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TITAN'S TEARS

An often intriguing speculative tale about frightening technology and those who control it.

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Lester’s science fiction novel centers on the machinations of a powerful tech company.

In the near future, Belle is an aimless, unemployed 30-year-old woman living in an Alaskan village. When she receives a job offer from “the world’s premier tech company,” Eccleston Evolution, she’s quite surprised. Its founder, Sophia Eccleston, is a notoriously abrasive person in her 70s who, thanks to advances in technology, doesn’t look a day over 20. She wants Belle to work as a nanny for her sightless, 8-year-old daughter, Juno. Belle will live at the company’s secluded headquarters in Alaska. The site contains animals that were once extinct but were brought back to life with technology that uses DNA extracted from fossils (although none of them are dinosaurs, à la Michael Crichton’s 1990 thriller Jurassic Park). Meanwhile, an aggressive businessman, Lucas Ivanov, is planning a hostile takeover of Eccleston Evolution. In yet another plotline, a man named Seth Johnson, whose wife was cryogenically frozen by Eccleston prior to her death, is facing financial hardship as he struggles to pay Eccleston to keep his spouse alive. He starts to lose his grip, and he’s committed to a mental hospital before later embarking on a rescue mission. The early pages of Lester’s novel very effectively draw readers in; different aspects of the near-future world are revealed, and questions arise about Eccleston Evolution, which also has a hand in humanoid robotics technology. The plot thickens when it turns out that Juno may be much more than she seems. The book also has quite bit of business talk, however; the discussions surrounding the possible takeover of Eccleston aren’t particularly compelling, since readers have little reason to care about either Eccleston or Ivanov as characters. (Ivanov is notably described as someone who “buys what he can’t create.”) Still, the novel does have some surprises, particularly in the later pages, which feature disturbing discoveries.

An often intriguing speculative tale about frightening technology and those who control it.

Pub Date: June 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798989612109

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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PROPHET SONG

Captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.

As Ireland devolves into a brutal police state, one woman tries to preserve her family in this stark fable.

For Eilish Stack, a molecular biologist living with her husband and four children in Dublin, life changes all at once and then slowly worsens beyond imagining. Two men appear at her door one night, agents of the new secret police, seeking her husband, Larry, a union official. Soon he is detained under the Emergency Powers Act recently pushed through by the new ruling party, and she cannot contact him. Eilish sees things shifting at work to those backing the ruling party. The state takes control of the press, the judiciary. Her oldest son receives a summons to military duty for the regime, and she tries to send him to Northern Ireland. He elects to join the rebel forces and soon she cannot contact him, either. His name and address appear in a newspaper ad listing people dodging military service. Eilish is coping with her father’s growing dementia, her teenage daughter’s depression, the vandalizing of her car and house. Then war comes to Dublin as the rebel forces close in on the city. Offered a chance to flee the country by her sister in Canada, Eilish can’t abandon hope for her husband’s and son’s returns. Lynch makes every step of this near-future nightmare as plausible as it is horrific by tightly focusing on Eilish, a smart, concerned woman facing terrible choices and losses. An exceptionally gifted writer, Lynch brings a compelling lyricism to her fears and despair while he marshals the details marking the collapse of democracy and the norms of daily life. His tonal control, psychological acuity, empathy, and bleakness recall Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). And Eilish, his strong, resourceful, complete heroine, recalls the title character of Lynch’s excellent Irish-famine novel, Grace (2017).

Captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780802163011

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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