The unexpected supernova of Alpha Centauri affects Earth with catastrophic climatic events and the total failure of advanced technology, driving the planet to the brink of environmental and societal collapse. Sheffield (Tomorrow and Tomorrow, LJ 12/96) uses the familiar plot device of disaster fiction to tell a fascinating and complex tale of human determination and survival. Using the merged destinies of a small group of cancer patients, a renegade terrorist cult, the survivors of humanity's first expedition to Mars, and U.S. President Saul Steinmetz and escaped psychopath Oliver Guest as his touchstones, Sheffield provides a variety of unique voices that add a distinctive perspective to his story. Most libraries should add this well-written sf thriller to their collections.
Big, bustling post-disaster yarn from the author of Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1997), etc. In 2026, our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, goes supernova; the heat generated by this colossal explosion scorches the Earth's southern hemisphere and distorts climate worldwide. Later, an unexpected electromagnetic pulse destroys all unshielded computer chips, plunging the planet back to a midþ20th-century technological level. Saul Steinmetz, the first Jewish president of the US, struggles to rebuild a tottering Union, but the enemies he faces are now internal, not external. With most of the rest of the globe wiped out, ambitious slimeball Senator Nick Lopez and his Representative henchperson, Sarah Mander, urge Saul to declare a Pax Americana and conquer the globe. Elsewhere, cancer victims Art Ferrand, Dana Berlitz, and Seth Parsigian, their life-prolonging therapy destroyed and its originators dead, must locate the one person who maybe can help them, biology whiz Oliver Guest. Unfortunately, Guest is a serial child murderer and has spent the last five years unconscious and unaware, in "judicial sleep." And in space, four survivors of the first expedition to Mars, led by Celine Tanaka, fight their way back to Earth only to be captured by the persuasive, possibly precognitive, certainly crazy cult leader Pearl Lazenby, whose followers are preparing to wipe out all non- whites and take over the US. Finally, Saul's scientists report that, in 50 years time, a particle bombardment from the supernova will blast the planet; more ominously still, the supernova was not a natural event. Professionally handled and ingeniously extrapolated, and with engrossing plot elements, this entry iscomplete in itself but clearly anticipates sequels.
"Charles Sheffield is one of the very best hard science fiction writers in the world."
Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy and Antarctica
"Sheffield clothes the most advanced speculations of modern science in alluring forms of beauty and danger."
The Washington Post Book World