4 out of 4 stars
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The first eruption of a magnetar, SGR 0245+05, made Professor James Alan Templeton pay more attention to it. He noted the bursting of the magnetar occurred every twenty-five years and that every eruption threatened to destroy Earth’s magnetic shield. Meanwhile, the renowned professor was being fiercely opposed by the astrophysical community for disapproving theories that had been held for years. John Bazany, one of his graduate students, had requested James to supervise his doctoral dissertation that would dispute another major claim. However, no one had been willing to join and serve in his dissertation committee. Therefore, John had been forced to leave the department. He began actively looking for caves that would provide shelter for a few human beings in case another magnetar bursting posed a serious risk of extinction. Unbeknownst to both James and John, plans were underway in other parts of the world to develop underground colonies as well following James’s publication.
Eventually, the worst gamma eruption struck causing massive devastation one afternoon. Consequently, humankind began an immense exodus to the underground after a long time of waiting, hoping and fearing. Were they adequately prepared for subterranean life? Who had been selected to be among the survivors? How were they selected? How many years would it take for conditions on Earth to be favorable for human habitation again? Would any underground colony survive to the end? What had caused James to attract fierce critics?
Shield Down was authored by William de Berg and published by Trafford Publishing in 2020. The book falls into the genre of science fiction. It is 243 pages long and is divided into two parts dealing with life before the gamma eruption and then in the underground settlements. It is further subdivided into nineteen chapters.
The book was gripping from the first page. It adequately described what the aftermath of a social breakdown would look like. There were vivid descriptions of widespread chaos and fear leading to even more threatening situations. People no longer worried about anything else. Personal survival was the only thing everyone was thinking about. The author’s descriptions were realistic, and the reader is left with a great deal to think about. A lot of allusions were also made to modern but less known scientific developments in the current world. The author also achieved his goal of informing, provoking, and entertaining through a series of questions and statements on major historical events.
Character development in the book was excellently done. There were very many amazing and fascinating characters. Some like Professor James Templeton suffered terribly for standing up for new truths, but they still sacrificed all they had for the greater good of humanity. One of James’ colleagues remarked that he had warned humanity at the cost of his own reputation. Jacqueline DeFazio, a scientist who convinced NASA to invest massively in underground settlements, took Professor Jim’s discoveries and proposals seriously although the professor thought she was against his ideas. It seemed many people viewed things in his perspective but there were great concerns they had to deal with. All the major characters were admirable. The pot was equally well-built.
In general, I found the book not only enthralling but also gripping, thought-provoking, and informative. The language employed was straightforward and editing was professionally done too. I only found two grammatical errors that did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. There is nothing I disliked about the book. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. It will appeal most to ardent fans of sci-fi books. Those who are fascinated with topics such as astrophysics will also enjoy reading it.
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