Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE HERALD by Michael Shaara


by Michael Shaara

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0380613824
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Killer Angels: a sort of doomsday fairy tale—occasionally poetic but mostly just implausible and stereotype-bound. Nick Tesla and his girlfriend Rachel land his small plane at a Georgia college-town airport—where they find everyone dead. . . and Rachel herself soon dies. Some 70,000 people have died overnight, in fact, from some mysterious radiation; the streets are empty, wild dogs are eating corpses. And then, beyond the invisible radiation wall around the town, Nick meets an Army team led by Presidential troubleshooter Colonel Richard Ring and a scientific team led by Aldo Corelli. Will Nick, who clearly has some genetic resistance to the mysterious killer (it's sweeping the country), drive into town on a recon mission for Colonel Ring? He will—and he finds someone alive there: catatonic Ruth, whom he feeds and loves while running into a few more folks who have survived. But the survivors have no interest in leaving this now-pastoral and isolated town. And among the survivors is the man behind the radiation: A. M. Shepherd, a Nobel-winner in genetics; known as The Herald of the Lightning for his apocalyptic ideas, he's a member of the disaffected scientists banded into the "Club of Rome." So now Colonel Ring wants Nick to break into Shepherd's lab and locate his infernal machine. Nick wavers; Ring sends in guided electronic tanks to blow up the building; Shepherd dies. But his legacy is a genetic dust cloud now circling the planet and killing most of mankind (except for those peace-loving folks with the right genes). Smoothly written—but stuck in a no-man's-land somewhere between science fiction (or disaster-thriller) and serious fable.