The Final Impact

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Overview

Life As the World Knows It

New York, Early October...
[fade to Marti Nunciata]

From the middle segment of the seven o'clock Cable News Network
broadcast:


"Excitement continues to build as astronomers around the world prepare to record the impact of the rogue planet Millennium on the far side of Jupiter in late November. The rogue planet was dubbed Millennium because when discovered by the Kin Peak National Observatory in Arizona, it was originally estimated to strike Jupiter early in the year 2000. Now, however, astronomers estimate the impact will occur on November twenty-sixth, the Friday after Thanksgiving. This is what Professor Frank Gelasias had to say when asked about the more than one month discrepancy between the originally projected date of impact and when scientists now believe the rogue planet will actually strike the gas giant."

[cut to window and expand to fill, Professor Frank Gelasias]

"There are many factors which can affect the date we calculate that a body in space will strike another one, or pass close by, so much changing information on an object of this size and speed, that exact projections early on are chancy at best. But we're fairly certain that this one will strike the day after Thanksgiving, and when it does, the impact on Jupiter will dwarf what Shoemaker-Levy did to the planet in 1994. Millennium is huge by comparison, and the resulting damage to Jupiter's atmosphere could change the way we see the planet—its gas atmosphere—for decades."

As the year 2000 approaches, the Earth is bracing itself for what could be its greatest disaster, as a rogue planet hurtles into the solar system. Government attempts to avert catastrophe are foiled by sabotage, and, on January 1, humanity's fate is sealed. Now, a bold group of survivors must piece together the future of a planet they no longer recognize. Ads in Locus. Original.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - John Christensen
A familiar scenario in recent science fiction, a rogue planet collides with Jupiter and pieces of it hit Earth, causing devastation similar to what may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Gena, a blind lady, finds herself able to see the future, including the murder of her husband. Simon, once an abused child but now a social worker, can read minds. Naomi, an exotic dancer, is saved from death by a premonition of her boyfriend, Eddie, but feels she has lost her soul. Mercy, an emergency room physician, finds that she has the power and need to heal without medicine. After Earth is struck, these people must adapt to a savage world that has stopped rotating, creating a small gray zone where life has the best chance to survive. Their adaptation sometimes comes in the form of mutation that is necessary to survive in the harsh environment. The storyline starts out very confusing, frequently jumping from one subplot to another. It is not until very late in the book that a semblance of cohesiveness is found. Shallow, dark, and only mildly entertaining. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Paula Guran
Admittedly, we are in the throes of apocalyptic marketing frenzy, and Yvonne Navarro's Final Impact is just one of many books that are out or are coming out to use the Millennium as a theme (in fact, the original title was Millennium's Dark Embrace.) In this case, as the century turns to triple naughts, "Millennium" is the name given a rogue planet that breaks into pieces in the vicinity of Jupiter sending big chunks of doom directly toward Earth. Planet, meteor, worlds in collision -- I know, nothing new. But Navarro delivers cataclysm with characters we can focus on and a plot that owes as much to horror as it does to astrophysics. In horror, unlike science fiction, science seldom saves the world in horror. In horror good can triumph over evil, but the world itself is not so much "saved" but somehow changed forever by the struggle. Navarro plays with this ultimate horror plot by imbuing her good guys with psychic powers while, by the end, the bad guys seem to be turning into pseudo-vampires, werewolves, cannibals, and psycho killers.

But that all comes later. What comes first and what makes the book work are characters we meet and get to know: Blind and orphaned Indian-Mexican Gena can foretell the future. Simon Chanowitz can read minds. He grows up to be a social worker who tries to stop the kind of abuse he suffered as a child. Mercy is a part Chinese, part Jewish healer who becomes a doctor. Black Lamont, is a lawyer with telekinetic powers. Best of all we meet Lily, a deranged punk bitch who Mercy heals and who, assisted by the knives up her black leather sleeves, is smart enough and tough enough to manage the world on her own, but loyal enough and fragile enough to love. (And there are at least another eight fascinating secondary characters.)

For a disaster novel to work, the reader must have people to care about, to root for and who have some hope of surviving in what is an otherwise hopeless situation. Navarro gives us that right from page one and sustains it through 469 pages. She gives us detailed backgrounds for each of the four main characters and introduces six of the eight secondary characters even before we find out anything about the rogue planet Millennium.

We know, to an extent, what's going to happen as soon as we learn that Millennium has been torn apart into several pieces by Jupiter's gravitational pull, but we don't know exactly how these characters are going to fit into the scenario. Navarro sets the stage and includes the Earth itself as a "character" somehow protecting what life it can: people are running amuck, anything female seems to be getting pregnant, it's obvious the center cannot hold and by the time Millenium comes to call, all we need to know are the basics and how the disaster is going to effect our people. Navarro offers it up without a blink and gets on with who we care about.

With the world literally brought to a standstill the heroes struggle and remain pure of heart, the bad guys get nastier and the survival game is afoot. Earth is divided into eternal darkness and unending light, with a narrow strip of gray for humanity to survive in. And if the gray is a little too Edenesque, we don't care. The good guys have deserved a little happiness and besides, the bad guys are out there mutating in the dark (or maybe the light, we don't know) and are sure to be trouble enough for our hardy band and all their babies.

Navarro, as she did with vampires in AfterAge and zombies in deadrush, once again offers us a premise that has been has seemingly been played out in several novels before. But she makes the game her own and racks up enough points for Final Impact (and the reader) to be a winner.
horroronline.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553563603
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Read an Excerpt

NOVEMBER 26...

"Can we turn on the television?"

Lamont looked up in surprise. Gena was standing at the bottom of the steps leading into the family room, one hand clutching the banister to give herself a sense of location within the oversized room. She preferred the formal living room and hardly ever came downstairs; the family room was too spacious, its furnishings too spread out to let her make her way down its length with any ease. "Sure," he said as he rose. "Any particular channel?"

"I..." Gena hesitated, then shrugged. "CNN is as good as any, I suppose. Something that shows...everything." Above a pale rose-colored sweater he'd bought her, her reddish skin looked dusky and soft, her hair startlingly black. Her face was carefully expressionless.

Lamont raised an eyebrow as he selected the channels from the remote control, then went over to take Gena's hand. Her skin was cold and clean, slightly damp; he knew she'd been upstairs washing the dishes from yesterday's Thanksgiving meal--their first with each other--and this morning's breakfast. He'd wanted to help but she'd insisted on doing it by herself, although she'd allowed him to run a sinkful of water and soak the mess overnight. Skipping the annoyance of the usual morning alarm clock routine they'd slept late, then made love. Hunger had finally driven them to the kitchen and an odd meal of seasoned potato pancakes made from last night's leftovers.

Settled on the couch now, Lamont found the right channel, then handed the remote to Gena. Her hearing was more sensitive than his and he tended to have the volume too loud for no reason. The broadcaster was already talking about Millennium andGena was listening with rapt attention. "What are you listening for, Gena?" Lamont asked softly. "You already know what's going to happen."

She turned her head slightly in his direction. "Hope, I suppose."

"Hope?"

"That something's changed what's coming, or maybe that something will change it. I don't know."

Lamont watched her in silence for a moment, then slipped his arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him willingly, then let her head drop back against his shoulder, as though she were tired of all the weight she carried around in her mind. He couldn't blame her. "The scientists say the asteroid's going to hit Jupiter."

Gena's head lifted and she turned her face back toward the television, the moving lights from its image flickering on the lenses of the dark glasses she still insisted on wearing all the time. "I know what they said," Gena said quietly, "but they're wrong. I don't know why their calculations won't hold up or what's throwing them off, but this thing wasn't meant for Jupiter, Lamont. It was meant for Earth, and it's going to get here one way or another."

"Then why bother listening?" Lamont asked pointedly. "You always say that no one believes you, now you seem to be showing that same disbelief in yourself."

Gena was silent for a few moments while in the background some mindless television star nattered on about deodorants. "I have to hear it, I suppose. This time it's so...so awful that even I have to confirm it."

And so they watched and listened to the special broadcast, something called "Fire on the Gas Giant," and followed along with the excited astronomers and scientists as they counted down the time to impact and waited for the satellites to send back images that they thought would dwarf those born from the Shoemaker-Levy comet of 1994.

An hour passed, then two, and Lamont remembered a program from more than a decade earlier, where a Chicago talk show host named Geraldo Rivera had assembled a huge press conference to film a construction crew breaking through a concrete wall below a downtown Chicago hotel, entering what he'd claimed was an undiscovered hideaway of the legendary Al Capone. Several hours and thousands of pounds of concrete rubble later, Rivera and his viewers had nothing but empty basement rooms and a warning from the city engineers that further drilling could break through the retaining wall and into the Chicago River. Tonight, as the computers were programmed with new information, the viewers waited, and the newscasters demanded answers, the scientists began pointing out how difficult it was to make accurate calculations regarding an object of this size and speed when it was traveling around the far side of Jupiter. Then the tone changed again, and the feverish undercurrent returned as the people on the screen began to talk about something unexpected and exciting, an area around the planet that most people never knew about called the Roche limit.

"Roche limit?" Lamont said. "Sounds familiar. What is it?"

"An area of gravitational pull around a planet--in this case, Jupiter," Gena said.

"Really?"

Gena must have felt his surprise because it was the first time he'd seen a ghost of a smile from her all day. "I've been listening to a lot of the specials they've been putting together."

Lamont frowned. "You've been doing this all along? But--"

"If we can't hope, then we have nothing left."

Whatever Lamont was going to say about Gena not immersing herself in what was coming dropped out of his mind. She was right, of course. What was left if you could only look to the past? Aloud he asked, "So what does this Roche limit have to do with anything?"

"Depending on the size and strength of this object and its distance from the planet, something that passes through it could break apart because of the gravitational pull. All the planets have a Roche limit." She hesitated. "It's sort of like undersea diving--the pressure would kill a person without the proper equipment, but a metal diving suit could easily take the same depth. I don't understand it well enough myself to explain it any better."

"Well, that's pretty clear." And when he thought about it, a favorable thing. "That's good, then. No more rogue planet, right?"

"Wrong." Gena's voice was low, a strained whisper that brought darkness to the deceptively cheerful afternoon sunlight streaming through the high French windows of the family room. "It means that instead of one moon-sized planet headed our way, there are several hundred smaller ones."
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