Martin’s varied literary structure and assimilation of human emotions, fused with a fast-paced, imaginative storyline and...

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N-SPACE

STORIES, POEMS, AND MUSIC OF THE FUTURE

In Martin’s collection of science-fiction stories, Lt. Jana Maines steers merchant ships of the Space Trading Commission through the fourth dimension, known as n-Space.

When Maines spots a three centuries’ old derelict—a forgotten spaceship—in deep space, she convinces her captain to give approval for an exploration mission. Good looks aside, Maines’ charisma and unyielding fortitude are a byproduct of her desire to financially assist her family on the farming planet of Ceres. In most cases, Maines’ obdurate nature lands her in precarious situations, but her self-confidence never wavers. A strong-willed female protagonist coupled with a realistic, developed portrayal of the fourth dimension is one of Martin’s strengths, and his intriguing storyline, illustrations and innate ability to make foreign objects and places seem familiar accentuate the quality of his work. Integrating short stories, poetry and songs into Maines’ odyssey, Martin provides insight into the lieutenant’s purpose behind each mission, her life on Ceres with her family and her domineering father. Though a work of science fiction, Martin’s focus transcends spaceships and deep-space transports; he explores the relationship between the lieutenant and her daunting, sometimes overbearing captains (who bear a strong resemblance to Maines’ father), religious philosophy on the planet of Tachon and a light romance on Oceanus. However, Maines’ attachment to her family and the pangs of loneliness permeate every story. Whether Maines is standing beside a dying woman on an ancient derelict in deep space, battling with a prophet who claims himself as God or trying to save millions of fish eggs crucial for the survival of a planet, Martin connects her exploits to her family. Amid the various side stories, readers may find it easy to skim over Martin’s invented words and numerous technical and physics references to explain n-Space. To compensate, the author includes an in-depth glossary and notes at the end to enhance understanding of n-Space. While Maines’ internal dialogue becomes excessive at points, this is a minor point considering the myriad positives the book offers.

Martin’s varied literary structure and assimilation of human emotions, fused with a fast-paced, imaginative storyline and realistic science fiction will leave audiences marveling over Maines’ adventures in n-Space.

Pub Date: April 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1450260893

Page Count: 521

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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

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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Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

THE TESTAMENTS

Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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