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After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall by Nancy Kress

01/04/2012. Contributed by Aidan Fortune

Buy After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall in the USA - or Buy After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall in the UK

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pub: Tachyon. 185 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61696-065-0.

check out website: www.tachyonpublications.com

‘After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall’ is a simple time travel story details how the Earth was decimated by an alleged alien biological attack and what the human race had to do to survive afterwards.

We start with the survivors in 2035 who, after said fall, are imprisoned in a protective shell by the aliens, dubbed the ‘Tessies’. They’ve been given a machine enabling them to travel to the past for brief periods of time. The survivors utilise this to grab supplies and young children that they kidnap to the future to help re-populate the planet.

The shell and the ‘grab’ machine gives them everything they could need. However, the small group of survivors, especially teen-ager Pete, who is the reader’s eyes in the future, understandably have a sense of frustration over the situation. They while away the time between ‘grabs’ plotting to kill the aliens despite never having seen one properly.

Before the fall in 2013, mathematician Julie Kahn has found a way to chart the kidnappings and predict when and where they will happen next. Quite how she does this is unclear, something to do with algorithms and the like but if you’re going to throw out fancy words like that, a little more explanation would be appreciated.

Pete and Julie find themselves on a collision course through time as the latter tracks the former’s movements and visits from the future. Her research is interrupted by an impending biological disaster and the fact she’s recently become pregnant. Are you joining up the dots yet?

At times this book is an ecological warning and other times it’s a scrutiny of how morals break down in extreme situations. Pete and his fellow time travellers ‘grab’ children from the past with no guilt or understanding of the hurt they cause but believe they are doing it for the greater good.

My major gripe with this book is that I wish that author Nancy Kress found a more appropriate length to tell the tale. It would have greatly benefited from being either a fifty page short story that trimmed away some of the build-up or perhaps adding another hundred pages to flesh out some of the secondary characters more.

I don’t wish to sound overly critical of this book because it is enjoyable in parts. The build-up to the fall is quite well done with small one or two page chapters detailing how it grows are clever if a little rushed. Pete’s frustration and inability to cope with adult emotions is also well-handled, boys will be boys even in 2035 and humanity has almost been completely destroyed.

As long as you don't try to pick too many holes in the logic of this book, it makes an undemanding read that will allow you to decide how much impact it has on you.

Aidan Fortune

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