After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

Nancy Kress
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall Cover

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall


This is a very enjoyable post-apocalyptic novella. The Before section is set in more or less the present day. Children are disappearing and a brilliant mathematician and police officer are trying to get to the bottom of it by studying the algorithms and patterns of snatching. Interposed between the chapters we get an inclination of what is going to happen as short chapters detailing ecological change intersperse the Before and After. I quite liked this as a structure and seeing the Earth as a character in this way really helped to se the theme for the book.

The After is set in the future where a small number of survivors live in a construct called the Shell. We encounter the lives of the survivors typically through the lives of teenagers. What I liked about the characterisation is that the teenagers behave like real teens with their 'almost adult' thoughts, feelings and desires whilst at the same time their relative lack of experience and knowledge comes through. They don't appear to be smart and this vulnerability matters and makes the novella much better for it.

The twists in the plot one can see a mile away and there are a few unsatisfying questions unanswered (who built the Shell and why?). Some of the conclusions are rather implausible however I can say that the pacing and themes kept me engaged throughout. I did feel a little that there is a full length novel here also which I think is in the story's favour.