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The unexpected supernova of Alpha Centauri affects Earth with catastrophic climatic events and the total failure of advanced technology, driving the planet to the brink of environmental and societal collapse. Sheffield (Tomorrow and Tomorrow, LJ 12/96) uses the familiar plot device of disaster fiction to tell a fascinating and complex tale of human determination and survival. Using the merged destinies of a small group of cancer patients, a renegade terrorist cult, the survivors of humanity's first expedition to Mars, and U.S. President Saul Steinmetz and escaped psychopath Oliver Guest as his touchstones, Sheffield provides a variety of unique voices that add a distinctive perspective to his story. Most libraries should add this well-written sf thriller to their collections.

"Charles Sheffield is one of the very best hard science fiction writers in the world."--Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy and Antarctica

"Sheffield clothes the most advanced speculations of modern science in alluring forms of beauty and danger."--The Washington Post Book World

Ho-hum: it's another global disaster. This time, a supernova has caused disastrous climatic effects and, if that's not enough, it has also sent out a massive electromagnetic pulse that has disabled all electrical devices worldwide. Sheffield centers his tale on the personal rather than the global‘three people with a very specific problem: their experimental cancer treatment has been disrupted, and the only chance they have for a cure lies with a man who has been sentenced to "judicial sleep"‘the humane alternative to imprisonment‘for serial murder. In addition, there's the crew of the first manned expedition to Mars, struggling to return to Earth; a powerful cult known as the Eye of God; and one Saul Steinmetz, the anguished president of the United States. Most of the main characters are one-dimensional and seem at least as interested in their love lives and personal relationships as they are in the state of the world. Still, Sheffield (Tomorrow & Tomorrow), who has won Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards, has taken an often-used scenario and given it enough of a twist to keep the pages turning. (Aug.)

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