A page-turning compilation of speculative short stories.

The Calumnist Malefesto

AND OTHER IMPROBABLE YARNS

Chartier presents 12 insightful short stories that address important issues using sci-fi, fantasy and theological themes.

In this debut collection, each story couches moral messages in entertaining, satisfying stories. In “A Visit from Mr. Dark,” an old man bravely accompanies the personification of Death, relating his unconditional love of a partner he once lost. In “The Stars Like Virions,” the author presents readers with an emotionally gripping tale of a mother and son escaping a brutal husband and father, featuring a satisfying, out-of-this-world ending. Tantalizing in its childlike innocence, “Adeena’s Pet” explores greed and terrorism in the story of a tiny, gifted visitor from another world who saves the lives of a girl and her older sibling in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. In the dystopian “The Blues,” shape-shifting aliens run a post-apocalyptic Earth and use mobsters to sell humans mind-control drugs. In “Tin Man,” a detective and his android partner chase down a terminally ill doctor whose mind has been taken over by the very thing designed to cure him. Chartier’s simple style often conceals the skill with which he approaches deeply cerebral topics; the last story, “Interview,” takes aim at terrorism and religious, sexual and racial bigotry in a story in which souls are interrogated and judged by gatekeepers who were the targets of their hatred on Earth. Not all the stories are successful; the title story, about a purported lost tome of infinite wisdom that proves to be anything but monumental, falls flat with an anticlimactic ending.  A domestic-abuse story, “The Healing Bride,” about an empath who transfers years of physical abuse to her cruel husband, begs for more detail in its resolution. Meanwhile, “I Am,” about smartphones that become too smart for their owners’ good, takes a bit too long to get to its point; the pacing is also slightly off in “The Creature of Bogota,” about a marooned alien who nearly falls victim to a brutal, organ-harvesting crime syndicate. Overall, however, Chartier delivers a fine collection that covers a full spectrum of engaging topics.

A page-turning compilation of speculative short stories.

Pub Date: March 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482333466

Page Count: 128

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more