Two scientists in remote locations must navigate the sudden loss of human life on Earth.
Augustine is one of the world’s top astronomers. In his late 70s, he is completing a final research project, stationed at the Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle, “the landscape that matched his interior.” Having neglected all his loved ones in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, Augie finds himself alone in the polar tundra after refusing to be evacuated with other scientists during a global emergency. Soon after he's left alone, he finds a young girl, Iris, who appears to have been inadvertently left behind. As the two attempt to adjust to life as, very possibly, the last humans on Earth, another story unfolds millions of miles away: the six-person crew of the Aether, a manned mission to Jupiter, is on its way back to Earth after a successful trip to study the giant planet. Sully, the astronaut in charge of communications, must try to figure out why all signals from Earth have suddenly ceased. Like Augie, she has also jettisoned family for science. However, as the parallel narratives unspool, both Augie and Sully find solace in their austere locales and in the relationships they forge with their companions at the edges of the world. Brooks-Dalton (Motorcycles I’ve Loved, 2015) is a writer who loves grand gestures, and she’s at her best when writing about the epic settings that anchor the book, as the arctic and deep space give Brooks-Dalton outlets that match her scope. However, both the plot and the writing itself frequently fall into this same grandiosity: when an apocalypse is the least dramatic part of a novel, one wonders if Brooks-Dalton might have gotten the same amount of punch with less extravagance.
An apocalyptic soap opera set in vividly imagined environments.