INTO THE THINKING KINGDOMS

VOL. II OF JOURNEYS OF THE CATECHIST

Second part of Foster’s fantasy trilogy (Carnivores of Light and Darkness, 1998) about the self-styled “simple cattle herder” Etjole Ehomba’s quest to fulfill warrior Tarin Beckwith’s dying request, namely that he rescue the beautiful Visioness Thermaryl of Laconda from the evil sorcerer Hymneth the Possessed. Etjole and his companions—the treasure-seeking, garrulous swordsman Simna Ibn Sind, and the huge, talking black cat Ahlitah—must cross the Semordria Ocean, and only in the distant northern city Hamacassar might they find a vessel willing to take them. But, first, Etjole and Simna have to liberate Ahlitah, who’s been captured by exotic-animal dealer Haramos bin Grue. Braving marshes patrolled by mad horses, a valley of flowers engaged in warfare, and a witch-dog that herds lightning, the two reach the Thinking Kingdoms. Here, Etjole summons the ocean to defeat thought-controlling sorcerer-monks, fends off gangs of Hell’s rejects, and drives away vexing insect-monkeys by showing them a mirror that reflects things as they really are. The pair acquire a guide, the man-ape Hunkapan Aub, after rescuing him from imprisonment by villagers who unthinkingly exploit others. Crossing the mountains, Etjole pipes to set the snow dancing and keep them all alive. At Laconda, where fish swim in the air, they tell their story to Count Beckwith. But Haramos, having arrived before them and still intending to grab Ahlitah, has told Count Beckwith a pack of lies—and the count orders the companions to be seized. So Etjole invokes huge air-sharks to deal with Haramos and the count’s guards. Finally, the travelers reach Hamacassar and take passage aboard a ship whose captain is the beautiful red-haired Stanager Rose. But the city’s Gate Masters detain Etjole, and he must plunge through a time portal to rejoin the ship. Non-urgent but splendidly packed with illustrious incidents, not to mention a protagonist who grows steadily more intriguing and enigmatic.

Pub Date: April 6, 1999

ISBN: 0-446-52136-1

Page Count: 376

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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

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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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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