An apt beach read about Aquatics, even if the slam-bang heroics go over the top.

Sea City

THE THIRD HELIX

As global warming threatens Earth, human scientists encounter an incredible race of sea people who offer help in reversing environmental disaster—but an equally ancient enemy also resurfaces.

This debut novel’s conceit is that all of humanity’s mythology about undersea folk—mermen,  King Neptune, and the like—is true. The same microbe-laden meteorite that seeds life on Earth initially brings forth a race of scaly, humanoid “Aquatics,” who settle in the Atlantic and Pacific. Amazingly long-lived and almost godlike in their sufficiently advanced science that’s indistinguishable from magic, Aquatics safeguard the planet’s progress for eons (minimizing harm caused by the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, for example). A pair of them adapts under duress to terrestrial life, evolving into Homo sapiens. Finally, the Aquatics emerge from their polar hiding place to confront mankind in 2037 because of one problem they can’t handle alone: climate change. Though land dwellers have switched to cold fusion (and settled international conflicts via a one-world government), unhealthy carbon emissions have raised sea levels and greenhouse gases to extinction levels. King Kronos of the Aquatics asks the cooperation of Dr. Nova Zorian of the floating lab complex Sea City to coordinate a joint operation to restore balance to the atmosphere. But Hyperion, an ancient Aquatic banished because of his villainy, who has infiltrated elite human society, uses the crisis to make his ultimate grab for power. This novel may be Al Gore–worthy in its trendy concern about 21st-century global warming, but its heart belongs to the sci-fi fantasy pulps and funny pages of earlier eras, when manly men laughed at danger, lady scientists turned out to be beautiful, and bad guys cackled insanely. As marine beings undergo painful adaptations and DNA mutations out of the water, there might have been a chance here for a sci-fi riff on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” but, alas, that doesn’t happen. Instead, Nolan offers plenty of action and monsters/mutants (shark women and octopus-wolves, among others). The tale’s climactic battle seems to owe more to Marvel Comics’ Jack Kirby than to the Mediterranean lore of the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians.

An apt beach read about Aquatics, even if the slam-bang heroics go over the top.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5033-0449-9

Page Count: 316

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 75

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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

Did you like this book?

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more