Stephen Wallenfels

I’m all cried out. I’m still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I’ve only been out of the car twice – once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don’t have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass and the smell of leaking gasoline.

Pod is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the view points of Megs, a 12-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and 16-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other?



  • Ages: 12 up
  • Grades: 6 up
  • Pages: 192

Lucky Place - DOWNLOADS

Recent Reviews

7Reminiscent of Stephen King’s early novels, this sf horror tale could adapt easily to film.

—Library Journal

7 Written in short chapters that alternate between Megs and Josh, this masterful debut grabs readers by the throat from the first page and never lets go.

—Kirkus Reviews

An intense novel of humanity's reaction to an alien invasion…fast-paced and engrossing.

—Publishers Weekly

The science-fiction title POD is an unexpectedly absorbing first novel by local author Stephen Wallenfels. Intended to be the first of a trilogy, POD is remarkable and captivating, a far cry from the cookie-cutter apocalyptic narratives one usually encounters. Speaking cinematically, POD has more in common with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece The Birds than with the Mad Max franchise or any of its clones. POD concerns itself with a larger question: How do ordinary people adapt to a new normality in the aftermath of an inexplicable, cataclysmic event? The story, told over a period of 28 days by the two narrators in short, alternating chapters, becomes increasingly addictive. Despite their youth, the narrators avoid sinking into pathetic whining. They approach their predicament with realism and remarkable common sense—a refreshing change from the trend of cloying sentimentality that tends to make young characters act younger than they ought to be. Josh and Megs are active participants in their survival, not merely hangers-on to the adults around them. They must make choices with real consequences about how they will continue to live and what meaning they can derive from the world around them.

—The Entertainer

This world where no one, even the few who can outlast the pods, will ever be the same again is hauntingly contemporary and familiar, and the careful realistic details about the scraps of every-day life to which the protagonists cling are as terrifying in the post-invasion world as the laser-blasting pods themselves.

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Solid, straightforward sci-fi ... a rarity in these times when vampires and zombies reign unchecked.


Take the ominously threatening alien technology of John Christopher's Tripod trilogy and the suspenseful survival of an apocalyptic catastrophe of Susab Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It trilogy, combine them in a single debut novel, and you'll have a good idea of the premise—and the promise—of POD.

—The Horn Book Magazine

Honors for Pod

  • 2010 Cybil’s Award Finalist - Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)
  • YALSA Scif-Fi Books with Strong Female Characters
  • CCBC Choices 2011