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Shield Down
SGR 0245+05, a dangerous magnetar within close galactic proximity, shows signs of erupting just as the Earth is in a magnetic reversal and losing its magnetic shield. Professor James Templeton, a brilliant but maligned astrophysicist who alone predicted the eruption of "+05", is summoned to Washington, DC, by Dr. Jacqueline DeFazio, his former lover and head of NASA's Space Life Sciences Division, to consult with high-ranking governmental officials about the prospects for a major starquake in "+05". He tours one of over one hundred American underground mini-cities that were built in the preceding decade based on his scientific predictions and is astounded by the realization that NASA and Dr. DeFazio were following up massively on his predictions of doom, even as they were attacking him in public. The magnetar strikes almost immediately after the high-level briefing and before he and DeFazio can reignite their relationship. Templeton is trapped in DC but manages to return home after a harrowing cross-country trip across a dystopian America in the initial stages of societal collapse. After two hundred years, the restoration of the magnetic shield leads a small number of underground survivors to eventually resurface to a feudal world of warring tribes.
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Official Review: Shield Down by William de Berg

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Post by Kibetious » 21 Mar 2020, 10:31

[Following is an official review of "Shield Down" by William de Berg.]

4 out of 4 stars

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The first eruption of a magnetar, SGR 0245+05, made Professor James Alan Templeton pay more attention to it. He noted the bursting of the magnetar occurred every twenty-five years and that every eruption threatened to destroy Earth’s magnetic shield. Meanwhile, the renowned professor was being fiercely opposed by the astrophysical community for disapproving theories that had been held for years. John Bazany, one of his graduate students, had requested James to supervise his doctoral dissertation that would dispute another major claim. However, no one had been willing to join and serve in his dissertation committee. Therefore, John had been forced to leave the department. He began actively looking for caves that would provide shelter for a few human beings in case another magnetar bursting posed a serious risk of extinction. Unbeknownst to both James and John, plans were underway in other parts of the world to develop underground colonies as well following James’s publication.

Eventually, the worst gamma eruption struck causing massive devastation one afternoon. Consequently, humankind began an immense exodus to the underground after a long time of waiting, hoping and fearing. Were they adequately prepared for subterranean life? Who had been selected to be among the survivors? How were they selected? How many years would it take for conditions on Earth to be favorable for human habitation again? Would any underground colony survive to the end? What had caused James to attract fierce critics?

Shield Down was authored by William de Berg and published by Trafford Publishing in 2020. The book falls into the genre of science fiction. It is 243 pages long and is divided into two parts dealing with life before the gamma eruption and then in the underground settlements. It is further subdivided into nineteen chapters.

The book was gripping from the first page. It adequately described what the aftermath of a social breakdown would look like. There were vivid descriptions of widespread chaos and fear leading to even more threatening situations. People no longer worried about anything else. Personal survival was the only thing everyone was thinking about. The author’s descriptions were realistic, and the reader is left with a great deal to think about. A lot of allusions were also made to modern but less known scientific developments in the current world. The author also achieved his goal of informing, provoking, and entertaining through a series of questions and statements on major historical events.

Character development in the book was excellently done. There were very many amazing and fascinating characters. Some like Professor James Templeton suffered terribly for standing up for new truths, but they still sacrificed all they had for the greater good of humanity. One of James’ colleagues remarked that he had warned humanity at the cost of his own reputation. Jacqueline DeFazio, a scientist who convinced NASA to invest massively in underground settlements, took Professor Jim’s discoveries and proposals seriously although the professor thought she was against his ideas. It seemed many people viewed things in his perspective but there were great concerns they had to deal with. All the major characters were admirable. The pot was equally well-built.

In general, I found the book not only enthralling but also gripping, thought-provoking, and informative. The language employed was straightforward and editing was professionally done too. I only found two grammatical errors that did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. There is nothing I disliked about the book. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. It will appeal most to ardent fans of sci-fi books. Those who are fascinated with topics such as astrophysics will also enjoy reading it.

US Review of Books


Shield Down
by William de Berg
Trafford Publishing



"As she was about to sit down, Jackson suddenly became transfixed by one of the computer screens as it lit up with a huge spike..."

In this dystopian work, Earth is threatened by a major "star quake," as SGR 0245+05 seems about to erupt. Astrophysicist James Templeton is summoned to Washington, D.C., for meetings about the probability of a major disaster that could destroy much of the planet. The formerly maligned Templeton discovers that, despite their discredit of his predictions of a decade before, NASA has demonstrated its belief in the veracity of Templeton's findings by having built mini-cities underground in the U.S. The magnetar, +05, strikes Earth, and a small number of people find safety. Humans surface after two hundred years to begin life again. Have humans, once again in conflict, learned anything about themselves and the care of their environment?

Dystopian novels seem to have a pertinent place in literature in their warnings of destruction that usually are caused by humanity in physical forms, psychological forms, or both. The questions, "Can the destruction be averted?" and "What can we do?" seem less important than whether or not humans can learn and adapt to circumstances while there is still time. Author de Berg is a master of the dystopian story. His novels, "a mix of historical facts and analysis wrapped up in thrilling action and suspense," include plots of the control of media, drug trafficking by the CIA, the reactionary anti-U.S.S.R. Bilderberger Group, the story behind the attacks on the World Trade Center, and wars fought over the control of oil. This book, like the author's other tales, is an intriguing foray into human psychology. His storyline, though set in the future, reflects modern sensibilities and could hold universal appeal.