Cover image for The rift
The rift
Williams, Walter Jon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperPrism, [1999]

Physical Description:
726 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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In 1812 the quiet Missouri plains were split by an earthquake so powerful, it rang church bells in Boston. Two centuries later, almost no one in the Midwest knows the history of the New Madrid fault line. And no one knows that another quake is coming, a quake so massive it will kill tens of thousands, destroy cities, change the course of the Mississippi River itself. The first quake is the worst. reducing the central United States to the Stone Age. Then the fault line shakes again. And again. Fast-paced and terrifyingly real, The Rift is a blockbuster novel of destruction, heroism, and survival that's sure to grab fans of such recent screen shockers as Deep Impact and Armageddon.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Catastrophe strikes twice in the same place, or so it seems from the second thriller this year (after Peter Hernon's 8.4: Forecasts, Jan. 4) detailing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in the Mississippi River Valley. Working on a smaller scale than in his world-building science fantasies (City on Fire, etc.), Williams imagines the chaos that would attend a tectonic shift registering 8.9 on the Richter scale ("the worst the geosphere can do to us") along the New Madrid fault line, where a quake of similar intensity in 1811 radically altered the landscape. The result is a formulaic scenario straight out ofÄor destined forÄa disaster film epic, replete with cinematic scenes of modern cities in ruins and a cast of clich‚d characters who represent the best and worst of humanity attempting to survive under harsh circumstances. Though the plot alternates wide-angle views of awesome natural destruction with intimate personal moments, it jells around the shared adventures of Nick Buford, a black engineer, and Jason Adams, a white teenager. Nick and Jason recapitulate the travels of Huck Finn and Jim as they raft down the Mississippi from Missouri to Louisiana, searching for Nick's displaced family and along the way encountering the requisite share of good guys (General Jessica Frazetta of the Army Corps of Engineers, self-sacrificing nuclear technician Larry Hallock) and bad guys (doom-spewing preacher Noble Falkland, racist sheriff Omar Paxton). Superficial exploration of "the rift" the quake opens between races, social castes and cultures serves as padding between the tale's climactic aftershocks. Williams has written more stimulating fiction, but this holds its own as beachside entertainment. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A devastating earthquake strikes the American heartland along the New Madrid faultline, destroying homes, severing communications, and changing the course of the Mississippi River. As the inhabitants of cities from Missouri to Louisiana seek to recover from the catastrophe, the earth continues to shudder, and with it comes a breakdown in the lives of the survivors. With the same vigorous eloquence he brings to cutting-edge sf, the author of Voice of the Whirlwind depicts a continent divided not only by the forces of nature but by the all-too-human rifts that separate individuals from each other. Part social commentary, part disaster novel, this near-future drama should appeal to fans of cataclysmic fiction. Highly recommended for general and sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.