A bizarre metaphysical trip in sci-fi packaging.

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INTERSECTION MAN

A patient becomes trapped at the intersection of two universes in this sci-fi debut.

Miami, 2025. Sick veteran Levan Lamarr’s wife, Mira, is scheduled to give birth to their first child in a week. But Levan isn’t expected to live that long. Out of the blue, a robot arrives bearing the face of a scientist—Dr. Jonah Salter, head of the multinational Salter Pharma—and a briefcase full of cash. Salter says he thinks he can cure Lev’s bone cancer and is willing to pay him $5 million for the opportunity to try. “I have invented a machine that, well, theoretically can reset your health to that of a point in your past,” explains Salter. “I call it the Entangler.” The only catch is that every time Salter has tried the procedure, the patient died in the process. Lev agrees, figuring that if he dies Mira will at least have $5 million to raise their daughter. The process involves Quantum Entanglement: placing Lev at the intersection between this universe and another near-identical one, making him the only thing in either world that can influence both. The procedure works and Lev is cured, but he continues to experience both universes simultaneously. As time goes on, the worlds become less and less identical to each another, and as the mercurial lives of other people morph around him, Lev must find a way to preserve his own humanity. In his ambitious novel, Nair does his best to keep readers with him as he explains the complicated mechanics of the plot, though he can’t always avoid scientific jargon. Even the action sequences aren’t always the easiest to explain: “At the same time, one of the two Jonahs (the one who’d seen the intruder through the mirror) ducked. A bullet hit the Jonah-who-didn’t-duck on the head, and he collapsed. The other bullet missed the Jonah-who-ducked.” The novel’s characters are rather wooden, though this matters less as the intricate plot develops and identities shift, evolve, or are subsumed into new ones. Fans of cerebral sci-fi should appreciate the extent to which the author follows his inventive premise into weirder and weirder territory.

A bizarre metaphysical trip in sci-fi packaging.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5485-5614-3

Page Count: 408

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

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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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ENDER'S GAME

A rather one-dimensional but mostly satisfying child-soldier yarn which substantially extends and embellishes one of Card's better short stories (Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories, 1980).

Following a barely-defeated invasion attempt by the insect-like alien "buggers," a desperate Earth command resorts to genetic experimentation in order to produce a tactical genius capable of defeating the buggers in round two. (A counterinvasion has already been launched, but will take years to reach the buggers' home planet.) So likable but determined "Ender" Wiggins, age six, becomes Earth's last hope—when his equally talented elder siblings Peter (too vicious and vindictive) and Valentine (too gentle and sympathetic) prove unsuitable. And, in a dramatic, brutally convincing series of war games and computer-fantasies, Ender is forced to realize his military genius, to rely on nothing and no-one but himself. . . and to disregard all rules in order to win. There are some minor, distracting side issues here: wrangles among Ender's adult trainers; an irrelevant subplot involving Peter's attempt to take over Earth. And there'll be no suspense for those familiar with the short story.

Still, the long passages focusing on Ender are nearly always enthralling—the details are handled with flair and assurance—and this is altogether a much more solid, mature, and persuasive effort than Card's previous full-length appearances.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1984

ISBN: 0812550706

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1984

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