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The Aftermath: A Novel of Survival Paperback – March 1, 2003

2.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his idea-filled, forward-looking first novel, noted essayist Florman (The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, etc.) shows only passing concern for the nitty-gritty of daily survival in a postapocalyptic world. The story opens with a cosmic "Bang!," when a comet crashes into the Pacific on Christmas Day, 2009. The few people who survive are those fortunate enough to be nearly on the opposite side of the earth. The most notable group consists of a collection of top engineers taking a seminar cruise in the Indian Ocean. Landing in South Africa, these optimistic "Can do!" types quickly cooperate with the mixed communities of so-called Inlanders, trading their knowledge for food and salvaged materials. Establishing "Engineering Village" as their home, they plan on making it the hub of a second Industrial (and later, electronic) Revolution. Much of the book is concerned with the planning needed to reconstitute the lost industries and social structures of the survivors' former lives. Even when the daily fish catch is stolen by the divinely mad pirate leader Queen Ranavolana, their first impulse is to put together a meeting with a "clear, focused agenda." Interleaving a recounting of the new colonists' struggles with selections from the journal of their recording secretary, Florman tries to personalize his story. But, lacking realistic conflict, his narrative remains only a blueprint of an upbeat vision rather than a solid foundation for this hopefulness.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

After a cataclysmic asteroid strike destroys most life on Earth, a cruise ship filled with vacationing engineers and a community of South African villagers sole survivors of the disaster struggle to recover what they can of the world they knew. The author of several paeans to the science of engineering (The Introspective Engineer), first novelist Florman puts his talent as a raconteur to good use in a tale reminiscent of the expository fiction of sf's early writers. Though characters frequently take a backseat to ideas, this story of survival and hope at the end of history belongs in large sf collections and is suitable for YA as well as adult readers.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311124
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,050,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Imagine a "Survivor" series, only this one is for life and half of the tribe members are engineers. Or "Gilligan's Island" but with a huge cruise ship instead of the SS Minnow. Or try this: Cross Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson" with the world's favorite PC game, Sim City. And launch any of these scenarios with an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event, only without the music from REM.
A cruise ship of esteemed engineers survives a Christmas Day comet that lands off America's Northwest coast and pulverizes, burns or floods almost the entire globe, leaving only a tiny safe zone off the east coast of South Africa. The climate for survival here is ideal, given the abundance of natural resources. Too bad the ship sinks, no surprise given that the charts are worthless after this world-rearranging event. After a brief introduction to the disaster, the book covers the first year of progress in this new world.
Florman knows his technical details. The driving point of the book is the idea that after the world having been subjected to the equivalent of "being bombed back to the Stone Age", how would life recover if the survisors were technical geniuses? Would the last two thousand years of the world's technical progress be replicated in a much shorter time frame, since we already know all the answers, we just don't have the tools, people or resources to be there?
But the people are boring and as colorless as the sterotypical engineers Florman apparently wants to humanize. Even the "artsy" few, like the dance instructor from the cruise, are cardboard characters. Florman attempts to inject drama with a multicultural pirate leader attempting to pillage the island. The dramatic effort fails just as the pillaging attempt does.
This might make a manual for post-Apocalyptic survival kit, if this is it, we're in for a long, tedious repopulation of the planet.
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By A Customer on October 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The premise is great: cruise ship passengers survive the end of the world and start anew.
The author is an engineer and this book is written as only an engineer can: dry and boring.
There is no life in the characters (at least in the first couple hundred pages which is as far as I got). It reads like a college textbook.
At one point, the survivors have a contest to name their new city. The author has them choose: "Engineering Village"...Geez, how creative!
I will give this book praise on one point: It cured my insomnia on two occasions. This is the absolute truth. Couldn't sleep, started reading and after about 3 pages I was out.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not sure why everyone gave all the bad reviews. They must have been looking for something else. I went in knowing this was a end of the world, reconstruction type thing. I didn't care about characters or plotting or whatever. I wanted an instruction manual on rebuilding civilization. And that is exactly what this is. Prior to today's e-book quick buck astonishingly foul post-apocalypse writing, I had read nearly every paper book in that genre, and I ranked this book as one of the Top 20 ( granted, near the bottom-but so what ). This book is big picture stuff. I've read it twice and will once again over the coming years, no doubt. You aren't reading this for characters or twists and turns in the plot, but for a look at how we could rebuild our lives after a true apocalypse.
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Format: Hardcover
The Aftermath: A Novel of Survival by Samuel C. Florman is a very well-written book, although not very attention grabbing. It provides information on how to survive with the natural resources in Southern Africa when the world has been wiped out. Much of the book is meetings between the engineers aboard the Queen of Africa, a ship that survived the impact of a massive comet on Earth. The people in the meetings debate on how to prioritize their goals. Said meetings go on for pages, causing the reader to lose interest. The repetitiveness of the book gets annoying after reading it for about fifty pages. Since the Earth has been destroyed, for the most part, and their ship has sunk, the people have to start life from the beginning. There is also another group of people, who became named the Focus Group. They met in a line-dancing class and eventually just ended up talking about what was going on in the community. Wil Hardy, a scribe for the secret meetings, is part of this group. The others are not and don't know what happen at these secret meetings. There are six in this group, three girls, three boys, and they end up pairing together and getting married. That's very predictable, which usually snags the fun right out of a good read. Pretty boring, huh? Things get a tad bit exciting, however. Soon enough, a mad pirate queen, who has renamed herself Queen Ranavolana, tries to conquer Engineering Village, the village of the Queen of Africa's survivors. There is about one page of suspense, for she attacks in the middle of a wedding, the Focus Group's to be exact, and then her plan fails. The one interesting character that gets things moving gets shut down. That's where the interesting but ends. I would recommend this book for someone that likes boring books or has nothing better to do.
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Format: Hardcover
Florman has taken a great idea and drained every drop of interest out of it. Apparently, his subtext was, "What if the world was destroyed except for several thousand really boring wonks? What kind of committees would they form?" Okay, I'm glad that I now know about the preparation of and uses for potash, but a lot of what this book deals with-- the interlocking web of technologies-- is much more entertainingly dealt with in James Burke's "Connections." If you want a good end-of-the-world novel, reread "Alas, Babylon" and give this one a miss.
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