Tree-hugging sci-fi—familiar stuff that still grows on you.

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Climbing the Rain

A NOVEL

Forced to accompany a commercial expedition to a dangerous, distant planet, business negotiator Leyden finds himself caught in civil strife, intrigue, and romance within a tree-dwelling primitive culture.  

Perched on the edge of the solar system, the Illium Archipelago has drastically changed humankind’s destiny. A gateway to myriad distant star systems, it has enabled a vast-reaching trading network as well as venture capitalists, reaching worlds now populated by descendants of early human explorers. Leyden, a disgraced businessman with a weakness for the ladies, is sprung from prison by a Rigelian syndicate so that his negotiating skills can help the dubious “Eëlios Biological Mission.” His trek to a seldom visited, remote planet is part of their plan to exploit the planet’s fertile rainforest. But a botched landing on Eëlios is accompanied by acts of sabotage, murder, and unmanned-drone attacks, a dead giveaway that the team—a mix of mercenaries, scientists, and quavering Leyden—have secret, ruthless competition in the field. The century-old “native” colony on Eëlios—they’re green-skinned folk who dwell in the giant forest canopy—uneasily embrace Leyden, who begins to transform bodily and emotionally. While very little happens that can’t be predicted (or storyboarded for Hollywood), Cincotta’s novel ably guides the reader through a verdure of lush landscapes featuring sketches of borderline-pulp characters, including double-dealing warriors and a seductress. The exotic deep-space adventure echoes genre landmarks, notably James Cameron’s Avatar and the like, while one of his supporting characters shares a similar name with Hayao Miyazaki’s eco-friendly heroine Nausicaa (or perhaps her Greek forebear from The Odyssey). Still, the derivatives seldom wilt the basic entertainment factor of this well-cultivated yarn.

Tree-hugging sci-fi—familiar stuff that still grows on you.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-51-696183-2

Page Count: 322

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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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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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

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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