Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review::After Doomsday by Poul Anderson

After DoomsdayAfter Doomsday by Poul Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After Doomsday by Poul Anderson

This is a book I read so many times I wore the glue off the back and had a copy with a rubber band holding it together for a number of years; until I finally replaced it with a used copy. I've read this at least half a dozen times maybe more. If there are any books that stand the test of time it is those by Poul Anderson. Sometimes the secret is to keep the description of some devices vague while injecting good science to back up what they are supposed to do.

Carl Donnan is one of several hundreds of men aboard the starship Franklin when they return to Earth to find it has been decimated of all life. Carl doesn't consider himself a leader; but finds himself in an awkward position when Captain Strathey seems too shocked to maintain control of the ship. There are anti-ship missiles hunting them down; weapons they assume were left by whoever of the advanced races did this. The missiles are Kandamirian; so it's not much thought to placing blame. Even so with the tension abounding it is difficult for Carl to keep the alien adviser aboard safe from harm though he is a Monwaing. The Monwaing are the ones who helped bring Earth into space. With tension high, though, every other space faring race is under a cloud of suspicion. Eventually Carl will reluctantly have to take charge of all the humans.

After escaping they seek sanctuary while waiting to find out if there were other ships with more humans out in space. There are, and right from the beginning we get a dual story told from the POV of the Franklin and crew and then the Europa and crew. Europa, thankfully, is a ship with a hundred females. Though neither knows of the other, the reader knows; so the story seems mostly to be about searching for clues to who murdered Earth. Even as the case becomes stronger against the Kandamirian and the men of Franklin begin to seek revenge; there is enough doubt that Donnan continues to search, because he wants to be certain he gets revenge on the correct aliens.

The task is difficult and things are never that clear and with Poul Anderson there is often a bit of a twist at the end: this one is no exception to that rule.

If I had one caveat in this all: I would say that it was pertaining to the bit of conceit in having the Franklin crew come up with such unique ideas to alter alien technology that help them develop some new and highly effective war hardware. Yes they do think differently, so perhaps there is that. Yet there are so many races already out in space using this technology that they’ve improve, you would think that one or more might just think close enough to have developed these seeming remarkable advancements.

Still all the raw emotion and the mystery and intrigue carry this story to keep it at a satisfying level that the suspension of disbelief remains intact despite the age of the novel.

This is an excellent Classic by one of the best in his field. I recommend this for all SFF fans.

J.L. Dobias

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