The sky is falling — again. Following up on 1998’s excellent Aftermath, Starfire subjects planet Earth to yet another cosmic blast from the Alpha Centauri supernova. But while the blast that hit Earth in Aftermath simply cooked the Southern hemisphere and knocked out unshielded technology with a flash of gamma rays, this wave promises to do some real damage, with a sleet of trillion-nuclei bundles moving at one-tenth the speed of light.
Warned by the first catastrophe, Earth began building an electromagnetic shield out of the orbiting SkyCity station to divert the incoming apocalypse. But not only will the storm come earlier than expected, the carnage may be worse than anyone imagined — preliminary data shows that the supernova was no accident, and that the wave of particles may in fact be a beam. Crackerjack hard-SF author Charles Sheffield brings back much of the cast of Aftermath for this suspenseful, well-paced follow-up, the two most satisfying returnees being sociopath-savant Oliver Guest and his former patient Seth Parsigian. In the book’s subplot, the brilliant Guest and gruff Parsigian must team up to solve a string of grisly child murders on Sky City that threatens to push the shield project even further behind schedule.