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BROKEN MIRROR

A fantastic SF thriller with a sincere and important message.

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In Sisco’s speculative novel, a young man who wants to find his grandfather’s killer is deemed a threat due to his mental illness.

Several years ago, in an alternate history set in the “American Union of Nations,” a man with a mental illness known as Mirror Resonance Syndrome (MRS) killed people in an act of chaos and extreme violence in the town of Carmichael. In the incident’s aftermath came the Carmichael edicts, which have since subjugated those with MRS (sufferers are hyper-emotional and prone to daydreaming and periods of mental blankness) to being treated as less than human, looked at with suspicion, and forced to live on “ranches” they can never leave. Despite being part of the famous Eastmore family (his grandfather, Jefferson Eastmore, cured cancer), Victor has effectively had his life stolen from him due to his MRS diagnosis. Jefferson died recently, and Victor believes he was murdered—maybe even assassinated—and he wants to find who was responsible. Victor’s mental illness may be the key to the mystery; his friend Ozie tells him that Jefferson was trying to challenge the status quo for the treatment of those with MRS (he wanted to find a cure), a position that’s widely considered radical and may have made him some enemies. The country is also beset by the rise of addiction to drugs known as stims, which have had serious, ongoing consequences for people like Victor’s friend Elena (“She could tell him about the flood of stims the Corps had unleashed to hook as many people as possible”) and, by extension, Victor himself. Sisco has created an immersive cyberpunk world as the setting for an elaborate murder mystery and conspiracy thriller; the copious amount of worldbuilding detail is truly impressive. Victor is a relatable hero with eclectic friends in Ozie and Elena (as well as an herbalist, Pearl, who aids him in dealing with the symptoms of his condition). The world and the characters work together to effectively form a cohesive story about how easy it is for society to classify a group of people as dangerous outsiders.

A fantastic SF thriller with a sincere and important message.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781953954077

Page Count: 402

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2024

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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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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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PROJECT HAIL MARY

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

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Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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