. Not with a bang, but a whimper
  491. So it actually didn’t suck
  492. More on the filibuster debate
  493. YES!!
  494. Going nuclear/constitutional
  495. Worth a listen?
  496. Music update - May 2005)
  497. Well, at least it’s not wooden...
  498. Who would have guessed I’d make two posts about the National Weather Service in as many weeks?
  499. Because the government doesn’t have anything better to do...
  500. More on taxes
  501. Happy April 15th
  502. Normally, I welcome change, but...
  503. Long live the Death Tax
  504. Damn hell ass boobies (2005)
  505. Woohoo! It’s Windows Update day!
  506. Wherein Pete refuses to throw his lot in with the fanboys
  507. METAL!!!
  508. The Republicans step up their war on the judiciary
  509. This is the coolest thing EVER
  510. Your tax dollars at work - April 2004
  511. April Fools Day
  512. Groundhog Day, Part II
  513. The devil movies always get me.
  514. IM Annoyances
  515. Wherein Pete attempts to give Congressional Republicans the benefit of the doubt.
  516. What the hell?
  517. I suggest we start a pool...
  518. Drill, drill, drill!
  519. This is getting out of hand.
  520. I, for one, say “Woohoo!”
  521. the gates... THE GATES!!
  522. More “indecency”
  523. And again...
  524. Where have I heard this before?
  525. Anybody want gmail?
  526. Dirty, dirty titties
  527. It’s true because I say it’s true.
  528. Odds bodkins! It has failed again!
  529. One man’s Conservative...
  530. Google strikes again! (2005)
  531. wah-nah NAAHHH nah-nah
  532. More on the latest $80 billion circling the drain
  533. You just can’t write stuff this good.
  534. Argh, I say.
  535. A rose is a rose.
  536. I’d say good riddance, if only I didn’t fear something even worse
  537. Sorry...
  538. “Horse?” asked the Cart, “I don’t need no stinkin’ horse.”
  539. Amusement
  540. The bottom-end of 2004
  541. How Bush Won
  542. New Music
  543. Foolishness
  544. Good news, I think...
  545. The first of many, I’m sure...
  546. Numbers, numbers, numbers
  547. Remember that thing I said yesterday?
  548. We have answered your question, now please go away.
  549. Alright, we’ve fixed that problem. What’s next?
  550. Site news - November 2004
  551. A brief tale of political shenanigans
  552. More good web radio
  553. Another post-election site
  554. If we say it enough, that makes it true, right?
  555. Sorry, everybody
  556. What the hell *is* an activist judge, anyway?
  557. Apologies
  558. Nonsense
  559. Some new music
  560. Your argument is very convincing… if only it were not a tangled web of lies.
  561. The music is back online
  562. What is wrong with our culture, summed up in a single amusing anecdote
  563. Odds and Ends
  564. SCIENCE!
  565. Making a bad situation worse
  566. Derrida, Part II
  567. From the “It Couldn’t Happen To a Better Bunch of People” Dept.:
  568. The Faith-Based Presidency
  569. I am rather disgusted at the moment
  570. Two weeks, man… two weeks…
  571. It’s been fun, Linux, but I just don’t think this is going to work out.