“Revolution” on NBC shows life after an apocalypse, maybe comparable to “The Proles”


Before providing some more discussion of my own early novel “The Proles”, that is, the post-apocalyptic second half, I wanted to provide an entry for the series “Revolution” on NBC (link), now in its second season, created by J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot, having premiered in September 2012.

The series takes place fifteen years after all the power in the world went out suddenly.  The United States government has fallen, and the continent has broken into various republics and wild areas governed by militias and warlords.  The president was hiding out at Guantanamo.  At the end of Season 1, the power was almost going to come back on, but the purpose was more to enable a nuclear strike on part of the Monroe Republic.

At this point, there’s not much point in going through the deals of the history of post-apocalyptic life as they are summarized on Wikipeida, here.

More important is the cause of the blackout.  In 2012, the series was billed in popular media as caused by an EMP attack by terrorists (as in the novel “One Second After”, Feb. 15 here). By comparison with my book “The Proles”, such an attack could be motivated by communism, fascism, or religious extremism.  But it turns out that the loss was caused by a conspiracy, apparently involving the government, to create “nanites” that can devour electricity but that have other abilities, such as to create objects under telepathic command (of the master programmer Aaron, played by Zak Orth), or by a USB-like pendant when inserted into certain computers. There’s a summary page about the nanites here.  The nanites can be especially effective in treating cancer, which could help explain their origin. 

The nanites are controlled by a “Tower” – there may be several of these towers.  The concept of a control tower appears in my novel “The Proles”, as well as in the ABC series “Flash Forward”.  (In my own subconscious I have called it the “Tower of Ned”, but I’ll get to that later.)

Zak, as a character, may be viewed as roughly comparable to me.  He had worked for Google – I worked mostly in mainframe, but that’s because my career occurred earlier.  His heterosexual forays are weak.  He has worked as a teacher in the “afterworld”, just as I worked as a substitute teacher, leading to a major incident.

It does not make sense that the “nanites”, as envisioned by the show, could really “absorb” electricity.  I say this, recognizing that the crippling effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or extreme solar storm (Carrington event) would come in a few separate steps taking several minutes (or even days, in the case of a solar event).  Maybe there is something to the concept I don’t get, and will be explained in future episodes.

I have to express a degree of irritation about the progress of the show.  The opening Pilot shows the blackout briefly, taking about five minutes, and then various episodes show flashbacks to various times after the blackout but relatively few before the “event”.  The series does not yet show any narrative continuity to how the Blackout occurred, or how long it took society to collapse afterward.  The previews keep promising an explanation, but the clues have been slow to come, mostly through the Orth character.  I think a two-hour prequel (more or less parallel to Part I of “The Proles”), showing how it occurred, aired sometime soon, would be very much in order for NBC and Bad Robot.   A documentary discussing the EMP and solar storm issues (maybe from Dateline) would also seem to be called for.

This scene between Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Jane Warren (Kate Burton) is instructive.

(Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT)

Update: April 23, 2014


The film “Transcendence” by Wally Pfister for Warner Brothers and Alcon, almost seems like a “prequel” to “Revolution”.  Indeed, once his consciousness is captured on a super computer, Will connects himself to all the computers in the world and makes them create nanobots.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *