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

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

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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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