Worldbuilding at its richest.

TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING

The first of a two-book series concerning a future Earth society patterned after the principles of the Enlightenment.

In 2454, nations are no longer tied to geography; instead, people ally themselves to Hives, according to their philosophical and intellectual inclinations. Discussion of gender and gender roles is essentially taboo, and organized religion is extinct. Instead, everyone is allotted a sensayer to discuss all of one’s spiritual concerns. In a world where there is no collective belief in God, what does it mean when a child appears who can do miracles? This is only one strand of the complexly webbed plot of this debut novel, written by a historian who has clearly brought all her knowledge and research to bear upon her fiction. Other strands include the corruption and decadence of the Hive leaders, who are supposed to represent separate points of view but are tied together via blood, sex, death, and secrets in ways the public doesn't realize. Then there is the theft of an influential list that affects the political ranking of those leaders. And then there is the dark, bloody history of the novel’s narrator, the once-brutal mass murderer Mycroft Canner, who most people believe is dead but who is actually essentially enslaved to the political elite, which makes exhaustive use of his brilliant linguistic, analytic, and strategic skills. Was Canner insane, or did he have a hidden motive for his crimes? How did this savage torturer seemingly lose his impulse to kill? Alas, the reader will apparently have to wait until Volume 2 to receive most of these answers, but the questions raised are at once thought-provoking, disturbing, occasionally perverted, and always entertaining.

Worldbuilding at its richest.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7800-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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