Review by Wamakima -- Shield Down by William de Berg

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Review by Wamakima -- Shield Down by William de Berg

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[Following is a volunteer review of "Shield Down" by William de Berg.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Earth has a magnetic field that protects life on the planet from most of the solar flares. However, at irregular times and for unexplainable reasons the magnetic field would change directions. The North becomes the South, and the South becomes the North. During this reversal, the magnetic field becomes weak and leaves us vulnerable and exposed. Templeton first discovered a soft gamma repeater capital SGR 0245+05 in 1982 and devoted his life to studying it. He realized that it erupts every 25 years and was worried about the danger it posed especially when the magnetic field is weakening.

He published a paper describing the cataclysmic effect of the soft gamma repeater and a possible extinction of the human race. He then suggested that underground cities be built to preserve technology and some of the human population. Top officials at NASA including his former love interest ridiculed his claim. His former graduate student John Bazany was the only one who openly took his prediction seriously. He and Templeton put together finances and infrastructure and built an underground colony known as Hades Retreat. As Templeton had predicted the magnetar SGR 0245+05 erupted in 2032. Will Bazany and Templeton make it into the colony on time or is the last hope of mankind vanquished?

Shield Down by William De Berg is a well-researched science fiction book. It stands at 235 pages and is set in the future. The book is divided into three parts; part one provides background information about the characters. Part two focuses on the gamma eruption, and the last part focuses on life after the eruption. The characters are well developed. It's easy to dislike DeFazio, the self-absorbed scientist who broke Templeton's heart. I admired Bazany's determination and courage, despite the attitude from his colleagues. It was also sweet to see the blooming friendship between Templeton and Pavlich.

I appreciated the footnotes that the author placed in the book providing references to some of the scientific theories. De Berg opened up my mind to think about extinction, and I wondered if we were prepared enough to prevent it. We're so caught up in our everyday lives, and he made me imagine a possible world with no electricity, computers or phones. I also like how he alluded that mankind's greatest moment of history never happened, while subtly pointing out the politics at NASA.

However, I felt that the ending was rushed. Life after SGR 0245+05 could possibly be a whole book itself. Apart from a couple of errors, the rest of the book is professionally edited. The plot is captivating and I enjoyed reading it. The author did a great job in describing the subterranean world, that it almost felt real. I therefore rate Shield Down 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to hardcore science fiction fans and anyone who's ever wondered how extinctions occur.

Shield Down
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But the path I’ve chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. :)
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