Review: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

afterthefallPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616960655
ISBN 13: 9781616960650
Published: April 2012
Pages: 192
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Recommended

‘After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall’ by Nancy Kress, is a dystopian set in 2013, 2014 and 2035, telling the story from three split times as one could probably guess from the title. The different time settings show how the end of the world as we know it came to happen, what it was like when it did happen, and then what the world is like in the future.

We meet Julie, an FBI consultant who specialises in algorithms, trying to put method to the madness. Are the random kidnappings and shopliftings seen in the news connected, and if so, what do they all mean?

We also meet Pete, fifteen years old and disfigured, one of only six children who was born in the ‘Shell’, hater of Tesslies and kidnapper of children in order to give the world a chance.

What grabs you about this book is how plausible it all could be. Each section between Julie and Pete’s worlds is a short, showing how the devastation could begin – seemingly small changes that are so innocent and natural, seen in the world each year. While reading this you see how it could be happening this very moment, and the dates in the book – 2013 is only next year after all – only make it that much more dramatic.

For example, there was an earthquake in Melbourne only last night, as I write this. 5.2 magnitude and they don’t often get earthquakes. My father who was born there, can’t remember them happening that often at all.

The people Julie interacts with have depth and a surprising amount of characterisation for the little we get to see them. Those Pete is forced to live with show the demand the new world would enforce, social ties and performance changed for the benefit of survival; an interesting look into human nature.

The technology, the ‘Grab’ in particular, provides the link to the worlds and poses an interesting question regarding morals and how far we should allow ourselves to go – or demand we go – for the sake of the human race. Is it okay if it’s the only option remaining? Is it okay if mental anguish and pain for some means life for others?

Nancy Kress has on the Nebula (four times), Hugo, Sturgeon and Campbell awards, has been translated into nearly two-dozen languages (including Klingon) and has published over twenty novels and story collections.

At 187 pages, ‘After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall’ is so easy to pick up, perhaps especially for those who don’t read that often. It shows you don’t need a huge word count to tell a story that will captivate and stay with you long after, sticking in the back of your mind as you watch the news and take note of another earthquake, an odd change in marine life… movement in a volcano region…

This book is published by ‘Tachyon’, and can be bought at the following links:

– Tachyon Publications

– Book Depository

– Amazon US

– Amazon UK

(The provided links will not generate me any funds, they are simply there to ease your ability to find the book!)

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 26th June 2012.

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