4 out of 4 stars
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Shield Down by William de Berg is a science fiction novel that describes the events before and after a succession of cataclysmic gamma bursts on the 24th of April 2032. Years earlier, Professor James Templeton and Nicholas Pavlich wrote an article about Magnetar 0245+05, the closest known Magnetar to earth, in which they explained the danger of gamma outbursts of this magnetar coinciding with the reversal of the earth’s magnetic field. Unknown to the professor, many governments around the world took his theory seriously and prepared underground hideouts. The reader will follow the preparations made before the outburst and the dramatic events that follow. Will humanity survive?
Science fiction novels and apocalyptic stories are my favorites, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review this book. I am absolutely amazed by the thorough research that the author did to write this novel. Most of this story is based on science. The story is supported by 199 footnotes, showing the truthfulness of the scientific background information. Whilst reading, I found myself continuously checking the footnotes and wondering if this could be a true description of humanity’s final days. Additionally, the character development was exceptional. The protagonists’ scientific careers are described in detail, making it difficult to believe that these are just fictional characters. I even checked the internet to find out if James Templeton is a real astrophysicist. Furthermore, William de Berg effortlessly describes a total time span of more than 200 years by cleverly using flashbacks and fast-forwarding to future generations of the initial survivors.
There is not much to dislike about this book. The story only slacks a bit after the first outburst, taking another 3 chapters before the events start to evolve. And I would have liked to know what happened to Carletta Jackson, one of the first scientists that the reader is introduced to. The reader is not informed about her fate.
This is a well-edited book with only five errors in its 235 pages. It might be clear that I enjoyed this read and gladly give it 4 out of 4 stars.
Shield Down is a believable story, convincing the reader that such a disaster could truly happen in the future. I recommend this book to science fiction lovers and people who wonder what the next mass extinction might look like. I do not recommend this story to people who prefer fast-paced novels as the events in this book are described thoroughly and take their time to evolve.
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