An uncompromising cautionary tale with bold notions about how the government of Earth ought to conduct itself.

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Belligerent states on Earth get their just deserts from an intergalactic enforcer in Roberto’s sci-fi thriller.

Robert Benson—astrophysicist, quantum mechanics expert, professor, survivor, narrator—first experienced a visitation to Earth by an alien emissary from the Association of Planets in 1951, when he was nine years old. Though distant, the Association was troubled by Earth’s warring tendencies and sought to bring peace. But the American government was in no mood—politicians and their military-industrial cronies were getting rich off war. When the emissary leaves, the government viciously works to erase all memory of the visit. In particular, it persecutes Benson’s mother, who had become close of the emissary, Klaatu. Benson, now 70, is on hand to witness the consequences as the Association sends a destroyer to wipe out all nuclear capabilities of Earth, and a significant portion of its population. Roberto sets forth the proceedings with a good dash of retro color—a flying saucer and a monster robot complete with helmet-head and visor, “a horrible, but magnificent sight”—plenty of suspense, a disturbing canvas of the world’s nuclear landscape and a fondness for goosey modifiers (“ravening terror”), with the elements working together to develop the pleasing, melodramatic timbre of comic books. Along the way, Benson offers a handful of pointed opinions about lawyers (“the ruin of us all”), how to conduct war (Major Holloway: “[I]t should be waged as such until every last one of your enemy is destroyed…men, women, and children.” Benson: “Well said, Major Holloway.”) and the fathomless evil of politicians. This all makes him an intriguing, complicated figure, to say the least: a libertarian constitutionalist whose farewell speech—he’s off to Muurae, Klaatu’s home planet—could have been written by Orwell: “If the people of Earth fail to proceed along the path of peaceful existence, if you fail to follow the Association of Planets guidelines and regulations toward a new peaceful and prosperous Earth,” well, the peaceniks in the Association will blow you to smithereens.

An uncompromising cautionary tale with bold notions about how the government of Earth ought to conduct itself.

Pub Date: March 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-1450063944

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2010

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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