An attempt at a classic sci-fi yarn with an unfortunately undistinguished result.

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Conflicts of the Universe

EARTH AT WAR

From the Conflicts of the Universe series , Vol. 1

As aliens begin to invade Earth, the fate of the planet may rest in the hands of one man in Gomez’s debut sci-fi novel, the first in a series.

NASA officials notify the president of the United States when they notice two unidentified, white objects approaching Earth at unprecedented, curiously variable speeds. Meanwhile, U.S. Navy retiree Mark O’Brien, who currently lives a secluded lifestyle with his dog, Maverick, experiences a strange dream of an alien princess named Alaula, who warns him that the Quarantarions, a fierce warrior race, are headed toward Earth to conquer it. Her people are the Atlantins, who’ve suffered a great deal at the hands of the Quarantarions, and she tells him of a prophecy that he will one day lead earthlings and Atlantins against these horrifying enemies. Eventually, the Quarantarions do arrive and attack, and after facing personal tragedy, Mark joins with a small group of survivors, including a young woman named Kristin. The novel tracks their struggles to stay alive and fight back as Mark continues to have visions of Alaula offering help. Gomez does a good job of balancing the epic with the intimate, giving the alien invasion a sense of wide scope while also ensuring that Mark’s personal stakes are front and center. At the same time, however, there’s very little that sets this tale apart from thousands of others in the alien-invasion sci-fi subgenre. Furthermore, although a first-person, present-tense perspective can be used to great effect to enhance immediacy and suspense, here it makes the situations seem clunky and pedestrian; it also shines a light on the tale’s more familiar elements, which have been handled better elsewhere. The dialogue is also very stiff and unnatural, which undercuts the verisimilitude: “She throws an empty food can at Mark. Mark deflects the can with his hand and asks, ‘Why are you throwing the can at me?’ Kristin replies, ‘Because you are a jerk.’ Mark scratches his head and says, ‘Women can be crazy at times.’ ”

An attempt at a classic sci-fi yarn with an unfortunately undistinguished result.

Pub Date: July 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5308-0864-9

Page Count: 340

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2016

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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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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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