By David M. Olsen
We Can Save Us All is an ambitious debut by a very talented Adam Nemett. The book begins with a chance meeting of our rather nerdy protagonist, David Fuffman, in an odd, drug-enhanced damn-building exercise where he meets the charismatic and wealthy Mathias Blue—in a frigid river, at Princeton. This clever scene is a fun springboard into the witty, satirical, and nihilistic novel that is to follow. The story is set in the near future where all-too-realistic issues of war and climate change combine with a phenomenon called “Chronostrictesis,” where time itself seems to be coming to an end as though through a funnel: human existence as we know it is no longer, as the characters have to stockpile food and supplies for the severe weather and the impending superstorm.
As the compelling and carefully crafted story progresses, we follow David on his journey to the Egg, an off-campus Geodesic dome where a group of Princeton dropouts reside with the enigmatic Blue, where, “You’re always working on your project, your vision, your Thesis—something only you can do.” David’s project is to form a vigilante superhero group that is fueled by a special drug, Zeronal, concocted by Blue in the panic room/laboratory under the stairs in the Egg. His new group, joined by David’s high school drug dealer and great love, Haley Roth, attempt to form a sort of Justice League, which expands through campus communities nationwide like a cult of sorts, while all seem to be waiting for the final superstorm to make landfall.
The novel is a work that seems to consider our current environment and how the millennial and future generations will survive given the past generation’s lack of empathy for our planet. The tone of the novel is optimistic, while the occurrences seem to speak to our collective unease about our uncertain future as trade wars escalate, unrest continues abroad and domestically, and the world in general seems to be ignoring the fact that our weather is slowly unleashing itself upon us all. It begs the question, is it even possible that we can save us all? This is a thoughtful narrative that is well worth the effort. I highly recommend it.
David M. Olsen is a full-time insurance broker, writer, editor, and poet. He is an alumnus of Stanford’s OWC program in novel writing and is also an MFA candidate at UCR-Palm Desert. He is at work on a collection of linked short stories, a novel, and a chapbook of poetry. David is also the fiction editor and a contributor at The Coachella Review. In a past life, David won awards as a chef and brewer. He is a Cicerone, Sommelier, and is a certified pizzaiolo trained by 11-time world champion Tony Gemignani. He resides in Pacific Grove, California.