Bruce from Oplin, TX writes:
I bought an Atlas F missile silo because I thought it would be cool to have one, remodel it and live in it. It is.
The first time I was in it, it seemed to be “sleeping”…sleeping but alive. Never had an experience like that before. Pretty weird. But it wasn’t ominous…..just waiting. The place had – and still does – a post-apocalyptic look – graffiti and roughly cut pieces of steel everywhere the result of being being partially salvaged – reminding me of the ancient subways in Planet of the Apes.
There were no guard rails, the floors (grating, just as Hugh describes) was cut up during the salvaging process making getting around …awkward, dangerous and foolish. Did I mention foolish?
Anyway, I had to buy it and try to bring it back to life…or at least put it on life support, slowing the decay, until maybe later someone can actually resuscitate it.
Technically, I live in the LCC, the Launch Control Center – now the Lunch Control Center – which is a smaller cylinder (compared to the silo) and connected to it by a tunnel. The LCC could be thought of as the IT levels and upper administrative levels described in Wool/Shift, all crowded into a smaller but totally separate space. With the missile in place, there was little room for people.
I found the Silo Saga series while looking for a book to read on Amazon. Hugh’s series was the first thing that popped up. I have no idea why. I read little sci-fi these days and never search for missile related books. So it was sort of strange that it appeared but it did, and it caught my eye. When I read the sub title “Silo Sagas”…well, it was just too tempting and I ordered both books.
It was a continuous, amazing journey as detail after detail of the “silo experience” – good and bad – appeared. And they never stopped coming. Hugh’s recreation – on a very, very large scale compared to my experience – was stunningly accurate. Scaled up, but right on. The spiral staircase, which really hooked me as the central “character”, is indeed the center of it all and the main focus. You cannot navigate the silo (the real, smaller one) without it. And it isn’t as easy as it might sound.
Atlas F sites are only 8 levels or 185 feet top to bottom. But going up and down is a chore…especially up. And you do get dizzy if you use it too rapidly, just as he describes in Wool and Shift. If you have to carry tools or equipment – as I have – you only want to do it once and do it going down. Dropping a tool and having to retrieve it simply sucks….I never found quite the right name to call myself when I did this…though I really tried.
And you have never seen dark until you have been in an unlit, totally closed space…like a missile silo. Actually, dark doesn’t really describe it. There is NO light. At all. I don’t know what the word is but “dark” doesn’t cut it.
All in all, I was somewhat disbelieving when I discovered Hugh has never been in a silo….but seems he didn’t need to be. What a cool read….
-Bruce from Silo S-5 Olpin, TX
Hugh: Read more about Bruce and his silo in this Wired Magazine article. And you know what’s really crazy? Bruce also has a cat named Shadow. When he got to that part of SHIFT, I think he became convinced that I’m keeping tabs on him. Here’s what Bruce had to say about his silo friend:
And as for my Shadow, she is a worthless piece of crap…and is NEVER in the LCC, where I live (since I am IT, mayor and sheriff). But oddly, I find myself talking to her in much the same way Jimmy/Solo does with his Shadow when I am working around the place. Someone is better than no one….usually.