Too much happens to too many people over the course of too many years. After the third or fourth climax, the thrill is gone.

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ELIXIR

The discovery of a potion that reverses aging and prolongs life leads all-too expectedly to tragedy in this overstuffed, slow-to-develop thriller.

While on a field trip to Papua, New Guinea, in 1980, Chris Bacon, senior researcher for Darby Pharmaceuticals, learns of tabukari, the `forbidden flower of long days.` His old school chum Iwati, now a powerful shaman, has been smoking it for years. More than 120 years, in fact, though Iwati sometimes quaffs it as tea or mixes it with his yams. So, why it takes years to process and costs millions and several lives is hard to fathom. In any case, once international drug lord Antoine Ducharme is brought into the deal by Darby's greedy but weak CFO, Quentin Cross, anything can and does happen. Called `tabulone,` the elixir seems to actually work. Miss an injection, however, and it's an ungodly death via accelerated aging as demonstrated by several mice and monkeys, plus one witless lab assistant. Chris, fearful of early-onset Alzheimer's, is tempted to start the treatments on himself. First, though, he's framed by Cross and Ducharme in the murder of a recalcitrant geneticist and the blowing up of a plane. Chris, his wife, Wendy, and their newborn son are forced underground and assume new names and identities. Chris (now called Roger), who absconded with all of the elixir samples, lab notes, and formulas, begins taking the drug. At 50-something, he looks 35. The FBI finds him out, though, when an old friend spots him despite his youthful appearance. The confusing denouement takes days to play out and brings to the final chase not just Ducharme and the FBI, but a paramilitary radical religious leader who's decided that Chris/Roger is the Antichrist.

Too much happens to too many people over the course of too many years. After the third or fourth climax, the thrill is gone.

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-87308-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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