A passable setup, with absorbing, fairly low-key complications and agreeable character development: an auspicious series...


From the versatile author of military-SF yarns and, most recently, The Speed of Dark (Jan. 2003), the kickoff to a new spacefaring/coming-of-age saga.

Drummed out of planet Slotter Key’s space academy for helping a colleague who then betrayed her, Kylara Vatta returns home to face her father. Rather surprisingly, Gerard, CFO of the huge and powerful spacegoing Vatta Transport, gives Ky the captaincy of a ship. There are, of course, drawbacks: the ship is creaky and superannuated, destined to be sold for scrap. Ky, however, will have the assistance of the doughty, tough, and experienced Quincy Robin as crew chief and Gary Tobin as loadmaster. She’s reluctant to scrap a serviceable vessel—but how to obtain the huge sums necessary to pay for upgrades and repairs? Planet Belinta needs agricultural machinery and will pay well to get it; and said machinery is available in the Sabine system. During the voyage, though, the ship’s star drive goes down, and the crew arrives on the brink of a war between Sabine Prime and Secundus. Someone destroys the system’s ansibles (instantaneous communicators), so Kylara can’t contact her father for funds or advice. Unable to make repairs, she casts off from the orbital station—it might be attacked next—and moves away on in-system drive. Soon, however, mercenaries hired by Secundus intercept and board the ship. Ky has no choice but to play along in a situation where the slightest mistake could get her crew killed or her ship destroyed.

A passable setup, with absorbing, fairly low-key complications and agreeable character development: an auspicious series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-44760-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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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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A somewhat fragmentary nocturnal shadows Jim Nightshade and his friend Will Halloway, born just before and just after midnight on the 31st of October, as they walk the thin line between real and imaginary worlds. A carnival (evil) comes to town with its calliope, merry-go-round and mirror maze, and in its distortion, the funeral march is played backwards, their teacher's nephew seems to assume the identity of the carnival's Mr. Cooger. The Illustrated Man (an earlier Bradbury title) doubles as Mr. Dark. comes for the boys and Jim almost does; and there are other spectres in this freakshow of the mind, The Witch, The Dwarf, etc., before faith casts out all these fears which the carnival has exploited... The allusions (the October country, the autumn people, etc.) as well as the concerns of previous books will be familiar to Bradbury's readers as once again this conjurer limns a haunted landscape in an allegory of good and evil. Definitely for all admirers.

Pub Date: June 15, 1962

ISBN: 0380977273

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1962

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