Radiant concepts, dialogue, and prose elevate this dystopian tale.

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INSIDE THE THIRD

BOOK #2 IN THE ROLL CALL TRILOGY

In this sequel, freedom fighters go on the offensive against their fascist enemies in a post-apocalyptic United States.

An asteroid named Jurbay destroyed the western United States in 2063. The Third, a military government, took over the remaining 28 states and proceeded to eliminate any opposition. The regime employed Genetically Engineering Beings and the process of “locasa,” which can remove memories and sever a person’s connection to home and family. Now, in 2088, Avery DeTornada and other members of The United 28 continue to resist The Third in a land ravaged by disease and environmental despoliation. Avery; her lover, McGinty; her half-GEB son, Chapman; and the mentally unstable neuroscientist Pasha (among others) operate from “an abandoned zoo northwest of the Waters of Erie.” After five years of running, Avery’s group strikes a deal with Degnan, who controls the Dark Market deep beneath the Waters of Erie. He helps The United 28 access The Third’s operations through the Warrior Strip, a secret course that parallels the Dark Market. He reveals that Commander Dorsey, leader of The Third, possesses the torpedo-like “fishborn” weapon (“with a fin on the back end”), which only needs power to launch directly at Avery’s settlement. She suspects Degnan can’t be trusted, but what of her own people? In this second installment of a trilogy, Mansfield (Roll Call, 2015, etc.) shifts her focus from the space-operatic threat of GEBs and other genre tropes to the complex emotions of loving someone you can’t fully understand. Though Chapman is only 5 years old, his odd behavior makes Avery wonder, “Am I raising a son or a weapon pointing at me?” This question isn’t posed lightly in a nation that leads the world in gun-related deaths. Later, the author’s optimism bleeds through when the test of a fishborn rattles her heroes. McGinty’s affection prompts Avery to say, “How can you kiss me right now?” He replies: “In a world like this, every moment must be the best moment.” Concepts like Pepper, an unfinished GEB who’s pregnant and unable to give birth, and a nightmarish cliffhanger prove Mansfield has boldness to spare.

Radiant concepts, dialogue, and prose elevate this dystopian tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5451-9299-3

Page Count: 452

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2018

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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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DUNE

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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