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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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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