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Aftermath (Supernova Alpha, #1)
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(Supernova Alpha #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  739 ratings  ·  45 reviews
It's 2026, and catastrophe has struck from an unexpected source. The Alpha Centauri supernova has risen like a second sun, rushing Earth toward its last summer. Floods, fires, starvation, and disease paralyze the planet. In a blue aurora flash of gamma rays, all microchips worldwide are destroyed, leaving an already devastated Earth without communications, transportation, ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 547 pages
Published August 3rd 1999 by Spectra (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  739 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
My first post-apocalyptic book. I read it when I was 13 so I can't be objective about it, but I remember it 15 years later so, 4 stars! ...more
Willow Brooks
I quit. I just can't take it no more. ...more
Mary A.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
It was just ok. The audiobook version is terrible. The narrator needs to NOT narrate anything ever again. I felt the storyline had a slow start, but I was able to get into it at about the 3/4 mark. Many characters to keep up with, with details about their lives that don't matter or have any relevance to the storyline. ...more
Sean Randall
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really managed to get into this one. The variety of character was such that I never felt stuck on a single point of view, and the story itself is certainly written well. I’ll be picking up the sequel soon and no mistake.
Nancy Shaffer
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: solar-system
So bad. Stiff prose, idiotic characters, and histrionic soap operatics that detracted from the story lines. If you still plan to read this, avoid the audio book version at all costs. I'm pretty sure a good fraction of my impressions come from that atrocious performance. ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The narrator on the audiobook does really terrible women's voices, that always sound vapid or sarcastic, which takes away from the intent of the written character.

I'd say this novel is pretty B-rate. The author didn't really explore the interesting concepts that were laid out throughout the plot.
K.V. Witten
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apocolyptic
I enjoyed this book. A bit of the science seemed a bit far out there but I like the idea of an apocolypse brought on not by war or plague but by gamma rays that destroyed all microchips. I'm going to look for 'Starfire', the sequel to this book. ...more
surprisingly good from an author I'd never heard of. I found this by chance on Overdrive but I really enjoyed it and intend to get the sequel. It was a good space/dystopia mix, exactly what I was looking for. ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I cannot take another moment of the torture that is this narrator. I will get the text version and continue because I am interested in he story but it is ruined by the reading.

I liked the opening chapter of the book (prologue) -  from the secret diary of Oliver Guest. The concept of judicial sleep is interesting. So is the idea of abyssal sleep where at the reduced body temperature the prisoner's ageing process will decrease.


This sci-fi novel is structured in such a way that neither its central idea nor the main character are clearly defined. If we come to an agreement that the theme of the novel is keeping the country (USA) from falling apart due to the disa
Feb 06, 2021 added it
In 2026, a supernova sends an EMP that wipes out the world's electronic systems.

This is the third time I've read this book and I really enjoy it every time. It's kind of old-fashioned: there are multiple points of view but the main ones are a group of cancer patients who are desperate to continue their technically advanced treatments, a group of astronauts returning from the first Mars mention, and the President of the United States who wants to help everyone and slowly realizes that might mean
This was definitely a weird book. The story was quite interesting, and so were some of the characters (though with so many who were supposed to have very different backgrounds it was really evident how Sheffield tends to assign to each person the same kind of analytical approach that is very... mathematician-like). Sadly, it felt like it had a lot of potential that didn't really go anywhere.
The writing was really clunky, with a lot of explanatory sentences that read like explanations written in
May 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a very good post-catastrophe book, in the honored tradition of Lucifer's Hammer or When Worlds Collide or Shiva Descending. You know, a very long vacation kind of story. In this one, Alpha Centauri has gone nova, and we follow a trio of viewpoints through the wrecked relics of civilization. It's set in 2026, and Sheffield's vision of technological advance was overly optimistic but still quite engaging. He brought a more science-based outlook to the disaster genre, and Aftermath is a wort ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Slow pace at first, but hang in there. Super Nova Alpha is an atmoshperic threat to the world. Looking at global warming today may bring about questions of other possibilities. A doctor with strange concepts of his own may lead one to question possibilities derived from missing children.

There is even a female Jim Jones. Life is full of surprises. "What are the future test on humans" one should ask.
Mark Blei
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Normally I have a healthy suspicion in the EMP Post Apocalypse genre as they mostly focus on the event and prepping and then it’s right off to killing invading hoards of those who were not prepared. This book however combined a space opera, and good science fiction and focused heavily on the reconstruction of society after the event. I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to reading the next book in the series
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great vacation book. As usual, Charles presents a good plot line with lots of hard science to back it up. Funny that the "future" in this book is only eight years away now - but interesting in that it correctly predicts how our lives are becoming more and more dependent on electricity and microchips. ...more
Curtis Penner
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The story was weak and full of holes. The dialogue was emotionally void. A high school short story could have done better. The best part was that it was a fast vacation read and provide material for our discussion about the books we read during our summer vacation. #1 is the first of a series and my last.
Keith Bell
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Third time through. I remember being enthralled the first couple times and while the story remains good it lacks the punch it did the first time.

NOTE: Much like Ben Bova, Sheffield dates himself with his caricaturization of race.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
I tapped out and had to stop.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF. Boring. Bad narrator on audiobook version.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The build up was almost too much. Checked out book 2 from the library. We shall see if the conclusion will be worth it.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
First off, there are two books in this series, which I didn't know when I started this one. There are a lot of loose ends left untied, so you'll want to have the second book on standby.

The story is clever. The plot is interesting. The science is good. I was particularly delighted at the diversity in characters (both in race, gender, and sexuality); not something I expected from a 1990s hard science fiction novel!

The writing is, admittedly, not beautiful. I would go so far as to call it clunky i
For most of the book, we get to follow Art and Dana, though we do get snippets of other people like the astronauts, the US President, the leader of the militant sect, etc. Dana is practical and a survivor. Art is sometimes too polite, but also determined to survive. Seth is creepy, but by the end I was rooting for him. Perhaps because Charles Sheffield gave us other, bigger bad guys to worry about. There are little diary entries by the mad scientist (Oliver Guest) – and he is truly brilliant and ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This one satisfied my love for both post-apocalyptic fiction, as well as space adventure. It left a lot of questions unanswered, but luckily, there is a sequel!

Chapters from the perspective of the criminal were in the format of a "secret diary", which was kind of interesting. This character was my second favorite narrator, after the president. I even enjoyed the sprinkling of romance throughout the story. But best of all was the "what-if" scenario of a supernova in Alpha Centauri.

Though, the dev
Douglas Debner
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars really.

Charles Sheffield tells the story of earth if Alpha Centauri went supernova. I generally find "end of the world" books to rely on stupidity to move the story forward. That is not the case here. Here Sheffield weaves several story lines together to create an enjoyable and interesting tale. One story line is that of the current President and the people who would manipulate them. Also are the astronauts of the first mission to Mars, stranded in space by the universal and massive de
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: an apocalyptic Dickens fan
Shelves: science-fiction
This book was a gift from a friend whose neighbor was moving and clearing out her book shelves. Lucky me I received 3 grocery bags of various books. If I had been moving I wouldn't have thought twice about giving this book away. I'm not saying it was a bad or boring read, but the pacing was that of a made for TV movie definitely G rated. There are many quirky characters, but the pacing was that of a19th Dickens' novel. I was engaged with some of the characters some of the time but felt the novel ...more
Nov 08, 2011 marked it as to-read
This book was recommended to me by today's astroseminar speaker, Brian Fields (University of Illiniois at Urbana Champaign). He was talking on detecting nearby supernovae that have gone off within the lifetime of the earth (~4 Gyr) by looking for ^60Fe isotopes which have a lifetime less than the age of the earth.
At one point, he admitted that some of this was talked about in this book, Aftermath. He said it was pretty good science, except for that Alpha Centauri is what goes supernova. At least
Sep 07, 2014 rated it liked it
It's good, it's just not amazing and there are a couple of things that just didn't work.
The story is about the world in the future, after a catastrophe destroyed all modern technology and the way people cope with it. It follows a couple of main characters which are loosely connected. Of course, there has to be a little love story and that's my problem with the book: In my opinion, it just doesn't work. They have no connection at all and the dialogues are just so... weird. It seems that this sto
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I quite liked the variety of characters. Even though the plot has different aspects, and there are lots of different POV-s, they are written believably (women as well as men) and everybody has their own, unique voice. Also, the characters are not idealized, they are all flawed - possibly even disgustingly so - and very, very human.
Lastly, as in life, not everybody gets a happy ending (and some who you´d not want to get it, do). In my opinion, this book is above average for the genre and worth a
Stan Bobbitt
Feb 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The overall story was great. Space travel, apocalyptic disaster, global climate change, even a hint at alien involvement. I gave it an average rating mainly because of a possible discrepancy that I noticed in the story. Criminals are put into long term sleep rather than being put to death or held in prisons. The sleepers are described as being totally hairless, an after affect of the sleep process. However, when the cult leader is awakened, she is described as having her long brown hair in a twi ...more
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Charles A. Sheffield (June 25, 1935 – November 2, 2002), was an English-born mathematician, physicist and science fiction author. He had been a President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronomical Society.

His novel The Web Between the Worlds, featuring the construction of a space elevator, was published almost simultaneously with Arthur C. Clarke's novel

Other books in the series

Supernova Alpha (2 books)
  • Starfire (Supernova Alpha, #2)

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Secrets between siblings, grandparents with grievances, parents with problems. If you're looking for serious drama, check out these new...
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“From Aftermath:

Dr. Oldfield “Single celled and oceanic forms will presumably survive but it might make life impossible for humans.”
President Saul: “Actually, that tends to be my primary concern. Sponges and oysters will have to take care of themselves.”
More quotes…