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TRANSLATION STATE

Another of Leckie’s beautiful mergings of the political, philosophical, and personal.

A seemingly pointless quest ignites a political firestorm in this space opera follow-up to the Imperial Radch trilogy and Provenance (2017).

Enae Athtur (whose pronouns are sie/hir) is forced from hir childhood home and hir comfort zone to take a job for the Saeniss Polity’s Office of Diplomacy that’s intended as a sinecure: searching for traces of a fugitive Presger Translator who disappeared 200 years ago. Meanwhile, despite having been raised by kindly foster parents, Reet Hluid has never quite fit in anywhere. Ignorant of his origins, trapped in a dead-end job, friendless, and tormented by strangely compelling daydreams of vivisecting the people he meets, he thinks he’s finally found community with the Siblings of Hikipu. On what appears to be very little evidence, they claim that Reet is a Schan, a scion of their long-vanished royal line, and welcome him to their fellowship, which celebrates their cultural heritage…and perhaps dabbles in a little terrorism. And Qven, brought up in the innocently violent nursery of the Presger Translators, fears losing themself in the transition to adulthood, which involves a physical and mental merging with another person; their attempt to escape that apparent inevitability leads to Qven’s permanent disgrace. When Enae does what no one expects—actually finding the trail of the lost Translator—it upends the lives of Enae, Reet, and Qven and threatens the treaty that protects humanity from the Presger, an impossibly powerful and enigmatic alien race. It all sounds very complicated—and it is, enjoyably so—but basically, this is yet another opportunity for Leckie to explore her favorite themes: the meaning of family, humanity, and the right to one’s personhood. Although the novel is mostly set outside the Radch Empire, the events of that trilogy and of Provenance have a profound effect on the action here, and they also share some characters. This work also addresses many questions from the previous books about the peculiar behavior of Translators, whose originally human DNA has been substantially reengineered by the Presger.

Another of Leckie’s beautiful mergings of the political, philosophical, and personal.

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9780316289719

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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DEVOLUTION

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

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE MINISTRY OF TIME

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

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A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.

In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today.

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781668045145

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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