A brisk SF novel with a richly described setting that should be able to sustain a series.


Weisbeck’s speculative series starter introduces a divided future world ravaged by a pandemic.

Mercy Perching is a leading scientist in the Sanctuary of Europe, studying the FossilFlu, a disease that’s wiped out much of the planet’s population. At Europe’s Council of Leaders, she’s surprised to find Europe isn’t the only Sanctuary; there’s also the Sanctuary of Asia and the Sanctuary of Americas. In the latter, scientists have encountered a mutation of the FossilFlu that’s dangerous to both humans and animals. Mercy is sent to work with their scientists on a cure. Once there, she finds a completely different world where science has solved many problems that Europe has yet to conquer. The Americas have built a shield to protect them from the harsh environment; and unlike Europe, they have live vegetation—and their people can go outside. They also have human/animal hybrids called Chimera and a tense political debate about how the hybrids fit into society—a rift their leader, the Prime, says she’s trying to heal. Mercy becomes involved with Chase, a fellow scientist and dog/human hybrid, and finds that the mutations have political origins. This puts her, her research, and her new relationship with Chase in the middle of a burgeoning civil war, which kicks off the rest of the series. In this first book, Weisbeck has created a colorful future and populated it with a variety of distinct creatures, and she ably expands and deepens the worldbuilding as the book goes on. Indeed, the vivid atmosphere is the book’s greatest asset and should please SF fans; it also gives Weisbeck a solid foundation for future installments. There are a few minor flaws, including plot elements that could have been better fleshed out; for instance, Sen. Arjun is an avatar of the Purists, an anti-Chimera political group, who’s apparently meant to be a foil for the Prime, but so little time is devoted to him and his group that they feel like afterthoughts. The story zips along, but there’s occasionally clumsy prose, as when a whale is said to move with “brevity.”

A brisk SF novel with a richly described setting that should be able to sustain a series.

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5272-6150-1

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

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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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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


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. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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