Aftermath by Charles Sheffield
Aftermath “From the secret diary of Oliver Guest.
Entry date: June 14, 2026
The day I died: July 6, 2021. I remember it like yesterday.”
Now that is an opening to a novel designed to catch your interest. This one caught mine. This is an intriguing story that promises follow up to finish the overall tale being told.
In 2026, the impossible happens. Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star, goes supernova. Now Alpha Centauri is too close to affect us, right? Wrong. We are not close enough on this planet to burn up immediately, of course. Yet we cannot avoid the light, heat, and radiation caused by the star’s demise. The Southern Hemisphere is the direct recipient of the overwhelming heat. The weather patterns across the globe change radically. The radiation causes an electromagnetic pulse that affects all electrical things on Earth. In that moment, it fries every computer circuit chip on the planet. Now practically anything technological made after 1980 does not work because computer chips were built in them. This includes cars, airplanes, clocks, stoves, factories, telephones, furnaces, etc. In one instant, the world turns dark and cold.
Three groups of people are followed in the aftermath of the EMG in the United States. President Saul Steinmetz and his staff have to try to get the country up and running again. At the same time, the political games that always go on continue.
Art Ferrand is a cancer survivor due to new gene therapy still in research and development. His monitor had a computer chip in it. He could no longer be certain when he was due for another treatment. For that matter, did the treatment center still exist? He has to go find out.
The first group of humans to land on Mars are returning home. They survived all the dangers of their trip to be thwarted on the easy part, the final return. They had been too far away from the EMG pulse to be affected. Yet how could they reenter Earth’s atmosphere without guidance from space control on the ground?
Again, this is an intriguing novel. Slowly but surely humans start putting their lives back together. This book will probably have at least one follow up. Enough threads are left open and there are still potential Earth shattering problems to solve. And, just once, someone speculates on how Alpha Centauri went supernova in the first place. It couldn’t have really been a natural occurence, could have it? This novel is worth reading.