Thursday, 28 February 2013

After Doomsday

The premise of Poul Anderson's After Doomsday (St Albans, Herts, 1975) is that an American spaceship crew returns from interstellar exploration to find that Earth has been sterilised in their absence. Anderson is well up to the tasks of describing both the murdered Earth and the crew members' responses.

On Earth:

the crust shook;
mountains broke;
volcanoes were born;
oceans cooled back down from boiling;
winds swept " stone continents which had lately run molten..." (p. 7);
ash, smoke, acid rain, sulphurous clouds, lightning.

Of the crew:

the field physicist/detector officer ran to the far end of the ship, hitting bulkheads en route;
the executive officer lay on the deck, drew up his knees and covered his face;
the astronomer and the planetographer concentrated on their instruments as if trying to find a malfunction;
the captain went into a trance;
the mechanical engineer kept his head and eventually had to replace the captain.

As usual, Anderson excels both at physical descriptions and at characterisation.

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