Well-written, with a unique cosmic and spiritual dimension.

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COSMIC SWAN

A geologist investigating strange tectonic phenomena discovers a mind-blowing secret under a mountain

in Tibet. For unknown reasons, the planet has been plagued by a seemingly unending string of earthquakes. To get a better handle on what’s going on, his superiors at the U.S. Geological Survey send geologist Mark Joff to Mount Kailas in Tibet, where the Indian subcontinent meets the Asian landmass, the apparent epicenter of the strange seismic activity. There the locals inform him that they have met a cult of otherworldly bluish people meditating in a cave opened up by the earthquakes. The cultists claim that the earthquakes are not caused by a rising magma plug (the leading scientific theory), but by the emergence of a Great Being, an enormous creature hatching from beneath the Earth’s crust after gestating underground for millennia. When the cultists show him the creature’s eye, Joff’s scientific skepticism rapidly gives way to concern for what the world’s governments might do when faced with the prospect of an enormous creature bursting through Earth’s surface, likely taking a large chunk of China with it. Meanwhile, a comet recently discovered by a pair of young astronomers shows signs of sentience as it hurtles toward Earth. In fact, it seems to be communicating with the Great Being emerging in Tibet. Joff joins with his new Tibetan friends to save the Great Being while he and other earthlings must decide whether to mend a broken planet or forge a new path. Copeland’s plot is well paced, with action that builds as the climax approaches. The characters are likable and ably fleshed out, and the overall conceit, if outlandish, is interesting. The author’s prose is fairly tight, but drifts somewhat when characters engage in quasi-scientific planetary speculation.

Well-written, with a unique cosmic and spiritual dimension.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4415-5601-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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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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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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