San Francisco Book Review for
Was a Time When
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Was a Time When: A Novel That Asks, "What Happens WHEN, Not IF, Resource Depletion, Population Pressures, and Climate Change Push The World of Our Grandchildren Into a Great Collapse?"
By Sam Penny
TwoPenny Publications, $14.98, 232 pages

Star Rating: 3 out of 5

CosandJo is a young Neu-human archeologist in the year 3100 when he makes an astonishing discovery – the recorded memoirs of one Samuel Julian Hardy. Child genius, scientist, realist, survivalist, and eventual leader, Sam Hardy has left behind an amazing treasure – an eye witness account of the collapse of human civilization. Sam’s account covers the years between 2015 and 2100 and describes the trajectory of the failing economy, the occurrence of multiple natural disasters, the rampant break-out of war, and the world-wide pandemics, all of which eventually decimated the world’s population to less than a billion inhabitants. Fascinated by this personal account, CosandJo and his colleagues eagerly listen to Sam’s retold experiences, determined to learn what they can so as to ensure that their Neu-human society doesn’t make the same mistakes.

Once you wrap your head around the idea that Penny’s book is meant to be a sort of on-going Worse-Case Scenario, then you can relax and start to enjoy the intellectual exercise it embodies. While the timing of the on-going disasters—both man-made and natural—border on the suspiciously convenient, there’s no denying that the events themselves have every probability of happening, especially in light of how our current society views things like conservation. While I do wish Penny had given more props to those groups and efforts that are focused on renewable energy and conservation (instead of simply painting our current society as being only made up of complete and total dunderheads), I do still appreciate the fact that most of the events portrayed in Was A Time When have the potential to be spot-on at some point in the future. With a solid timeline and a keen eye toward cause-and-effect, Penny paints an intriguing picture, not of What Might Have Been, but more of What Probably Will Be.