Reviewed: 2013-11-19 - (Review Updated: 2013-12-15)
The real crime of this story is that it wasn't twice as long and/or there was no sequel. It looks like the author has stopped writing as Al Steiner and this story may be finished. More the shame.
This is a long story at 21 multi-paged chapters. For all intents and purposes, it's 70 chapters, probably a full length novel.
I've read it twice and am starting it again. It's that good. Oh, yea, it's not perfect. Some of it is over the top. But don't let that take away from the enjoyment of a well told, fast paced story that is well researched with characters that are well developed and grow on you. Like Saunders, I found myself anxious as to whether a character was going to be killed or injured. This seldom happens to me and is one of the reasons I consider the story so good. I don't want to say more as it may give away some of the story and that just won't do.
Solid 10s all around
The wonderful thing about stories is that they create an entire universe that exists in your mind whilst you are reading. Sometimes, the tiny universe flares brightly and then dies as soon as it is read.
Sometimes, those universes continue to exist after the last page has been read and the cover has been closed. They continue to resonate inside a reader for a long time afterwards.
"Aftermath" is one such story. It both entertains and also piques one's interest in the ideas it presents.
After I read this tale, I needed to know more. I read about asteroid impacts, about survival training, about military tactics. This story can be one of those marvellous catalysts to mind expansion.
The question that this story caused to pop into my head at every new page, was 'what if?'
What if I had to survive in the wild against the fury of nature and the menace of roaming bands of cut-throats? What if I found a new home town who's inhabitants were mostly beautiful young women who spent their time trying to bed the few men left to them? What if the haven I managed to make my way to was so completely out of touch with the new reality that it fell to me to stand up for a new social morality?
And what if, amongst all this petty squabbling, sexual promiscuity and jealous in-fighting news came that a dreadful enemy was poised to enslave us all?
On top of all this stuff to make you *think* there are also Characters (with a capital 'C') that you can fall in love with or learn to despise. Beautiful young Chrissie for example or that evil demon Stu. At times when reading "Aftermath" I found myself holding my breath, truly worried for one of my favourite people.
The amount of painstaking effort that went into the research for this story shines through every paragraph. There were newsgroup discussions about this story when it was being posted, (more than many other stories) that argued whether certain plot twists were better or worse than other ideas or whether some character would behave in some way. That simply goes to show that those questions had already been thought through by the author. Each of Al's inhabitants in this new little universe seem to have their own autonomy and he was faithful to each and every one of them.
As always with Al Steiner's works, the character development is his main thrust, following a fabulous plot that just screams along at a breathtaking pace. The action scenes, be they in the bedroom or on the battleground, are vivid and stimulating. I have my own memories now, of the hills and valleys that his characters fought over and some wonderful images of some very horny sex! Some of the characters by necessity are stereotypical but that allows for some very valid discussion about broad human traits. In fact, the story could be thought of as an investigation of how certain personalities develop and behave in certain circumstances.
The only gripe I might possibly have with the story is that it is not twice as long and has not yet been made into a blockbuster movie... lol
10s all round!
This story is a story I would consider a true gem of a story. I have actually read it more than twice. I suggest everyone read this story.