A terrifying glimpse at a believable future.

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The Theta Prophecy

Dietzel (The Last Teacher, 2015, etc.) offers a chilling sci-fi novel about big government run amok in the future.

The Tyranny rules at the will of the rich and powerful, keeping the middle class and poor in line with AeroCam surveillance drones and black-suited thugs. The powers that be get away with everything as powerless people are jailed or murdered for the slightest infractions. A secret society of dissenters known as the Thinkers decides to take action, sending 10 men back in time in hopes of changing the timeline so that the Tyranny doesn’t come to be. Why? Time traveler Daniel explains: “How many friends had he watched get dragged away by the Tyranny to be found the next day with a blaster hole in the back of their head?...How could he allow his son to grow up in such a world?” One traveler goes too far into the past, though, and ends up burying a book for future generations to uncover—one that eventually finds its way to Thomas Jefferson, who rails against the possibility of such a tyrannical government. Another traveler seeks to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who’s seen as a reformer by the ruling class. At first, Dietzel’s dystopian America might seem a bit far-fetched. However, the novel’s characters are quite plausible—all cogs in a machine not of their own making and all afraid to get out of lockstep. As even the Ruler himself explains, “if I had one of our men punished for killing a kid or some broad? Can you imagine what the leaders would say about me? They’d claim I was against the Tyranny!” Perhaps to set up another book in the series, Dietzel frustratingly leaves the novel open-ended, offering no closure, which readers may find to be a disappointing end to a thought-provoking volume.

A terrifying glimpse at a believable future.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5151-4687-2

Page Count: 265

Publisher: Watch the World End Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

THE BOOK OF KOLI

The first volume in Carey’s Rampart trilogy is set centuries into a future shaped by war and climate change, where the scant remains of humankind are threatened by genetically modified trees and plants.

Teenager Koli Woodsmith lives in Mythen Rood, a village of about 200 people in a place called Ingland, which has other names such as “Briton and Albion and Yewkay.” He was raised to cultivate, and kill, the wood from the dangerous trees beyond Mythen Rood’s protective walls. Mythen Rood is governed by the Ramparts (made up entirely of members of one family—what a coincidence), who protect the village with ancient, solar-powered tech. After the Waiting, a time in which each child, upon turning 15, must decide their future, Koli takes the Rampart test: He must “awaken” a piece of old tech. After he inevitably fails, he steals a music player which houses a charming “manic pixie dream girl” AI named Monono, who reveals a universe of knowledge. Of course, a little bit of knowledge can threaten entire societies or, in Koli’s case, a village held in thrall to a family with unfettered access to powerful weapons. Koli attempts to use the device to become a Rampart, he becomes their greatest threat, and he’s exiled to the world beyond Mythen Rood. Luckily, the pragmatic Koli has his wits, Monono, and an ally in Ursala, a traveling doctor who strives to usher in a healthy new generation of babies before humanity dies out for good. Koli will need all the help he can get, especially when he’s captured by a fearsome group ruled by a mad messianic figure who claims to have psychic abilities. Narrator Koli’s inquisitive mind and kind heart make him the perfect guide to Carey’s (Someone Like Me, 2018, etc.) immersive, impeccably rendered world, and his speech and way of life are different enough to imagine the weight of what was lost but still achingly familiar, and as always, Carey leavens his often bleak scenarios with empathy and hope. Readers will be thrilled to know the next two books will be published in short order.

A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-47753-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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