The sky is falling--again. Following up on 1998's excellent Aftermath
subjects planet Earth to yet another cosmic blast from the Alpha Centauri supernova. But while the blast that hit Earth in Aftermath
simply cooked the Southern hemisphere and knocked out unshielded technology with a flash of gamma rays, this wave promises to do some real damage, with a sleet of trillion-nuclei bundles moving at one-tenth the speed of light.
Warned by the first catastrophe, Earth began building an electromagnetic shield out of the orbiting Sky City station to divert the incoming apocalypse. But not only will the storm come earlier than expected, the carnage may be worse than anyone imagined--preliminary data shows that the supernova was no accident, and that the wave of particles may in fact be a beam. Crackerjack hard-SF author Charles Sheffield brings back much of the cast of Aftermath for this suspenseful, well-paced follow-up, the two most satisfying returnees being sociopath-savant Oliver Guest and his former patient Seth Parsigian. In the book's subplot, the brilliant Guest and gruff Parsigian must team up to solve a string of grisly child murders on Sky City that threatens to push the shield project even further behind schedule. --Paul Hughes
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From Publishers Weekly
High-tech hard SF and murder mystery converge in Sheffield's (Aftermath) latest, multi-voiced narrative, but the result does credit to neither genre. After escaping from the "judicial sleep" in which he was to have spent six centuries atoning for killing 18 adolescent girls in order to clone happier versions of them, infamous murderer Oliver Guest hid in an Irish castle. More than 11 years later, in 2053, Guest, still on the lam, is found by Seth Parsigian, who blackmails him into helping to identify a serial killer who has been slaying teenage girls on Sky City. The murders are upsetting the city's dedicated residents, who are building a shield to help Earth survive an oncoming wave of deadly particles from Alpha Centauri. While U.S. president Celine Tanaka handles the political fallout from physicist Wilmer Oldfield's disastrous predictions about the proximity of the approaching particles, Gordy Rolfe, the short, depraved genius who is in charge of building the protective shield, sabotages Earth's plans for survival so he can rule the depopulated planet that will be left in the wake of the disaster. Though there is plenty of actionAthe murders are solved, a love affair begins, evil characters are vanquishedAthe many switches in points of view produce a herky-jerky narrative, and there are long, dull expositions about particle waves and space stations. Sheffield creates powerful space-faring women, but his dark wit sparkles most in his depiction of Oliver Guest, who is rewarded for his crimes by having a houseful of loving little girls always at his beck and call. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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