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Aftermath Mass Market Paperback – August 3, 1999

37 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Supernova Alpha Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

In 2026, the Earth faces an unexpected disaster. A supernova in the nearby Alpha Centauri system has apparently wiped out nearly every electronic component on the planet, leaving human civilization paralyzed. Phones don't work, transportation grinds to a halt, and essential services such as medical care are thrown back into the Stone Age. As the world tries to cope with this technological cut-off, a man dying of cancer begins a journey to save his life and that of his fellow patients, a master criminal escapes a sentence of "judiciary sleep," a returning Mars expedition faces what looks like certain death, and U.S. president Saul Steinmetz strives to keep his country from falling apart. Author Charles Sheffield has taken a classic hard-SF concept, applied it to the real world, and created a gripping story of survival. --Craig E. Engler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ho-hum: it's another global disaster. This time, a supernova has caused disastrous climatic effects and, if that's not enough, it has also sent out a massive electromagnetic pulse that has disabled all electrical devices worldwide. Sheffield centers his tale on the personal rather than the global?three people with a very specific problem: their experimental cancer treatment has been disrupted, and the only chance they have for a cure lies with a man who has been sentenced to "judicial sleep"?the humane alternative to imprisonment?for serial murder. In addition, there's the crew of the first manned expedition to Mars, struggling to return to Earth; a powerful cult known as the Eye of God; and one Saul Steinmetz, the anguished president of the United States. Most of the main characters are one-dimensional and seem at least as interested in their love lives and personal relationships as they are in the state of the world. Still, Sheffield (Tomorrow & Tomorrow), who has won Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards, has taken an often-used scenario and given it enough of a twist to keep the pages turning.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reissue edition (August 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553577387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553577389
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,881,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
They (some reviewers, copy on the back of books) always say Sheffield is "the" or "a" top hard-sci-fi writer. Well, that must not be coming from the ones I've read--definitely not this one. This is a good airport novel. That's where I picked it up and read it. It's got a big disaster, plenty of sex, a daring return from a mission to Mars, desperate cancer survivors, a Hannibal Lector type character, a visionary cult leader, and some political intrigue, all thrown together pretty cheesily. It's fun to read but you wont be telling all your friends about it. Most of the characters are one dimensional, and he has a lurid, exagerrated view of politics--the President "runs" the country, and politicians are far more sleazy in interesting ways than in real life, and execute far more bloodthirsty and deft maneuvers than they manage to pull off in real life. Would make a fun trashy cable mini-series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mr. Sheffield begins with a novel in which the world has just barley survived a disaster comparable to the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. But wait, the good old U.S. of A. manages to muddle through with barely an interruption in cable service, while the rest of the world is all but wiped out. Fortunate for the U.S., but too contrived to be particularly interesting in a novel.
Honestly, the book began well. Unfortunately, within the first 100 pages, the plot had become a morass of sub-plots, characters and ideas that were never destined to be fleshed out. A big problem was that there were far too many sub-plots that went nowhere as the book progressed. (For example, sub-plots involving either White House aid or that involved a former Presidential mistress that just faded into nothing. Rule: If a sub-plot goes nowhere, kill it.)
However, even when a sub-plot was played out to the bitter end, it concluded with a contrived yet feel good device. (The escape of Dr. Death.) Worse yet, the main plotline involved the President of the U.S. and even that ended with a device stolen from any of a hundred 'B' movie made in the fifties.
The problem seems to be that Mr. Sheffield lost track of what he was writing about some half-way through the novel. Perhaps he was thinking series but only got paid for the one book. With so much going on and less than 50 or so pages used to tie it all together, Mr. Sheffield is forced to fall back on some very weak devices to get it done. If the last 70 or so pages were cut from this book and re-written as a sequel, Mr. Sheffield would have produced a much better work. As it is, the ending is far too contrived to be satisfying.
Overall, Mr. Sheffield took on an idea that was far bigger than the book he produced, inevitabley leaving the reader a bit disappointed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Here's a typical tale - you pick up a book that has a surefire plot - Alpha Centauri goes nova and all microchips on Earth are destroyed. You read the first few pages or so at the bookstore and become convinced you have a winner. At home, though, after the initial action over the nova settles down you begin your journey to Dullsville.
There's the matter of survivors and they're not your next door neighbors. Group 1 is a cult that worships a lady who has been arrested and placed in a penitential coma (think "Minority Report"). Group 2- three cancer victims who just happened to need the help of someone who - guess what? - is also in a coma. Then there is a scientist and a madman joined in a symbiotic relationship. Where are the real people you and I know???
It gets worse. The "science" is, well, take one random selection: Millions of chips are found in a mountain hideout but are too old to use. So some guy "slaps a bunch together in parallel" and now they can create holograms. Right, and I'm Elvis Presley. President Steinmetz gets in on the action with a lot of fake dialogue...politics as usual. He tries to hold the world together and sure enough, gets the advice he needs at the last minute to save the day. But no, at the end we discover that the REAL danger is not here yet - "energy particles that can rip through both skin and the flimsy shield we've constructed. What to do, what to do? Oh well, the sequel will provide all the answers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Green( on August 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
The year is 2026. An Earth run by supercomputers is forced to revert to animal instincts to survive when a nearby Supernova causes the failure of all microchips. Caused by an unseen cataclysm, the Earth and human civilization are paralyzed and anarchy ensues. After the reader is accustomed to the underlying threat, author Charles Sheffield takes him/her on an adventure using the lives of a derranged serial killer, a group of near death cancer patients, the first human Mars expedition, and the President of the United States. The research required to write such a story is apparent in the facts and theories presented. An interesting topic and a fast read. If you enjoyed reading the Aurthur C. Clark Odyssey series or Tom Clancy novels, I highly recommend this book!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Seachranaiche on January 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is a story here, but the story rapidly spins away from what promised to be a fascinating exploration of the effects of a near-by super nova and into a series of tedious and mundane journeys in and around Washington D.C. Perhaps my greatest pet peeve is books that open new series but do not stand alone. "Aftermath" does not stand alone. I would not have expected Charles Sheffield to engage in this kind of writing: 547 paperback pages that could be easily condensed into 100 or so. A couple of characters hold promise, but no character-and no character arc-comes to conclusion in this book. There are also characters (especially the character portraying the President of the United States) whose actions and motivations make no sense whatsoever.

So why didn't I just put the book down and walk away?

Because some of the science was fascinating, and because one always holds out hope that the author will bring everything together by the end of the book. Sheffield does not do this. Instead, there are hints at what could come in the sequel: a technology-crashed planet, a supposedly impossible super nova that may not be a natural phenomenon after all, and a massive project in space to help shield the Earth from the super nova's effects. The mind already races ahead-three, four, five books into the future-to see the possibilities of this series, but what about these characters in the here and now? Will their mundane journeys parlay into something more interesting? It is obvious that some of these run of the mill characters will discover that they have radically extended life spans and so could fit into stories that must leap far into the future, but couldn't Sheffield have show us that in this first book?

So the real question is: Move on to the sequel-take that chance-or just drop the whole thing here?
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