3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
What would you do if a devastating cosmic catastrophe took place? Shield Down by William de Berg provides us with a possible long-term survival guide just in case something like this happens. This science-fiction novel starts with a brilliant scientist of the Swift center, Carletta Jackson, observing and recording a gamma eruption of a magnetar SGR 0245+05. She hurries to inform her old mentor, James Templeton, the astrophysicist who discovered this magnetar. His longtime prediction of a cosmic calamity comes true. A perfect storm occurs - the magnetar erupts when the Earth's magnetic field is weak. Another Templeton's younger colleague, John Bazany, is more or less prepared for the disaster. He built an underground colony of survivalists named Hades Retreat. Bazany and Templeton are sure that the survival of the human race depends on this colony. But Jacqueline DeFazio, the head of NASA’s Space Life Sciences Directorate and Templeton's former love interest, presents her unexpected backup plan.
The book is written uncompromisingly and gives us detailed information about how to survive underground. For example, I hadn't the slightest idea what a convenient plant bamboo was. According to the book, it is suitable as a building material, source of food, paper, and even clothing. The characters are reliable, and a dystopian society is pictured very realistically. For instance, a violent scene with Jim Templeton on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is horrifying.
It is worth mentioning that the scientific background of the book is very well explained and is easy to comprehend even for such a layperson in the field of astrophysics as I am. I also liked that the author supported his statements with multiple sources given in the footnotes almost on every page of the book.
I disliked that the author abruptly switched the focus off such a promising character as Carletta Jackson was. She is a beautiful African-American woman. Carletta is bright, hard-working, and daring. She came to Templeton when no one else wanted to work with him due to his damaged reputation. I would love to have more, much more of her in the book. Yet, after being mentioned at the beginning of the book, she almost completely disappears, and her fate remains unclear. This aspect of the book left me disappointed. Also, the book lacks a strong storyline, in my opinion. Narrative switches from one perspective to another in a bit erratic manner. I would add that the plot gets too gloomy regarding some characters. I cannot say more to avoid spoilers.
Considering all the mentioned above flaws, I awarded this book with only 3 out of 4 stars. I could not reduce the rating by one more star because of the exceptional editorial work and the absence of errors.
I recommend this book to fans of the science fiction genre. Without any doubt, the book would also appeal to readers of dystopian novels. Readers interested in cosmic catastrophes, theories of mass distinction, and their possible astrophysical explanations should read it as well. Those who love analyzing conspiracy theories would enjoy the book, for it touches on an alleged controversy with NASA's Moon landing. And, of course, survivalists can find very many helpful tips and ideas in this book.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon