A satisfying wrap-up for series fans.

THE UNINCORPORATED FUTURE

Space battles, politics, religion and revolution: final entry in the series following The Unincorporated Woman (2011, etc.).

The premise: On a future Earth and a terraformed Mars—the United Human Federation—people are incorporated, that is, their personal worth is determined by stocks that can be bought and sold by others. They also, secretly, practice mind control. Justin Cord, having put himself into cryogenic suspension to avoid a mortal disease, was thawed out and cured, only to discover he alone was unincorporated. Regarding the whole incorporation system as slavery, and desiring personal freedom, he founded the Outer Alliance, comprising most of the colonies from the asteroid belt outwards. Inevitably, the two sides declared war. Cord was assassinated, but now the freedom fighters continue their struggle under President Sandra O’Toole and their brilliant general, J.D. Black, who continues to win victories and avoid defeat despite the massive odds against her. However, the UHF president, Hektor Sambianco, would rather wipe out the entire Alliance than allow them to secede, and with their huge advantage in manpower and ships commanded by Adm. Samuel Trang (he’s almost as good as J.D. Black), he seems capable of doing so. Problem is, if the Alliance turns as ruthless as their opponents, the human race itself might not survive. And there are complications caused by artificial intelligence avatars who inhabit cyberspace and have an agenda of their own. The Kollin brothers add little that’s innovative to this hoary scenario. Some readers might find an annoying emphasis on religion. And they have little idea of how their science fiction-y toys actually work. Still, the politics and battles are well-handled, with notable emphasis on strongly developed female characters.

A satisfying wrap-up for series fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2881-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...

DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

READY PLAYER ONE

Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. 

The real world, in 2045, is the usual dystopian horror story. So who can blame Wade, our narrator, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world? The 18-year-old, orphaned at 11, has no friends in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City, while the OASIS has captivating bells and whistles, and it’s free. Its creator, the legendary billionaire James Halliday, left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The finder would inherit his estate. Old-fashioned riddles lead to three keys and three gates. Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Halliday was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980s, primarily the arcade games, so the novel is as much retro as futurist. Parzival’s great strength is that he has absorbed all Halliday’s obsessions; he knows by heart three essential movies, crossing the line from geek to freak. His most formidable competitors are the Sixers, contract gunters working for the evil conglomerate IOI, whose goal is to acquire the OASIS. Cline’s narrative is straightforward but loaded with exposition. It takes a while to reach a scene that crackles with excitement: the meeting between Parzival (now world famous as the lead contender) and Sorrento, the head of IOI. The latter tries to recruit Parzival; when he fails, he issues and executes a death threat. Wade’s trailer is demolished, his relatives killed; luckily Wade was not at home. Too bad this is the dramatic high point. Parzival threads his way between more ’80s games and movies to gain the other keys; it’s clever but not exciting. Even a romance with another avatar and the ultimate “epic throwdown” fail to stir the blood.

Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-88743-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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