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 deadly. We get to meet the leader of the militant sect who has designs towards seizing power and cleansing the world of all evil, even if that means scraping to the bone. Hmm….who would I rather face in a darkened room – mad scientist or delusional religious cult leader? Hard to choose.
This book started off a bit slow, but once the set up was complete, I had a great time following along as the individual characters chase after what is most important to each after a world calamity. I did have a giggle over Mr. President Saul Steinmetz. So, supernova hits, some countries suffer horrendous loses due to violent weather, etc. It is weeks, if not months, before any kind of phone service can be restored. It finally is and calls flood the White House. Mr. President literally has over 500 calls to return, including to military and political leaders world wide. However, his first call is a booty call. Yep, he returned his old flame’s call first and set a date *shakes head*. Then, he actually gets to leave the White House, first trip out since the calamity struck, and it is to inspect a nearby military base…sort of. He meets his presidential aid, a very hot young lady who has her own ideas of how to climb the ladder to power and fame. So, his first trip out turns out to be a tail chasing expedition *face palm*. You would think that while all the power was out and little to do after the sun goes down, someone would have been servicing the President? Anyway, just a humorous side note.
I really liked that there was a great mix of characters: the elderly, Jews, gays, Black-Hispanic, Asians, etc. This book was originally written in 1998 and it has stood the test of time. The tech described in this tale is still just beyond what we can do today. Having characters from all walks of life, just like in real life, instead of an all Caucasian cast, is excellent. Sheffield also writes women characters quite well – like they are real people. So, for all that, he gets my applause.
Our narrator, Gary Dikeos, was OK. He gets an A for effort, but I found his voices a little fake, some hard to get use to. He nailed some of the accents and others not at all. His voice for Dana and Art were great. His voice for the President was whiny……was that on purpose? Anyway, I had a hard time picturing the President as a handsome woman catcher because of the voice given to him. Still, if Book 2 becomes available with the same reader, I would probably give it a shot.