Book – The Calculations of Rational Men

The Calculations of Rational Men by Daniel Godfrey book cover

A story about nuclear fallout during the Cold War? This sounds like a job for our irrational Steve Taylor-Bryant as he dives into the new book from Daniel Godfrey...

Anything even remotely Cold War era that comes into our esteemed offices gets put on my desk due to my eternal dibs on all such projects. My fascination with all aspects of the nuclear age is never ending and there is so much great non-fiction available on the subject that when it comes to writing fiction about events that happen during that time it is incredibly difficult to give an audience something new and inventive whilst trying to beat the complete insanity of real events. One of the best ways to author remarkable stories set in and around the nuclear tensions is to imagine a missile goes off and to dive into the storytelling of survivors. You get more freedom to play in the alt-history sandpit than you do in the actual and when you give the reader well rounded characters that they can empathise with, care about, understand even then their stories of survival become very personal and are nearly all really great. So this is where I find Daniel Godfrey, author of the incredibly good The Synapse Sequence which I reviewed a while back here... The Synapse Sequence

Daniel is an incredibly talented writer who always gives you intriguing characters so putting people to care about into a nuclear fallout should be child’s play surely. Prisoners. He went with 500 male prisoners. Well, this is going to be tough, who cares about prisoners? Let’s find out.

The United Kingdom and her allies have been targeted in a widespread nuclear attack.

December 1962. Just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the five hundred men of HMP Queen's Bench have found themselves in the midst of a new thermonuclear nightmare.

We do not know the status of our towns and cities. We shall not know their fate for several days.

Prisoners, wardens and soldiers must now work together to forge a new future, even if some inside the shelter can only think of how to turn the situation to their personal advantage.

Radioactive fallout will present the greatest risk to health. Medical staff and supplies are available.

Caught in the very centre of the power struggles is Dr Joseph Marr. Just days into serving a life sentence for murder, he is given the responsibility for the health of all the men of HMP Queen's Bench. But the question for him now is: how does he ensure those in the shelter survive?

The Calculations of Rational Men is infuriatingly good, its also virtually impossible to review without giving out massive spoilers and ruining many intricate and well thought out plot twists. The book is predominantly a great tale of survival during nuclear fallout in the 1960’s despite being about those who maybe at a glance we wouldn’t necessarily deem as deserving but whose experiences grow on us and it becomes a great study of humanity and character under duress. It also flips about between 1960’s, an interview with a certain person in the mid-90’s and the life and family of a young lady in the present day which adds levels of intrigue and depth to an already well constructed story. It is also so much more than an alt-history tale of nuclear fallout, it has some much darker elements that become known as the book goes on and there are some serious nods to the work of psychologists like Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, and Ron Jones from Cubberley High School that fascinate and disgust in equal measure.

To go into any greater detail would ruin any reading experience that you could potentially have and so I won’t because I genuinely believe The Calculations of Rational Men to be a near perfect masterpiece that deserves to be discovered and consumed in a reader’s own way. It is a must buy for fans of the historical era, and those with a twisted psychological bent that needs feeding. Bravo Mr. Godfrey, bravo.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

Image/Synopsis -

Powered by Blogger.