THE RAPTURE OF THE NERDS

Fun, but one might expect more from these two.

Obviously, the title must be understood in two senses: How rapturous is it that two titanic figures of geek culture collaborated for this trippy, technobabble-laden tale of the Singularity (aka the technological Rapture)?

Billions of humans have abandoned their meat bodies and uploaded themselves into the cloud surrounding the Earth, where they engage in esoteric amusements, spamming the incarnated with bizarre inventions and concocting Byzantine political schemes. Their pawn is Huw Jones, a cranky, neo-Luddite Welsh potter whose larynx, accustomed to the complex glottals of his native tongue, is ideally suited to host the sophisticated communications array of their ambassador. The ascended humans’ machinations convey Huw to a Libyan courtroom run by an insanely dictatorial judge; a Charleston, S.C., inhabited by fundamentalists, an underground cult of kinky hedonists and an invading Hypercolony of cyborg ants; and finally the cloud itself, where the continued existence of humanity…depends on Huw’s reconciliation with his estranged parents. The novel offers a technologically updated, if less emotionally resonant, discussion of the digital mind/body conundrums explored by William Gibson and Charles Platt 20 years ago, and Tony Daniel 10 years ago. Even though Earth’s fate hinges on Huw's relationships, they don’t have much depth to them—which may be intentional. In particular, Huw’s alleged love for the transhuman, Bonnie, never truly comes into focus; the authors are far more adept at illustrating Huw’s incredible self-involvedness and immaturity. Although this book is clearly meant to be broadly humorous, a little less petulance from the protagonist would have made this absurdist sci-fi quest a more absorbing read.

Fun, but one might expect more from these two.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2910-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • 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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 60


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 60


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Close Quickview