Thrills and spills and sheer excitement on full-throttle overdrive. Just pay no attention to the wobbling scenery.


Second part of the science-fiction/thriller duology following Superposition (April 2015).

Some 15 years after the events of the previous book, its hero, physicist-turned-teacher Jacob Kelley, is placidly watching a baseball game when a terrifying, irresistible force destroys the entire ballpark. Terrorists are blamed. Kelley’s daughter, Sandra, a police officer and one of the first responders, finds his body. Later that evening, Sandra gets a phone call. From her dad. Meanwhile, neurotic genius physicist Ryan Oronzi has developed the breakthrough Higgs projector technology into military-grade weaponry—including invisibility, teleportation, and the manipulation of objects at a distance—using the power contained in a bubble universe. Problem is, inside the bubble lurks the incomprehensible and hostile creature, the “varcolac,” that caused all the trouble last time around. Fearing that it will soon break free, Ryan tries to cancel a demo which physicist/defense contractor employee Alex Kelley will attend. (Alex and Sandra were once the singular Alessandra but split into two probability waves during the previous adventure.) Sure enough, the varcolac escapes, and, during the ensuing battle, Alex shoots dead a government bigwig whose body the varcolac had absorbed. Sure that she’ll be accused of murder, she flees and soon meets up with Ryan, who’s figured out that she knows more than she’s telling. Evidently they’ll all need help from the villainous mastermind of the last piece, Jean Massey, and they prepare to spring her from jail. It would be unjust to aver that the plot doesn’t add up when in fact it’s incapable of any mathematical operation whatsoever, and stereotypes would be an improvement on Higgs projector–packing characters who battle evil (and each other) like manic Green Lanterns.

Thrills and spills and sheer excitement on full-throttle overdrive. Just pay no attention to the wobbling scenery.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63388-098-6

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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...


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.


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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