Out of Abaddon: Book Review and Interview With Author Hap Wilson


Known for non-fiction works like River of Fire, The Cabin and Grey Owl and Me, Hap Wilson’s latest—Out of Abaddon—is a fictional account of a dystopian near-future where a solar anomaly shuts down the world’s infrastructure and sends humanity into chaos. The story is brilliantly written and rolls along with great action, details and characters that are breathed to life with Wilson’s sharp dialogue and descriptive prose. If you’re not a survival prepper before you read this book, you may very well consider putting together your doomsday cache once you’ve finished this sobering, gripping and engaging novel.

The story centers around the strong central characters of Skye, a wilderness and survival expert, whose plane crashes during the cataclysmic solar event, and Max, her former lover and also a sage of the wilds. Both struggle to find sanctuary, and each other, as they negotiate the reality of a world that has spiraled into anarchy. Max eludes roving gangs of men who are randomly killing and plundering throughout southern Ontario as he tries to work his way back to his wilderness sanctuary in the north. Skye must trek south evading polar bears and the treachery of a fellow survivor of the plane crash. What ensues is adventure and edge-of-your-seat suspense as Wilson immerses you into a world that, in light of the latest pandemic, could be closer to reality than you think.


How did you come up with your version of infrastructure collapse and the resulting worldwide chaos that ensues in the book?

If you follow the current channels of climate science and global social malaise, it’s easy to see that humanity is on the brink of change. That change is precipitated by the pandemic, resource depletion, over-population, civil unrest and an inequity in wealth.

Added to this is our dependency on cyber technologies and virtual realities. Infrastructures can easily be decommissioned through electronic warfare (EMP’s). North American cities can only survive a three-day hiatus to the supply chain. The developed countries can only function so long as the infrastructure is secure. There are knowns and unknowns regarding electronic warfare; I made a point of researching credible evidence that major countries are developing weapons of mass disruptionthese weapons have already been used.


The story centres around Skye and Max, strong male and female characters who are both highly skilled outdoors people and survivalists. Skye survives a plane crash in the remote north, while Max is stuck in the populated south when all hell breaks loose. I’m just guessing, but Max could be a reflection of you, while Skye could perhaps be your wife Andreaare these characters and others in the book based, at least in part, on real life people?

An author draws on personal experiences and often build their own traits into characters in a book. Having specific personal experiences relating to the story, I feel that I can add credible identity attributes to main characters. Still, each character is an individual possessing contrived qualities and mannerisms. At my age I’ve had enough human interactions, both good and bad, to be able to create multiple characters with independent personas.


Do you think a scenario like you depict in the book, where the world descends into anarchy with the collapse of our technological support system, is going to happen at some point? Are you prepared?

I’ve always been a survivalist. In the 1960’s we were taught to hunker down under our desks at school in the event of a nuclear blast. My father had us build a bomb shelter under the house. I lived off-grid for twelve years, continue to operate an off-grid lodge for five months of the year, and usually have supplies and gear on hand to last out any major disruption in the supply chain. When the need to protect and feed families, to defend their homes become a requirement for survival, anarchy would prevail: Remove the comforts and routines people enjoy now, for more than a few days, and the reptilian brain comes into play. Remove the security of authority, and people will fend for themselves.


The book displays how we could disintegrate into small tribes of people scraping and scratching and clawing at each other in order to survive. Those who have the necessary wilderness skills will ultimately survive, those who don’t have them will die or kill each other off. It seems like a terrible situation, but also exciting and makes for a great adventure tale. Are there positives associated with this kind of forced re-set?

There already exists disparately different and opposing components of society; in a situation as defined in the book, these differences will be accentuated. Those already in the survival mode who have little or nothing to lose, will survive. Upper classes and the privileged will suffer the most. Survival depends on psychological astuteness and not necessarily hard skills like lighting a fire or building a shelter. Proclaimed survivalists and bushcrafters flooding social media channels won’t necessarily survive any better than the wealthy elitists. Long term survival depends on long term planning and state of readiness. Readiness also, unfortunately, also means the ability to protect what you have.


You depict the remote Indigenous communities that Skye and Max pass through as being the least worried and most prepared of anyone for this sort of event. They live in the modern world like anyone these daysso why do you think they would fare so well?

The more remote northern Indigenous communities would survive better than those in the south where proximity to goods and services are far better. Northern First Nations remain in close contact with the natural world and are dependent on the strength of community. Traditional survival skills remain a part of everyday life. There is also a shared inter-community sensibility. As well, there is a common global belief amongst Indigenous nations that there will be another coming of the Age of Man (human evolution). I believe a situation as depicted in Out of Abaddon would revive and contribute to a stronger sense of self and place within the scheme of human evolution. With global unrest, overpopulation, pandemics and climate change, it does seem that we are heading towards drastic change.


The Covid-19 pandemic happened as you were writing this book. Did that influence the storyline?

I started writing this book twenty years before the pandemic. The story evolved as political and social events changed or appeared in order to keep things current. The pandemic is mentioned, of course, but it doesn’t play a significant feature of the story.


If this scenario went down in real life, where would you most like to be?

I’m not going to answer that question.


Besides a great adventure tale, what sort of insight do you hope readers will gain from this book?

I’m hoping readers will come away with a better sense of what it might take to survive a prolonged collapse of the system. Hollywood through feature films has portrayed an apocalyptic end of humanity more than a hundred times. You can be sure if this happens, we won’t have to deal with zombies.


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