Tuesday, June 11, 2013

After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall by Nancy Kress

After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall by Nancy Kress

The story of the ending of civilization, told from three different points of view, which, as the title suggests, are after, before, and during.

Before: Julie Kahn, an analytical mathematician is on the trail of a strong of kidnappings and robberies. Working with the FBI to plot these strange crimes, her time and location predictions become increasingly accurate. But she has the added difficulty of becoming a mother as she tracks these inconsistent crimes.

After: The last remnants of humanity are trapped in a strange enclosure known as the Shell. The original survivors tried to breed and all but six of their offspring die. Even those remaining six are sterile and deformed. Their hope lies is a strange machine that lets them travel back before the fall to grab supplies and healthy children in order to survive and expand humanity’s gene pool.

Kress does an amazing job of weaving together the before and after elements of the fall. At times the motivations of Pete, the main character of the After, can seem overly simplistic. But this could be explained by his being a deformed 15 year old growing up in highly unusual circumstances. It is a relatively short novel, not even reaching a full 200 pages, and the structure of the chapters is engaging and makes for a quick read. The only thing that I was not particularly was the revelation at the end, when you find out who the aliens are and the forces behind them. To me, this did not stand up to the rest of the book. However, the remainder of the story is an certainly unusual and interesting take on a old idea and worth checking out.

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