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Cover image for After the fall, before the fall, during the fall
After the fall, before the fall, during the fall
First edition.
San Francisco : Tachyon, 2012.
Physical Description:
189 pages ; 21 cm
"In the year 2035, all that is left of humanity lives in the Shell. After ecological disasters have nearly destroyed the Earth, twenty-six survivors are imprisoned in a sterile enclosure built by an alien race. Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the six children who were born in the Shell. Though he possesses birth defects common to the Six, including sterility, Pete is resolved to lead humanity to a new beginning. However, as one by one the adults of the Shell grow mysteriously sick and die, Pete struggles to control his dangerous anger at the aliens. Though the Earth appears to be slowly healing itself, the survivors may not live long enough to repopulate it. Their only hope lies within randomly brief time-portals into the recent past, where Pete and the Six are abducting children to increase their gene pool."--Provided by publisher.


Call Number
SCI-FI Kress, N.

On Order



2012 Nebula Award Winner
2012 Locus Award Winner
2013 Hugo Nominee
2013 Sturgeon Award Nominee

In the year 2035, all that is left of humanity lives in the Shell.

No one knows why the Tesslies attacked in 2014, devastated the environment, and nearly destroyed humanity. Or why the aliens imprisoned twenty-six survivors in a sterile enclosure built on the barren remains of the Earth.

Fifteen-year-old Pete, one of only six children born in the Shell, is determined to lead humanity to a new beginning. But Pete struggles to control his anger as, one by one, the survivors sicken and die. Although the Earth appears to be slowly healing, the Shell's inhabitants may not live long enough to see it. The only chance for humanity lies within brief time portals. Peter and the survivors hatch a desperate plan: to increase their numbers by abducting children from the past.

In the year 2013, a brilliant CIA consultant sees a pattern in seemingly unrelated kidnappings. As Julie Kahn's predictive algorithms reveal that the world is in imminent danger, she discovers that she may also play a role in its possible rebirth. Julie and Pete are rapidly converging in time--a chance encounter between them may be the Earth's only hope.

Author Notes

Nancy Kress is an author who won Best Novella at the Nebula Awards 2014 for her title Yesterday's Kin.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nebula- and Hugo-winner Kress mixes time travel, global catastrophe, and mysterious aliens in this strong postapocalyptic tale. Gruff teenager Pete makes brief runs back in time from the desolation of the year 2035, using alien technology that can only transport children, to pick up fresh supplies and recruits. Julie, a mathematician in 2013, finds a pattern in a series of kidnappings. They are, of course, Pete's expeditions, and as the two head towards their inevitable collision, the clock ticks down on the catastrophe that will turn Julie's orderly world into Pete's devastated landscape. Kress handles the crisscrossing timelines with cool elegance, making a complicated story clean and easy to read. Some readers may find both the setting and the characters a little severe, but the ultimate message of hope and understanding resonates strongly. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

An alien invasion of Earth leaves 26 human survivors locked inside an enclosed habitat, protected from the ecological devastation around them. The alien Tesslies sporadically deliver a random assortment of supplies, including a device that opens brief time portals into Earth's past. The dwindling population, having produced only six genetically mutated offspring, uses these portals to kidnap children with undamaged genes to rebuild the human race. Two decades earlier, mathematician Julie Kahn assists the FBI in finding a pattern in the apparent random kidnapping of children even as an escalating environmental catastrophe approaches. With an expert eye for essential details and an economy of style, veteran sf and fantasy author Kress (Beggars in Spain; Probability Sun) weaves together past, present, and future in a compelling ecothriller. Verdict While the puzzle at the center of the story is not hard to solve, the process in which the characters-both past and future-discover the truth behind their situations provides a fascinating and satisfying journey for the author's many fans and time-travel aficionados everywhere. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.