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Ben H. Winters

Ben H. WintersBen H. Winters is the author of six novels, including The Last Policeman, an Best Book of July, 2012. His other books include Bedbugs, Android Karenina, the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the middle-grade novels The Mystery of the Everything and The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, a Bank Street Best Book of 2011 and an Edgar Award nominee. Ben is also the author of many plays and musicals for children and adults, and he has written for national and local publications including the Chicago Tribune, Slate, and the Huffington Post.


The Last Policeman: This book does not go gentle into that good night

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

What if the world really would end in the next six months and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it? What would you do? Would you quit your job and start doing everything on your “bucket list?” Cash in all your savings and plan to party ‘til the end? Look up old friends and lost family members? Hunt down people who had done you wrong? Devote yourself to doing good works? Or would you stay in your home town and try to maintain a sense of normalcy?

This is the premise of Ben H. Winters’s novel The Last Policeman (2012). The book is a police procedural, set in the present day, with one big difference. In the world of Hank Palace, the main character and first-person narrator, astrophysicists have identified a large asteroid on a collision course with earth. It will strike in early October. There is no error, t... Read More

Countdown City: 77 days and counting

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City (2013) is Ben H. Winters’s second book in the pre-apocalyptic trilogy that began with The Last Policeman. Hank Palace is no longer a cop in Concord, New Hampshire; police functions have been nationalized, but he still wants to help people and try to maintain order in the two and a half months that remain before Maia, a fifteen-kilometer-wide asteroid, hits the earth.

Hank’s old babysitter asks him to find her husband who disappeared a few days earlier. Missing persons are almost impossible to locate; many people are “going Bucket List,” leaving their lives to do things they’ve always wanted to do before the end comes. Others are joining doomsday cults. There is no internet, phone service or e-mail and in fact most of... Read More

World of Trouble: Asks the big questions

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

We all have that friend, family member or co-worker who thinks speculative fiction is stupid. To be fair, they have a lot of ammunition for this short-sighted view; the Star Wars prequels, vampire-boyfriend sagas and numerous homogenized series with trashy covers. Ben H. Winters, however, is the secret defensive weapon in our arsenal, and the LAST POLICEMAN  series is the smart, thinking-person’s SF you can offer as a rebuttal.

World of Trouble (2014) is the final book in the trilogy. In  The Last Policeman, we met Hank Palace, the titular character. The world is going to be struck by a large asteroid, and all the projections show the results will be the end of life on earth. Bruce Will... Read More

Underground Airlines: A chilling alternate history thriller

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

“Time makes things worse; bad is faster than good; wickedness is a weed and does not wither on its own — it grows and spreads.”

Imagine that Abe Lincoln was assassinated before the Civil War started and that the North and South, instead of fighting, compromised, drawing up an agreement that allowed slavery to exist in perpetuity in four Southern states. Fast forward to the modern day and imagine that you were a black man in one of those states, that you had escaped your slavery in a cattle slaughterhouse, and had been living a free life in a Northern state for two years. Imagine that the U.S. Marshals Service finally caught you and gave you the choice of going back to the slaughterhouse or working for the Marshals, hunting down escaped slaves like yourself and turning them over to the government.

That is the disturbing premise of Read More

Golden State: Another frightening alternate history by Winters

Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Here’s another frightening alternate history thriller by Ben H. Winters. If you loved his 2016 Underground Airlines, like I did, you’ll want to give Golden State (2019) a try. It’s set in a near-future California (or some part of California) where lying has been criminalized due to the fall-out from the disastrous events that occurred when certain leaders of the United States kept deceiving the citizens. (I will say that one good thing about the current US administration is that it’s providing a wealth of fodder to speculative fiction authors!)

To uphold the truth, there is surveillance everywhere. Everything is on the record. Even logs of personal daily activities and all receipts... Read More

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: For a dose of crazy genius

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that, as an unfortunate side-effect, may cause drastically rearranged geography, rampant mutation, or major extinction events.

Under the editorial direction of John Joseph Adams, this anthology offers an impressively varied view on this archetypical character. Some stories refer back to mad geniuses you’ll be familiar with (Frankenstein, Lex Luthor). Some of them feature ... Read More