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The year is 2035. After ecological disasters nearly destroyed the Earth, 26 survivors—the last of humanity—are trapped by an alien race in a sterile enclosure known as the Shell. Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the Six—children who were born deformed or sterile and raised in the Shell. As, one by one, the survivors grow sick and die, Pete and the Six struggle to put aside their anger at the alien Tesslies in order to find the means to rebuild the earth together. Their only hope lies within brief time-portals into...
The year is 2035. After ecological disasters nearly destroyed the Earth, 26 survivors—the last of humanity—are trapped by an alien race in a sterile enclosure known as the Shell. Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the Six—children who were born deformed or sterile and raised in the Shell. As, one by one, the survivors grow sick and die, Pete and the Six struggle to put aside their anger at the alien Tesslies in order to find the means to rebuild the earth together. Their only hope lies within brief time-portals into the recent past, where they bring back children to replenish their disappearing gene pool. Meanwhile, in 2013, brilliant mathematician Julie Kahn works with the FBI to solve a series of inexplicable kidnappings. Suddenly her predictive algorithms begin to reveal more than just criminal activity. As she begins to realize her role in the impending catastrophe, simultaneously affecting the Earth and the Shell, Julie closes in on the truth. She and Pete are converging in time upon the future of humanity—a future which might never unfold. Weaving three consecutive time lines to unravel both the mystery of the Earth's destruction and the key to its salvation, this taut adventure offers a topical message with a satisfying twist.
Winner of the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novella
Posted September 15, 2012
This new novella, a length Nancy Kress excels at, is a highly crafted work of short fiction. Each chapter is short, sometimes very much so, but conveys a detailed event along one of the three interwoven story arcs. Some readers might find this style uncomfortably fragmentary yet the method moves the story along rapidly. Every scene is densely packed with plot and character development. The catastrophes depicted in the novella are meticulously researched and based in current science. This is another hallmark of the author’s work. It is an interesting commentary that two of the three global disasters would probably have left substantial survivors. It would, in all likelihood, take all three to shake humanity loose from the planet in the fashion proposed by “After the Fall”. I found this a short, thought provoking and entertaining read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2012
A relatively short (under 200 pages) but interesting novel that puts a unique spin on the apocalypse. As the title suggests, each chapters carries us backwards or forwards in time, telling three intersecting stories:
AFTER THE FALL: A claustrophobic, emotionally charged, post-apocalyptic tale of dying adults, damaged adolescents, and stolen children.
BEFORE THE FALL: Cold and efficient, a contemporary drama surrounding one woman's struggle to decipher a mystery while preparing for single motherhood.
DURING THE FALL: Brief, tantalizing, and the heart of the story, these mini chapters offer a terrifying glimpse into just how simply catastrophic change can begin.
This is a book where execution is everything, where the telling of the story trumps the story itself. Personally, I saw the 'twist' revelation coming very early on, but that's OK. Instead of being something that hooks the reader or sets the stage for an earth-shattering climax, the twist is more a key to unlocking the melancholy truth behind the end of human civilization.
Fortunately, the telling is solid, populated by characters who may not be entirely likeable, but to whom we can either relate, or with whom we can sympathize. Pete (AFTER) is a spoiled teenager, a sad, angry, lonely young man who fills his time by having emotionless sex with teenagers as damaged as himself, and with secret, painful, unrequited longing for an older woman who serves as teacher, mother, doctor, aunt, and friend. His only escape from The Shell (a sterile bubble in which the human race has been preserved) is through brief jaunts into the past, where he steals supplies he doesn't understand . . . and young children to help repopulate the race.
Julie (BEFORE) is a lonely, independent, brilliant mathematician who has been helping the FBI to find a pattern in the bizarre string of child abductions and store thefts. Having become too close to her FBI partner, she chooses to embark on a path of single motherhood, even as she finds herself cast adrift by an agency that doesn't believe her theories. Driven as much by her need to find a purpose behind the pattern as she is by the need to protect her child, she sets herself on a course that will ultimately see her cross paths with Pete . . . before it's too late to satisfy either need.
A solid effort, with a well thought out, appreciably detailed, yet somehow understated catastrophic end to humanity's reign in the final chapters. I would have like a bit more insight into the aliens, but that's a minor quibble and doesn't detract from my appreciation for the story Nancy Kress has crafted here.
Posted August 9, 2012
I'm a long time sci-fi reader. I also love good literature. This is an exceptional book on both counts. I like big world building books like Alistair Reynolds and Kim Stanley Robinson's latest, but sometimes it's so pleasant to experience a more intimate and concise story as presented by the brilliant Ms. Kress. I wish she'd publish more often.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2012