A flawed but intriguing thriller with plenty of terrifying weather catastrophes and an admirable commitment to scientific...

Tumble

A debut novel kicks off a multipart saga about worldwide natural disasters.

Triggs opens his story with a bittersweet evocation of the 2004 Thailand tsunami, as a widower returns to the country for the 15-year anniversary of the event that killed his family. But something far worse is approaching. Sudden earthquakes ripple across the globe, and satellites reveal the emergence of a new landmass in the Indian Ocean. This geological phenomenon is dubbed the Andaman Event. Six months later, strange weather emerges around the world: a frozen hurricane sinks a fishing fleet, a tornado rips apart homes in Australia, and a gigantic sandstorm pummels the Western Sahara. To make matters worse, Infinity, the satellite company in Palo Alto, California, responsible for virtually all weather forecasts, experiences service outages, leaving most nations blind to impending disasters. Brad Bentley and Steve Jaeger, Infinity’s founders, search for the outages’ cause, eventually suspecting that a computer virus may be shutting down some of their satellites. But they slowly realize that the glitches may reflect a global “tumble” triggered by the Andaman Event. The book covers broad ground over 43 chapters, sometimes focusing on the investigation and sometimes following people fleeing for their lives, such as an archaeologist in a Land Rover in the Western Sahara during the monster sandstorm. Too much time is spent on Brad and Steve looking for a virus, and some characters’ roles are unclear—a few chapters examine apartment dwellers in Queens, for example, but these sections don’t tie into much else. Yet some discursions, such as a chapter about a doomed Russian ship, are well-written portraits of desperation and ratchet up the novel’s tension. Characterization remains a weak point. Most individuals are either “types” or not developed beyond their high intelligence and affability. The geological and meteorological processes described have clearly been meticulously researched. While technical explanations occasionally become tedious, many readers should enjoy a natural disaster narrative that embraces scientific inquiry over Hollywood gimmicks. Triggs ends on a high note; readers will likely look forward to the second installment, which will hopefully have a tighter plot construction and more layered characterization.

A flawed but intriguing thriller with plenty of terrifying weather catastrophes and an admirable commitment to scientific exploration.

Pub Date: June 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9507-1

Page Count: 494

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

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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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Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

READY PLAYER ONE

Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. 

The real world, in 2045, is the usual dystopian horror story. So who can blame Wade, our narrator, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world? The 18-year-old, orphaned at 11, has no friends in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City, while the OASIS has captivating bells and whistles, and it’s free. Its creator, the legendary billionaire James Halliday, left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The finder would inherit his estate. Old-fashioned riddles lead to three keys and three gates. Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Halliday was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980s, primarily the arcade games, so the novel is as much retro as futurist. Parzival’s great strength is that he has absorbed all Halliday’s obsessions; he knows by heart three essential movies, crossing the line from geek to freak. His most formidable competitors are the Sixers, contract gunters working for the evil conglomerate IOI, whose goal is to acquire the OASIS. Cline’s narrative is straightforward but loaded with exposition. It takes a while to reach a scene that crackles with excitement: the meeting between Parzival (now world famous as the lead contender) and Sorrento, the head of IOI. The latter tries to recruit Parzival; when he fails, he issues and executes a death threat. Wade’s trailer is demolished, his relatives killed; luckily Wade was not at home. Too bad this is the dramatic high point. Parzival threads his way between more ’80s games and movies to gain the other keys; it’s clever but not exciting. Even a romance with another avatar and the ultimate “epic throwdown” fail to stir the blood.

Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-88743-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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