Much of the best science fiction today is coming from East Asia, and Kim’s work ranks high in that emerging tradition.

I'M WAITING FOR YOU

AND OTHER STORIES

In four paired short stories, Korean science-fiction doyenne Kim imagines the vanishingly distant future.

“You interstellar marrying types are all traitors.” So says a colleague to a 25-year-old copy editor who is heading into the faraway stars. The round trip voyage should take just 4.5 years, since by this time earthlings have mastered travel at the speed of light. When the trip is over, a wedding awaits back on Earth. In a series of letters, the traveler describes life in a featureless cosmos, the spaceship moving too fast to take in any sights—or to stick to its schedule, so that just a couple of months into the voyage, the years as measured by Earth time have almost tripled. You can always wait another 11 years and then hop a freighter, the unconcerned captain tells another traveler, but it wouldn’t be a happy return: “That Earth eleven years from now isn’t a place where anyone would want to live. That it’ll be uninhabitable, even for people who have been there all their lives, let alone those returning from years on other planets.” The copy editor’s betrothed, in a bracketing story, is on a mission of her own to faraway Alpha Centauri, and when she gets back, civil war, nuclear disaster, and climate change have ruined the planet. As for her beloved, “He must have died a million years ago.” No matter, for, as the pair of stories nested between them inform us, in the future we shall be as gods, if perhaps not entirely self-aware: “Just as you can’t understand your past self,” Kim writes, “someday your future self won’t understand your present self.” Playing with notions of immortality and toying with improbable transgressions of the laws of physics, Kim delivers a suite of stories that is at once lyrical and full of foreboding, keeping dramatic tension tight among poetic evocations of a home planet that is “our hall of learning, our cradle of experiences, our short-term interactive training ground,” if one we have also destroyed.

Much of the best science fiction today is coming from East Asia, and Kim’s work ranks high in that emerging tradition.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-295146-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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