Nefarious bigwigs, collusion, and galactic jumps against a cosmic backdrop; readers should definitely want to come back for...

Casimir Bridge

From the Anghazi Series series , Vol. 1

Interstellar travel is possible in the early 22nd century thanks to a much-desired element that one company controls and others will go to great lengths to take in this debut sci-fi adventure.

TV production assistant Mandisa “Mandi” Nkosi may have a story for her network, courtesy of an anonymous source. Someone’s contacted her with pertinent information about uranium (surrounding a terror plot). Mandi meets Anonymous, who tells of a possible conspiracy that includes the idea that the uranium didn’t originate on Earth but rather Eridani. That planet is where Applied Interstellar Corporation is establishing its headquarters. AIC first discovered hyperium on Saturn’s moon, Hyperion. The element is capable of opening wormholes for traversing star systems. CEO Jans Mikel’s moved AIC to Eridani to put distance between the company and Earth’s Euramerican Coalition government, which wants its shady hands on hyperium. In the last year, five of AIC’s ships have inexplicably vanished, but an emergency jump pod from the most recent vessel suggests a deliberate attack. Back on Earth, someone, it seems, tries to kill Mandi, likely wanting the data chip from her source. She’s saved by Grae Raymus of AIC Security and tags along on the return flight to Eridani, where trouble’s brewing. A sinister group may be targeting Helios, a moon richer in hyperium than Hyperion and which Jans has been keeping secret. Beyer opens his series with a punch, establishing his prospective universe while simultaneously delivering sci-fi action. A chase sequence on Earth and an explosive confrontation on Eridani are exhilarating, but dirty politicking of the future proves most engrossing, particularly Coalition Assemblyman/former Tech Standard Incorporated CEO Gregory Andrews. He’s clearly manipulating the Euramerican president like a puppet, while his suggestion of an ACI-TSI merger may be legitimate. Copious subplots are left unresolved, not the least of which is Mandi’s parents: a father who’s a mystery to her and mom Gisela, who abandoned her as a child but whom everyone, even Grae, apparently knows. There is, however, an unmistakable antagonist threatening Jans and AIC by the end, as well as a big reveal that demands a sequel.

Nefarious bigwigs, collusion, and galactic jumps against a cosmic backdrop; readers should definitely want to come back for more.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5301-6408-0

Page Count: 366

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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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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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