Liu’s trilogy is the first major work of science fiction to come to the West out of China, and it’s a masterpiece.

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DEATH'S END

What if alien civilizations do exist? In this final installment of a stunning and provocative trilogy (The Dark Forest, 2015, etc.), Liu teases out the grim, unsettling implications.

Previously, astronomer-turned-sociologist Luo Ji forestalled an invasion attempt by advanced aliens from planet Trisolaris. Luo’s “dark forest” deterrence works thus: if intelligent species exist, inevitably some will be hostile; therefore, safety lies in remaining hidden while threatening to reveal your enemy’s location to the predators. Earth knows where Trisolaris is, but the Trisolarans can’t threaten to reveal Earth’s location since they want to occupy it. Here, the story picks up at an earlier juncture. Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer developing a probe to study the approaching Trisolaran fleet, learns that a friend has been tricked into volunteering to die in order to assist the project. Horrified, she retreats into hibernation. When she revives centuries later, dark forest deterrence holds the Trisolarans at bay. Luo, now old, hands Cheng the key to Earth’s defense. Unfortunately, the sophons—tiny, intelligent, light-speed computers sent by the Trisolarans as spies—know Cheng lacks Luo’s ruthlessness and immediately seize control of Earth; only by luck does Earth manage to trigger its deterrent. Hostile aliens immediately destroy planet Trisolaris, whose invasion fleet turns away because it’s only a matter of time before the same invisible antagonists deduce the existence of Earth and strike the solar system. Once again, Cheng must choose between logical ruthlessness and simple human compassion, with the fate of humanity at stake. This utterly absorbing book shows little interest in linear narrative or conventional character interactions. Instead, the author offers dilemmas moral, philosophical, and political; perspectives—a spectacular glimpse of three dimensions seen from a four-dimensional viewpoint; a dying universe shattered by billions of years of warfare; and persuasive ideas whose dismal repercussions extend beyond hope and despair into, inescapably, real-world significance.

Liu’s trilogy is the first major work of science fiction to come to the West out of China, and it’s a masterpiece.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7710-4

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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