A feverish, demanding story that’s refreshingly new.



Alberts (The Battery Man, 2013) envisions a bleak future in which the rich may legally buy the poor like cattle.

In 2068, life for average Americans has never been worse. Gun ownership is illegal, social safety nets are gone, and companies fire employees after a single offense. The desperate masses, in turn, can opt to sell themselves to facilities known as Arcologies. With large payments made to family members, individuals become the property of these towering structures, where, as 21st-century slaves, they exist and die at the pleasure of the superrich. Nothing is off-limits—sex, gladiatorial combat, organ donation, anything. Within the Shinu Arcology, near Chicago, lives a disparate group of enslaved people that includes Mitch, Lisa, Delano, Rick and Alex. Coping with their fates, they make heroic choices that help them succeed against the murderous Arcology. In an experiment, Mitch’s consciousness is transferred into the facility’s computer network. Elsewhere, Lisa is secretly sold as a fighter to a man named Malboq, from whom she learns that the Arcologies are run by the Shinjimori yakuza; he’d like her to help vanquish their global tyranny. But can this assortment of heroes foment revolution before the yakuza punish the rest of the world? Author Alberts brings tremendous energy, imagination and technological smarts to his sprawling narrative. He skilfully weaves multiple character threads into a robust, frightfully believable world. Readers will happily root for Alberts’ heroes since the villainy is so starkly presented; for example, one of the prison guards reminds Lisa, “You do what we want, when we want it, and you don’t ask questions. You’re not a person anymore. You’re a plaything; a pet.” In general, however, Alberts often uses descriptions with three words when one will suffice, so some passages take on a sheen that might exhaust readers, as when “she could no longer contain her own emotions in full, as a wellspring of tears began to fill behind the ineffective levees of her eyelids.” Nevertheless, this lurid, fascinating work will satisfy deep thinkers.

A feverish, demanding story that’s refreshingly new.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493575084

Page Count: 576

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2014

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An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.


In Crouch’s sci-fi–driven thriller, a machine designed to help people relive their memories creates apocalyptic consequences.

In 2018, NYPD Detective Barry Sutton unsuccessfully tries to talk Ann Voss Peters off the edge of the Poe Building. She claims to have False Memory Syndrome, a bewildering condition that seems to be spreading. People like Ann have detailed false memories of other lives lived, including marriages and children, but in “shades of gray, like film noir stills.” For some, like Ann, an overwhelming sense of loss leads to suicide. Barry knows loss: Eleven years ago, his 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Details from Ann’s story lead him to dig deeper, and his investigation leads him to a mysterious place called Hotel Memory, where he makes a life-altering discovery. In 2007, a ridiculously wealthy philanthropist and inventor named Marcus Slade offers neuroscientist Helena Smith the chance of a lifetime and an unlimited budget to build a machine that allows people to relive their memories. He says he wants to “change the world.” Helena hopes that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, will benefit from her passion project. The opportunity for unfettered research is too tempting to turn down. However, when Slade takes the research in a controversial direction, Helena may have to destroy her dream to save the world. Returning to a few of the themes he explored in Dark Matter (2016), Crouch delivers a bullet-fast narrative and raises the stakes to a fever pitch. A poignant love story is woven in with much food for thought on grief and the nature of memories and how they shape us, rounding out this twisty and terrifying thrill ride.

An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-5978-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.


Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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