After Atlas by Emma Newman
Publication date: 22 February 2018
Genre: Science fiction
Length/page count: 12 hours 45 minutes/384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
I am not shy about shouting out my love of Emma Newman’s Planetfall — it is easily one of the best books that I’ve read this year. I have been looking forward to reading After Atlas ever since I finished up Planetfall, but I just hadn’t found the time until this summer. After Atlas is not a direct sequel to Planetfall, rather it is a companion novel set in the same universe, but it did not disappoint.
Gov-corp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas‘s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room-and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.
To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…
After Atlas is a very different book from its predecessor. Where Planetfall has the feel of a more classic science fiction novel that explores the concept of humans colonising a planet, After Atlas takes place back on Earth and is a sci-if noir novel. Much of the worldbuilding in this book made it feel incredibly realistic. From the gaming that is flooded with adverts, the shortage of real food, to the legalised slavery and human trafficking — it all paints a picture of an incredibly bleak future for earth. The setting has such a gritty feel to it — it is probably my favourite depictions of how policing would work in a science fiction future. So many sci-fi books with police plots seem to have their characters be overwhelmed by the incredible technology of the future, and because of that you don’t get the procedural feel that I love in detective novels. Carlos does actual police work and is assisted by technology rather than relying on it — this aspect of the book made it feel so realistic.
Carlos is an incredibly interesting character for me, and he was a great narrator for the book. His character arc changes and develops as more is revealed about his past and the case impacts his future. I obviously don’t want to reveal too much, but his backstory and circumstances are particularly fascinating and are some of the best bits of the book for me.
After Atlas is a great companion novel to Planetfall and it shows how talented Newman is as an author. Although they’re both science fiction books, they are so completely different in terms of subgenre. I personal preference leans toward Planetfall, however After Atlas was a great read and made for an excellent audiobook. I’d highly recommend the series to anyone looking for a great, accessible science fiction read, and I cannot wait to get started on Before Mars!
Want to give After Atlas a try? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):