A tale with enough horror to carry the story but not enough to keep readers awake at night.

LIVED

Invading life forms come from deep within the Earth, not from outer space, in Nash’s debut novella.

A real geological phenomenon known as the Taos Hum helped to inspire this tale that blends sci-fi and horror. Creatures within the Earth come out of dormancy and prey on humans when the Hum stops. (The book doesn’t fully explain that sound, but curious readers may look it up online or elsewhere.) The on-and-off cycle for the Hum spans millennia, and no human remembers the creatures' last awakening. Clues of it remain in ancient art and mythology, and an understanding of it comes only to Gabe Peppard, an archaeology professor fascinated by the implications of the clues and disturbed by his lucid, terrifying dreams. Nash interweaves Gabe’s story with that of Don Marseilles of Valdez, N.M., the unlucky sheriff in the region in which the creatures emerge. The first hint of trouble comes when people start disappearing, beginning with little Emily’s mother. Emily witnesses the abduction but goes mute from shock and can’t help investigators. Eventually, she provides drawings of what she saw and, along with a second witness who lacks credibility, steers the sheriff toward the right course. Josh, the sheriff’s young-adult son, brings his father and Gabe together after finding the professor online and persuading him to contribute his knowledge. As they try to keep more people from disappearing and terror from spreading among local residents, the investigators face two big hurdles: accepting what the evidence points to and their ignorance of how to deal with it. This novella reads like a long synopsis of a good story idea, heavy on businesslike writing and extraneous descriptions along the lines of “he played a computer game for about an hour...watched a couple of You Tube videos that were the top ten for the day. He checked his e-mail.” The book lacks emotional intensity and fully developed, sci-fi creatures. Instead, readers must work to imagine the nightmare of being attacked by surprise and stored alive as food for the creatures’ larvae when they hatch.

A tale with enough horror to carry the story but not enough to keep readers awake at night.

Pub Date: July 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475263893

Page Count: 116

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2012

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

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PROJECT HAIL MARY

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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