Aftermath by Levar Burton

Review by James Walton

Capsule review: Interesting first novel. I wonder who wrote it for him.

Okay! So maybe that isn't fair. But you must admit the track record for actors who become Science Fiction "experts" isn't very good. (Remember William Shatner's atrocious Tek Wars? He even had a ghost writer.)

Of course Mr. Burton is quite talented and experienced. He is the host and co-executive producer of the educational show Reading Rainbow, as well as the writer, producer and director of numerous TV shows and films. So I really shouldn't be surprised that he has turned out a quality product.

Aftermath is a fairly well polished, if unoriginal, story of life in the United States after a devastating racial war. The US Army decided to kill itself along the banks of the Mississippi River and its death throes smashed everything for miles around. What is left of the government is too weak and poor to fill in the bomb craters.

True to the human spirit, the survivors continued onward, despite the few jobs and fewer utilities. Science and some businesses even prospered.

The Beautiful Lady Scientist tries to do business with Rival Evil Scientists and immediately becomes a Damsel in Distress. Her calls for help are heard by various persons who drop everything and rush to her rescue. (Of course, they didn't have much to drop.) The police work on a strict, cash only basis, so the rescuers are on their own.

We follow the Disgraced Researcher, the Indian Shaman, and the Homeless Waif, separately and together, as they follow the voice. Through wits and luck they survive several adventures unscathed.

Of course there are several inconsistencies and unanswered questions. Among these "What are the other countries doing now that the United States is out of it?", "How can such a large organization be toppled so easily?", "Do you really expect me to believe the police didn't know this was going on?" and "Why are the professional security guards such bad shots?"

Mr. Burton (or whoever) succeeds in several ways. (Okay! I will knock it off with the whoevers!) Most books are filled with fairly generic characters, usually males of average height with white skin and brown hair. Burton gives us protagonists with dark skin who are not interchangeable with the standard hero. Skin color plays an important part in this novel, but that is not the only thing this book has to offer.

I did find myself wishing there were a few plot twists in Aftermath. It is well written with scenes and dialogue which flow naturally, but there is nothing new. I'll give this one three out of five stars.

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