Destiny by [Hansen, Carl Howe]Destiny is no ordinary sailing book.

Indeed, it is part sci-fi/part adventure, with sailing strewn into the mix, while catastrophic events unfold in a race against time. Carl Howe Hansen foreshadows his tale with a stormy sea-setting off the coast of Maine. Aboard a hand-built, wooden schooner named Destiny, a young woman struggles to manage the vessel while tending to an unconscious crewmember. In the following paragraph, Hansen jolts back in time five days and starts revealing a series of events that hurl his reader through an American apocalypse.

“Starting with a collision between an oil tanker and a fishing vessel resulting in the spillage of thousands of gallons of crude oil, the story starts its downward spiral that ultimately leaves the entire Eastern seaboard powerless in an unprecedented environmental disaster. The government’s response to the spill is to use an untested new type of biological instrument called E07, a petroleum-eating bacterium that thrives in water. Intentions are well and good as the bacteria rapidly consume the spill. However, panic ensues as the realization develops that there is no way to control it. Driven shoreward, the bacteria devour any petroleum-based object in its path. Fiberglass fishing boats and pleasure craft alike are literally consumed from their waterlines up. And once ashore, E07 runs rampant, devouring car tires, electrical wiring, plumbing, computer infrastructures, clothing, even roads and highways. Once the power grid fails, our everyday world is threatened as society is thrown into a tailspin toward a pre-industrialized age.”

Furthermore, Destiny is the story of a family caught in the middle of the disaster. Two brothers are at the core: one, the inventor of E07, is burdened with the task and responsibility of finding a means to end its spread; the other, a thoughtful eccentric, whose history may hold keys to survival on an island yet unaffected by the scourge. It is his daughter who sails Destiny through the stormy opening scene in a last-ditch rescue attempt. Destiny, immune to the plastic-eating bacteria, may well be a magic carpet that rescues the family from the mayhem of a frightened, desperate, and deteriorating society on the mainland.

Destiny is a fun-to-read thriller that strikes a blow at the “essentials” of American modern life, challenging our over-dependence on petroleum. What would we do if the power grid failed permanently? Who would we turn to if our government shut down in an overwhelming crisis? As a result, where would we go if our households became uninhabitable? How could we even get where we wanted if our cars, highways, and airports were rendered inoperable? And in the case of Hanson’s E07, even sailboats — the ultimate escape pods — are useless if made out of fiberglass (and most are). On and on and on it goes — unraveling.

Carl Howe Hanson’s Destiny is a story that offers occasion for pleasure and pause in its telling, confronting the reader with an unthinkable scenario that may well be inevitable.

Destiny: Book Review by Carl Howe Hansen (Maine Authors Publishing, 2015, 364 pages)