Sunday, December 16, 2007


Q: This is Buck Williams interviewing Doctor Nicholas Ozark at, uh, one fifteen AM on the morning of Thursday the, uh twenty-second. Hello, Doctor Ozark.

A: Hello, Buck.

Q: Doctor Ozark, I'd like to start things off by asking how you first learned about the, uh . . .

A: Synergistic field effect.

Q: Synergistic field effect, usually abbreviated as SFE. You know, I've heard people say that SFE really stands for "scary freaking Event".

A: You can say "fucking", Buck, I've heard the word before. I do work on a college campus, after all. Some of the business majors don't seem to know any other adjectives.

Q: Ah, ah, yes. Anyway, as I was saying, I'd be interested to hear how you first learned about the SFE.

A: It was after the Russian nuclear attack on Israel. With all that megatonnage going off, there should have been a huge spike in radiation levels around the world. There was, but not enough to account for all the radiation that was released.

Q: At the time, as I recall, there were theories that whatever defense the Israelis used might have absorbed some of the radiation.

A: That's right, but it was hard to construct a coherent hypothesis since nobody knew just what the Israelis did. I decided to assume that the Israeli defense, whatever it was, didn't absorb any radiation at all, that some other effect accounted for the missing radiation. What I eventually discovered was that the radiation was interacting with the Earth's magnetic field, and with the various electromagnetic fields produced by electrical equipment, and wound up being absorbed by living tissue.

Q: Can you explain in a nontechnical way how that works?

A: I can try. Basically, gamma rays are high-energy photons. They're affected by electromagnetic fields. Due to the SFE, the gamma rays were being directed towards the nervous systems of living organisms, and being absorbed by them. The result was something like the laser effect. The atoms making up the brain cells and nerve cells had their electrons raised to higher energy levels. Eventually, they reached a saturation point, and all the electrons returned to their original energy levels, giving off the energy they had absorbed all in one massive burst. It was like their nerve cells had all turned into lasers, and the energy caused their bodies to disintegrate.

Q: If all living organisms were affected, why did only people disappear? And why only certain people?

A: Because humans have the most complex nervous systems of any organism. We attracted the most radiation, and that meant that the saturation point hit us first.

Q: By "hit us first", do you mean to say that other species can expect the same thing to happen to them?

A: I think not. Once the saturation point was reached in humans, the synergistic effects that allowed the energy buildup to occur in the first place were dissipated. Unless we get another sudden burst of gamma radiation from another two thousand nuclear warheads going off at once, the synergistic field effect is gone for good.

Q: Okay, now, how does this explain why only certain people were affected. Why was every child under twelve affected, for instance?

A: The fact that their nervous systems were still developing made them particularly vulnerable.

Q: And how about those over twelve? About ten percent of them were also affected. Why that ten percent?

A: The answer to that isn't as clear. There seems to have been a secondary effect that came into play, a particular type of metal ornament interacted with all the other effects, and that led to people over twelve reaching the saturation point at the same time as the children.

Q: And the metal ornament in question was a cross?

A: A common type of pectoral cross, yes, typically associated with certain Protestant Christian sects.

Q: Now, when did you become aware that the saturation point, as you call it, was coming?

A: I first became aware that it was a possibility about two months ago. I didn't know for certain that it was going to happen. The Event itself was as much a surprise to me as it was to everyone else. I was still trying to figure out whether the Event might actually happen when it happened.

Q: What was your reaction when the Event occurred?

A: Horror. Guilt.

Q: Guilt? You felt guilty?

A: I still feel guilty. I know it's not rational. I know, intellectually, that I did everything that it was possible for me to do. But still, I was the only one in the world who even knew something was wrong. I was the only one who could have done something to stop it, and I didn't.

Q: Could you have stopped it? Knowing now what you know?

A: In theory, we could have kept the saturation point from being reached by shutting down enough electromagnetic fields. As a practical matter, that would have meant shutting down most of the world's power plants. Our whole civilization would have ground to a halt, causing even more death and destruction than the Event has.

Q: So there was going to be a massive catastrophe, no matter what.

A: That's right. As soon as the Russians set off their nuclear arsenal, the countdown to the Event began. At the time, as you'll recall, everyone thought that the world had managed to avoid a disaster, but it turned out that the disaster wasn't avoided, only delayed.

Q: But at least we don't have to worry about the Event being repeated.

A: Well, there are still thousands of nuclear weapons around the world, most of them here in the United States. If they were launched, it would start the countdown to another Event like the one we just went through.

Q: But nobody in his right mind would launch another nuclear attack, not after what just happened.

A: Somebody in Russia set off the first attack, and they had every reason to expect that the result would be every bit as catastrophic as the Event has been. The only way to be certain that there won't be a repetition of the Event would be the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Q: Do you think that's likely to happen?

A: Before the Event, I would have said not. Now that we've had firsthand experience of the effects, and know the cause, I think the leaders of the world's nuclear powers are going to have to give it some serious thought.

Q: Is that what you'll be telling President Fitzhugh when you meet him on Saturday?

A: Among other things, yes.

1 comment:

Abelardus said...

IIRC this is the most recently added "segment" of the Ozark Effect storyline; thought I'd strike fresh ground.

Unlike LB this actually has some SF elements -- more than that, however, the "Ozark Effect" is really integral to the plot, and won't be brushed aside as with L&J's prophecy checklist.

I'm wondering ... do you plan to reconcile this storyline with the crap-tastic 1995 tech of the source material or will you include The Interwebs and all that? I know Rayford has his "floating fortress," but that's different -- it's Rayford Steele....