Though there are a few historical missteps, readers who savor the patient accumulation of detail around each scenario will...

ARMISTICE

From the Hot War series , Vol. 3

Wrapping up the author’s latest alternate-history trilogy (Fallout, 2016, etc.), in which he explores the question: what if Truman had used nuclear weapons in the Korean War?

Turtledove provides just enough detail to keep us apprised of the overall picture. By 1952, major cities in Europe, the USSR, China, and the U.S. lie in ruins. America and Germany are allies trying to repulse a Soviet attack, while Soviet satellites states rise up in rebellion. President Harry Truman, still in office after two Russian A-bombs wiped out Washington and the Pentagon and mourning the loss of his family, presides over a makeshift government in Philadelphia, dickering with Eisenhower to stay in power until elections can be organized while plotting to take out Stalin. For those who must continue to fight, or live with the consequences, the struggle for survival goes on. Those familiar with Turtledove’s distinctive approach know themes such as race, religion, politics, and the reality of interminable warfare will get a workout, while the story’s focus remains on ordinary characters and how they cope with their particular circumstances. Unreconstructed former Waffen-SS Capt. Rolf Mehlen fights with America against Soviet invaders. In Britain, USAF bomber pilot Bruce McNulty mourns the loss of his beloved and wrestles with guilt over his part in the killing of millions. In South Korea—yes, the war drags on; unleashing nuclear weapons made not a scrap of difference—Capt. Cade Curtis schemes to bring to America the young Korean soldier who saved his life. In California, appliance installer Aaron Finch tries to build a life in the aftermath of atomic bombing. Luisa Hozzel, a German hausfrau, wonders if she will survive the Siberian gulag.

Though there are a few historical missteps, readers who savor the patient accumulation of detail around each scenario will by now be thoroughly addicted.

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-39076-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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

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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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SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

A somewhat fragmentary nocturnal shadows Jim Nightshade and his friend Will Halloway, born just before and just after midnight on the 31st of October, as they walk the thin line between real and imaginary worlds. A carnival (evil) comes to town with its calliope, merry-go-round and mirror maze, and in its distortion, the funeral march is played backwards, their teacher's nephew seems to assume the identity of the carnival's Mr. Cooger. The Illustrated Man (an earlier Bradbury title) doubles as Mr. Dark. comes for the boys and Jim almost does; and there are other spectres in this freakshow of the mind, The Witch, The Dwarf, etc., before faith casts out all these fears which the carnival has exploited... The allusions (the October country, the autumn people, etc.) as well as the concerns of previous books will be familiar to Bradbury's readers as once again this conjurer limns a haunted landscape in an allegory of good and evil. Definitely for all admirers.

Pub Date: June 15, 1962

ISBN: 0380977273

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1962

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