A jaw-dropping, knowing, hyperintelligent yarn that, like the author's previous outings, would have benefitted from fewer...



Following a dazzling science-fiction trilogy, Rajaniemi (Invisible Planets, 2017, etc.) offers a sort of neo-steampunk spy story wherein the afterlife is real.

Discovered by Victorian scientist-spiritualists—who else?—Summerland, a city of the dead, was built by a now-vanished alien race. To get there when you die you need only visualize a kind of four-dimensional hieroglyph called a Ticket. Occupied exclusively by the British (but why?), Summerland has a fully functioning infrastructure and economy (but why would dead people need this?), and its inhabitants can talk to the still-living via ectophone or visit the mundane by renting the body of a medium. On Earth, it’s 1938, and the Spanish Civil War threatens to explode, with Britain supporting the Fascists, while the Soviet Union (run with uncanny precision by a vast collective intellect whose kernel is the departed V.I. Lenin augmented by millions of dead souls) assists the Communists in a conflict fought with aetherguns and ectotanks. (Take a deep breath. Exhale.) British Secret Intelligence Service operative Rachel White learns the identity of a Soviet mole. Unfortunately, Peter Bloom is not only dead, but he works for the SIS’s Summerland branch. Worse, when Rachel reports the discovery, she’s ridiculed and reassigned to menial work—Bloom, you see, has close family connections to Prime Minister Herbert Blanco West (closely modeled on H.G. Wells, with what seems to be an admixture of David Lloyd George), so nobody’s willing to risk career and afterlife to investigate. Rajaniemi’s name-dropping yarn bulges with both real-world and imaginary spies and SIS agents, politicians, and scientists, but the impressive and apposite details—there are ecto-equivalents of most computer functions—often seem designed to obscure intractable flaws in the framework. Neither are the characters easy to take a shine to when the dead ones have more substance and simpatico than the living.

A jaw-dropping, knowing, hyperintelligent yarn that, like the author's previous outings, would have benefitted from fewer smarts and more warmth.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17892-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


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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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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