It starts with the dogs. They won't stop barking. And then the earth shrugs - 8.9 on the Richter scale. It's the world's biggest earthquake since Lisbon in 1755, and it doesn't hit California or Japan or Mexico, but New Madrid, Missouri, a sleepy town on the Mississippi River. Seismologists had predicted the scope of the disaster . . . but no one listened." "Within minutes, there is nothing but chaos and ruin from St. Louis to Vicksburg, from Kansas City to Louisville. Every bridge down, every highway torn, every house gone." "America's heartland has fallen into the nightmare known as the Rift - a fault line in the earth that wrenchingly exposes the fractures in American society itself. As a strange white mist smelling of sulfur rises from the crevassed ground, the real terror begins for the survivors, who will soon envy the dead, including Jason Adorns, a teenager separated from his mother; Nick Ruford, an African-American engineer searching for his estranged daughter; Noble Frankland, the TV preacher whose visions of hell have become all too real; Larry Hallock, a technician working frantically to prevent a nuclear meltdown at his power station; and Omar Paxton, a sheriff and Ku Klux Klansman who seeks racial vengeance in the turmoil of disaster."
About the author
The Rift is a novel by author Walter Jon Williams. Published in 1999, it is a 726 page (hardbound) epic concerning the effects of a massive earthquake in Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Largely using the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquake as a base, he depicts the breakdown of infrastructure that would result if an earthquake of equal magnitude were to occur today.
The title of the novel is a double-entendre. It is a reference to the theory that the New Madrid quake was the result of a failed rifting of North America, but also to the deep racial and social divides that are portrayed throughout the story.