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After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,609 ratings  ·  416 reviews
The year is 2035. After ecological disasters nearly destroyed the Earth, 26 survivors—the last of humanity—are trapped by an alien race in a sterile enclosure known as the Shell.

Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the Six—children who were born deformed or sterile and raised in the Shell. As, one by one, the survivors grow sick and die, Pete and the Six struggle to put aside
Paperback, 189 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Tachyon Publications (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wil Wheaton
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A quick and effortless read that is profoundly rewarding, and satisfying. I've been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction lately, and this is one of the few that was so plausible in places, it was truly frightening. I highly recommend it.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.75 stars for this 2012 Nebula award-winning (and Hugo nominated) SF novella. I have a seriously alarming stack of books to read but I opened this one up last night and it was short enough and interesting enough to suck me in until I finished it (around 1 am). It's a combination of worldwide environmental disaster and time travel.

Kress freely jumps back and forth between a couple of different time periods in our day and a grim future, only about 20 years years later. A small, isolated group of
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
A relatively short (under 200 pages) but interesting novel that puts a unique spin on the apocalypse. As the title suggests, each chapters carries us backwards or forwards in time, telling three intersecting stories:

AFTER THE FALL: A claustrophobic, emotionally charged, post-apocalyptic tale of dying adults, damaged adolescents, and stolen children.

BEFORE THE FALL: Cold and efficient, a contemporary drama surrounding one woman's struggle to decipher a mystery while preparing for single motherhoo
James Reid
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Hugo Nominee Review 2013 - Novella 3 (17500-40000 words)

Can an ending to a book retroactively make you dislike what came before? The fall has a standard sf trope, time travel to bring people forward to repopulate after a disaster, and plays with the structure by having incidents After, Before and During the disaster. I found the story generally interesting, though the writing of the characters felt a little flat. The wrapping up of the before was really good, the whole during was underwhelming,
Kara Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

After the Fall
It is the year 2035. Life on Earth has ceased to be, humanity reduced to a handful of survivors trapped together in "The Shell" (a hull built by an alien intelligence that survivors refer to as "Tesslies") that shields its human captors from the desolate wasteland outside. Of the 26 original adults taken into the Shell before the annihilation of life, just a scant a few remain. But hope endures, because these original survivors copulated and
After a world-wide catastrophe (or series of catastrophes), only a few humans survive. They are trapped inside a bunker, with sufficient water, air and food (unvaried though it may be) but too much genetic damage to continue the human race. In hopes of keeping their species going, they start traveling into the past and kidnapping the healthy babies they find. This part of the story is told through the eyes of Pete, a rather stupid teenager who was born in the bunker and views the world of the pa ...more
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
It's easy to see why Nancy Kress's After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall has done well with science fiction's premier awards. Winning the Nebula and the Locus for best novella and garnering a nomination for the Hugo, the story is equally intriguing and gripping. It's too bad her story flops for failure to satisfy reader expectations.

Pete, one of the Six, lives in the completely enclosed and environmentally controlled "Shell" in the year 2035. They are descendents of the few remaining
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
Reading this shortly after the Hunger Games trilogy may not have cast it in a favourable light: it has some of the technical problems of Collins and none of the passion. This comes over as a polite request not to trash the planet which is weak compared with the raw outrage expressed by Collins. There's no suggestion as to how to avoid trashing the planet. And there's the problem that the science is implausible, the ideas unoriginal, and the situation, "after the fall" exceedingly improbable. It' ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Pretty well-paced and thought out for a novella, a bit simplistic in the end, but who can hate an apocalypse that you can time travel to before and after?
Mike Finn
Powerful end-of-the-world science fiction that is well written, elegantly structured and delivered on personal, human scale that increases its impact.

Nancy Kress' novella packs a big punch into a small package by combining powerful ideas with a clever story-telling structure and telling the story through the eyes of people you don't typically find at the heart of a so-this-is-the-end-of-the-world? story.

The makes-my-brain-stutter title, 'After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall' isn't ju

Rachel (Kalanadi)
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Very strange, lots of stuff thrown together - ecological disaster, humans destroying the Earth, single mothers, mathematical algorithms, FBI investigations, alien intervention, time travel, baby snatching, sex- and testosterone-fueled teen boys - and it was just... kinda weird. I feel like this was all written to not-so-subtly say how terrible humans are for the planet.
Terry Weyna
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In recent years, I’ve hesitated to pick up a hard science fiction novel. The quantum physics one must be familiar with to enjoy the novel is so far beyond me that I feel I need a physics course or two as a prerequisite. It’s hard to appreciate a novel when you haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on.

Trust Nancy Kress to write a hard science fiction novella that is so clear, so precise and so well-written that the reader is never left behind. It is no surprise that After the Fall, Before the Fa
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Novella split into three parts, as evidenced by its title, and centred on the fall of mankind -- after the destruction of the Earth's climate, a few survivors labour onwards to rebuild our species, courtesy some inscrutable aliens serving as custodians of the human race.

My rating's hovering between a 3 and a 4. (Seriously, Goodreads, why won't you do half-stars?) I was fascinated by the "After the Fall" + "During the Fall" segments, and was drawn to almost all of the characters. It's an interest
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction

Nancy Kress has put together an interesting and frightening book about what we as humans are doing to the Earth. The theme is woven into the story but the words “we did it to ourselves” do not appear until the very end of the book.

I usually have problems with books that flash back and forth in time but in After, Before and During the Fall that format works exceedingly well. By flashing back and forth the entire story is told in just 189 pages. We get to see life in 2035 and the contract with li
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this in the 2013 SF Challenge, for Category #9 "Time Travel" My copy was in kindle ebook format from Wisconsin Digital Library.

This received a nomination for 2012 Nebula novella award; the winners have not yet been determined.

While this very short novel has a good hook, and contains a lot of good writing, it felt incomplete to me. The narrative toggles between the very near future, and one generation down the timeline after a global catastrophe has left only a small habi
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel is pretty much summed up by the title. As always with apocalyptic books, and especially near-future ones, I was terrifically disturbed by the premise. Kress did a great job of weaving timelines and characters. I loved the structure; she managed to create suspense despite telling us the (almost) end right in the title. She is a master of structure and pacing, and she literally wrote the book on beginnings and endings. A moving cautionary tale.

As an aside, the descriptions of Pete remin
aPriL does feral sometimes
Through the use of flashbacks between the before of 2013 and the during of 2014, and the after of 2035, and changing character points of view, the author Nancy Kress writes of an apocalypse which has caused humanity to be wiped off the face of Earth, except for a few dozens of adults.

The surviving adults made a pact to repopulate the Earth, but they are doing so under a mystery they do not understand. (view spoiler)
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Excellent writing, as usual, from Nancy Kress. The title misled me to think the book would have three sections, but it was three intertwined stories, with no problem seeing how they were related. The fall, of course, was a worldwide catastrophe. The small group of people in the future were plucked from the catastrophe by aliens and enclosed in a dome, since the Earth was unlivable. They blame the aliens for the fall, but the obvious question is, did the aliens cause it, or were they rescuers? Th ...more
In the year 2035, all that’s remaining of humanity is a group of twenty-six people who live in the Shell, an enclosure built two decades ago by the alien race known as the Tesslies when an environmental cataclysm made our world uninhabitable. The six genetically mutated children who were born inside the Shell are mankind’s final hope of survival, also because they are the only ones who can use the Tesslie technology known as the “Grab”: a brief ten minute trip back into the time before the Earth ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
...I enjoyed After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall a lot but I don't think it is a brilliant work. It surely has a lot to offer to the reader but some of the elements of this story didn't quite work for me. As science fiction novels go, you could do a lot worse though. Kress is writer who is always keenly aware of the impact of environment or technology on her characters, always adding a personal touch to what are usually stories that have a very large impact, often on a global scale. ...more
Mary Robinette Kowal
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
After the Fall, During the Fall, Before the Fall is the coming of age story for the human race. Nancy Kress has written a chillingly plausible tale of the end of the world.

I loved this book and at the same time wanted to hide from it. There are a lot of writers who tackle the end of the world, but no one makes it seem as real as Nancy Kress does. She makes no attempt to answer every question, because the few people left standing at the end just don't know. Neither do we. What After the Fall, Dur
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story moves between three timelines of an apocalypse. Twenty six survivors. How will mankind survive? Will it?
This was a seamless (if you suspend disbelief in such things as time portals) story that in its possible reality can be quite sobering in idea. A fun read.

This is an author for me to be more aware of. A couple of years back I read another of her books: Beggars in Spain and really enjoyed it as well. This novella reminded me of how much I enjoy her wr
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I thought the book was too simple and predictable. I liked the three storylines advancing in parallel, and had no problem keeping the three of them straight. But the book was really short, and it didn't delve deeply enough into any of the themes.

There were also some plot holes. For example, the brilliant mathematician was able to see a pattern in the locations and times of the kidnappings, after three incidents. That's not enough to deduce a pattern. And I wanted to know what kind of pattern it
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
'lab rat literature' is a subgenre of Science Fiction. Take a small group of strangers, enclose them in limited space, add various puzzles and challenges without user guides. Then, watch the emotional games. Kress does this well, and BTFDTFATF was a can't put down read. There was not a single idea in the novel that had not been done many times before by many other authors. Reminded me of Benford's Tmescape, for example. Kress wrote a short story, The Kindness of Strangers, also excellent and had ...more
Kayleigh Brennan
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm leaving this novel feeling very conflicted. the first 50ish pages read to me like trade fiction in the worst way. there are far too many cliches, the hard calculating independent woman who has an affair with a married man and finds maternal softness when she becomes pregnant for example. also her voice for the 15 year old boy who is one of the main characters made me cringe at points, I feel it missed the mark quite a bit. that all being said, I like this novel conceptually. and the last may ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
A bit bland and no thrilling events accured. I did not get bored, but that's probably just because I love subjects about saving the human race an rebuilding​ the world, but I don't think this will be one of those books that lingers on in my mind for weeks after reading them. Nothing memorable about it. meh!
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)

As the title indicates, After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall follows three different strings of the same story. One of them takes place around 2013-2014 and focuses on the bright mathematician Julie Khan. She is working on an algorithm that is taking mysterious incidences of child kidnappings and odd store robberies and trying to predict future targets. Meanwhile, around the same time, we see what is happening to the Earth: a dangerous b
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Nancy Kress is an American science fiction writer. She began writing in 1976 but has achieved her greatest notice since the publication of her Hugo and Nebula-winning 1991 novella Beggars in Spain which was later expanded into a novel with the same title. In addition to her novels, Kress has written numerous short stories and is a regular columnist for Writer's Digest. She is a regular at Clar ...more

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