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…
Planetfall wasn't exactly a cheerful book, so I picked up After Atlas because I was in the mood for a depressing read. Boy, did it deliver in that regard! Set on a dystopian Earth forty years after the colony ship in Planetfall left, After Atlas follows a detective assigned to a murder case. Carlos the detective, also the first person narrator, is owned and enslaved by the Ministry of Justice and contractually forbidden from revealing that fact. Because of the NDA included in his contract, most free people don't believe slaves like him exist, which makes for some interesting social interplays (and bitterness).
A large part of After Atlas is a murder mystery, with the victim the leader of a cult Carlos escaped when he was sixteen. The cult insist on having Carlos be the investigator and, of course, the situation brings up a lot of difficult memories for him which also serve to fill in the reader on his backstory. The story of the cult and of Carlos's connection to the departed spaceship end up being key components of the story, along with the murder itself.
Newman paints a pretty bleak picture of humanity in this series and especially in this book. Honestly, I was surprised at how bleak some parts were and I recognise that's not for everyone. But I really enjoyed the book and the story and the issues it raised. I will definitely read any more books that come out in this series, although I'm not sure more are planned. I recommend After Atlas to fans of dark SF (I wouldn't call it horror, though) and to anyone who enjoyed Planetfall, although it's a pretty different read in many respects. I've enjoyed all of Newman's books that I've read, but I should warn you that if you've only read the Split Worlds series, this series is very different, so be warned.
5 / 5 stars
First published: November 2016,
Series: Planetfall series, book 2 of 2 so far (but both stand alone)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley