"The Dog Stars," by Peter Heller, tells the story of a world ravaged by a flu virus. Hig, the central character in the novel, is a pilot and the guardian of a small airport near Erie, Colorado. This post-apocalyptic setting is marked by rising temperatures, depleted animal communities and species, roving bands of scavengers seeking provisions and weapons, and a highly contagious disease referred to as “the Blood.”
Together with Bruce Bangley, a ruthless tactician with a mysterious past, Hig defends a “perimeter” around the airport. He plants and maintains a garden. He fishes and hunts, although fish are not as prevalent, deer are, so Hig is able to supply them with food. Flying “the Beast”, a 1956 Cessna 182, he scouts for wildlife, watches for marauders, and occasionally stumbles on salvage he can take back to Bangley. In the meantime, Bangley manages the weaponry and the defense of their installation.
Hig reaches out to others as humans in need of contact, against Bangley’s counsel. He visits the Mennonite families who suffer from “the Blood,” sharing his garden’s bounty and salvaged soft drinks. When a faint signal from an airport closer to Grand Junction reached him, Hig is determined to know whether civilization survived somewhere else.
"The Dog Stars" is written in a stream of consciousness style: poetic, narrative, emotional. It is a compelling and gripping story that leaves the reader with a sense of hopeful resignation.
"The Dog Stars" was published in 2012 by Vintage Books.