Where I Got It: From the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).
Who I Recommend This To: Anyone who enjoys near future tech and world calamity combined should check this book out.
Narrator: Gary Dikeos
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2013)
Length: 19 hours 48 minutes
Series: Book 1 Supernova Alpha
Alpha Centauri lights up the sky in a supernova, causing major weather and climate changes suddenly on Earth while at the same time gamma rays burn out microchips left and right, setting much of the world back to boiling water on a firewood stove. Many people survive the initial climatic disasters. However, communications have been disrupted and it’s hit and miss which countries can get their governments back online. People need extended medical care, and what about those prisoners we put into Judicial Sleep, a kind of cryosleep?
Art and Dana are both cancer survivors. Along with a small group of other cancer patients, they are at the cutting edge of medical science, receiving a breakthrough, yet still in the testing stage, telemere treatment. Some weeks after the initial supernova shock wave, phones are back, sort of. Art and Dana agree to meet Seth to come up with a plan. the plan involves freeing a scientist, and a sordid criminal, from cryosleep…if he hasn’t already melted. Meanwhile, the first astronauts to Mars are on their way back home….if they can safely land. As an international crew, they have differing opinions on what happened and how best to get home. Add to that political intrigue at the White House and a militant religious sect gearing up to make a move while the government is crippled.
For most of the book, we get to follow Art and Dana, though we do get snippets of other people like the astronauts, the US President, the leader of the militant sect, etc. Dana is practical and a survivor. Art is sometimes too polite, but also determined to survive. Seth is creepy, but by the end I was rooting for him. Perhaps because Charles Sheffield gave us other, bigger bad guys to worry about. There are little diary entries by the mad scientist (Oliver Guest) – and he is truly brilliant and deadly. We get to meet the leader of the militant sect who has designs towards seizing power and cleansing the world of all evil, even if that means scraping to the bone. Hmm….who would I rather face in a darkened room – mad scientist or delusional religious cult leader? Hard to choose.
This book started off a bit slow, but once the set up was complete, I had a great time following along as the individual characters chase after what is most important to each after a world calamity. I did have a giggle over Mr. President Saul Steinmetz. So, supernova hits, some countries suffer horrendous loses due to violent weather, etc. It is weeks, if not months, before any kind of phone service can be restored. It finally is and calls flood the White House. Mr. President literally has over 500 calls to return, including to military and political leaders world wide. However, his first call is a booty call. Yep, he returned his old flame’s call first and set a date *shakes head*. Then, he actually gets to leave the White House, first trip out since the calamity struck, and it is to inspect a nearby military base…sort of. He meets his presidential aid, a very hot young lady who has her own ideas of how to climb the ladder to power and fame. So, his first trip out turns out to be a tail chasing expedition *face palm*. You would think that while all the power was out and little to do after the sun goes down, someone would have been servicing the President? Anyway, just a humorous side note.
I really liked that there was a great mix of characters: the elderly, Jews, gays, Black-Hispanic, Asians, etc. This book was originally written in 1998 and it has stood the test of time. The tech described in this tale is still just beyond what we can do today. Having characters from all walks of life, just like in real life, instead of an all Caucasian cast, is excellent. Sheffield also writes women characters quite well – like they are real people. So, for all that, he gets my applause.
Our narrator, Gary Dikeos, was OK. He gets an A for effort, but I found his voices a little fake, some hard to get use to. He nailed some of the accents and others not at all. His voice for Dana and Art were great. His voice for the President was whiny……was that on purpose? Anyway, I had a hard time picturing the President as a handsome woman catcher because of the voice given to him. Still, if Book 2 becomes available with the same reader, I would probably give it a shot.
What I Liked: Lots of great, memorable characters; the bad guys are intelligent, logical, and oh so deadly; people from all backgrounds populate this tale; the female characters are believable; cool advanced technology; awesome book cover.
What I Disliked: The priority of Mr. President’s booty calls; the voice given to Mr. President by the narrator.
What Others Think: