Dune lite—but for all that, a rare, rattling page-turner that no Dune adherent will pass up.

SANDWORMS OF DUNE

Final installment—chronologically, anyway—in the Dune series (Hunters of Dune, 2006, etc.) begun by the late Frank Herbert in 1965 and continued by his son, Brian, and collaborator Anderson.

Thousands of years in the future, the Great Enemy that threatens humanity’s survival has been revealed as Omnius, a megalomaniacal intelligent machine that survived the Butlerian Jihad, and his independent-minded sidekick Erasmus. Vengeful Omnius commands hordes of be-weaponed thinking machines and spaceships; Erasmus has consumed thousands of human personal histories in an attempt to understand the human species. The pair have created millions of undetectable Face Dancers (they can mimic any human shape) and placed them in key positions in the Spacing Guild administration, the factories of machine planet Ix and even the Sisterhood—heir to the old Atreides empire—led by Mother Commander Murbella. They have also cloned the evil Baron Harkonnen and the baron’s old foe, Paul Atreides, whom the baron has worked assiduously to corrupt. Other than the beleaguered Sisterhood, the machines are opposed by Norma Cenva, the godlike Oracle, inspiration to the traditional spice-addicted Guild Navigators, and a spaceship containing clones of famous figures from the past, including Duncan Idaho, Paul Atreides, Leto II and the Bashar Miles Teg. Everybody agrees that events are shaping up for Kralizec, the long-foretold battle at the end of time. In true Herbertian fashion, everybody has a secret agenda; everyone dreams of defeating all opposition; and each side plots to create and control an omniscient superbeing known as the Kwisatz Haderach. Let Kralizec commence. The boys do a great job in investing the plot with heft and complexity and the narrative with pace and momentum, and conveying the sheer ferocity of the betrayals and duplicities. Less felicitous are the bland characters, whose extraordinary abilities rarely come across with much conviction.

Dune lite—but for all that, a rare, rattling page-turner that no Dune adherent will pass up.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7653-1293-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

A somewhat fragmentary nocturnal shadows Jim Nightshade and his friend Will Halloway, born just before and just after midnight on the 31st of October, as they walk the thin line between real and imaginary worlds. A carnival (evil) comes to town with its calliope, merry-go-round and mirror maze, and in its distortion, the funeral march is played backwards, their teacher's nephew seems to assume the identity of the carnival's Mr. Cooger. The Illustrated Man (an earlier Bradbury title) doubles as Mr. Dark. comes for the boys and Jim almost does; and there are other spectres in this freakshow of the mind, The Witch, The Dwarf, etc., before faith casts out all these fears which the carnival has exploited... The allusions (the October country, the autumn people, etc.) as well as the concerns of previous books will be familiar to Bradbury's readers as once again this conjurer limns a haunted landscape in an allegory of good and evil. Definitely for all admirers.

Pub Date: June 15, 1962

ISBN: 0380977273

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1962

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