Compulsively readable military sci-fi with a strong humanist side that isn’t overwhelmed by bloodshed and doomsday weapons.

READ REVIEW

Marsco Triumphant

From the The Marsco Saga series , Vol. 2

Zarzana’s (The Marsco Dissident, 2013) bravura second installment in his ongoing saga continues his broad-canvas approach to political power plays, betrayals, and invasions at the end of the 21st century.

In this novel, three factions scheme to attack or subvert Marsco, an Earth-based corporation with a virtual monopoly on software, advanced munitions, and interstellar-travel technology. The company decisively seized power from the corrupt governments of Earth in the mid-2000s. The planet is now a shattered, semi-occupied former battleground strewn with peasants known as “PRIMS,” while elites jockey for positions in Marsco’s ruling autocracy. The latter’s success is defined by finger-disc implants that signify rank, mobility, and access to Marsco cybernetworks. To many, these military-corporate rulers of mankind are no better than the fascist Continental Powers who brought on the planet’s ruin. Among the disenchanted is Anthony “Zot” Grizotti, an “iceman” who’s expert at tending humans in hibernation during long space voyages. He’s curious and incautious enough to join an alliance of secret Marsco opponents; one of them is the remaining fragment of the Continental Powers’ attack fleet, hidden in the asteroid belt, and the other is the Nexus, a fanatical, cultlike PRIMS rebel group underground on Earth. Meanwhile, Walter Miller, who was once one of Marsco’s premiere innovators, works with fellow insiders on the next generation of spaceship propulsion—a technology that’s potentially far beyond Marsco’s reach. Like its predecessor, this installment is heavy with dialogue. However, the speakers are all well-drawn characters who are either heavily conflicted or deeply committed (romantically or politically). When action arrives, it comes on like a firestorm of Tom Clancy–esque ordnance, aerospace feats, and strategy, though with considerably more introspection and less of the slam-bang video-gaming style that often makes similar material resemble a live-action cartoon. A helpful glossary of Marsco-era slang is essential, especially for newcomers to Zarzana’s universe.

Compulsively readable military sci-fi with a strong humanist side that isn’t overwhelmed by bloodshed and doomsday weapons. 

Pub Date: April 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5153-0202-5

Page Count: 652

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

THE BOOK OF KOLI

The first volume in Carey’s Rampart trilogy is set centuries into a future shaped by war and climate change, where the scant remains of humankind are threatened by genetically modified trees and plants.

Teenager Koli Woodsmith lives in Mythen Rood, a village of about 200 people in a place called Ingland, which has other names such as “Briton and Albion and Yewkay.” He was raised to cultivate, and kill, the wood from the dangerous trees beyond Mythen Rood’s protective walls. Mythen Rood is governed by the Ramparts (made up entirely of members of one family—what a coincidence), who protect the village with ancient, solar-powered tech. After the Waiting, a time in which each child, upon turning 15, must decide their future, Koli takes the Rampart test: He must “awaken” a piece of old tech. After he inevitably fails, he steals a music player which houses a charming “manic pixie dream girl” AI named Monono, who reveals a universe of knowledge. Of course, a little bit of knowledge can threaten entire societies or, in Koli’s case, a village held in thrall to a family with unfettered access to powerful weapons. Koli attempts to use the device to become a Rampart, he becomes their greatest threat, and he’s exiled to the world beyond Mythen Rood. Luckily, the pragmatic Koli has his wits, Monono, and an ally in Ursala, a traveling doctor who strives to usher in a healthy new generation of babies before humanity dies out for good. Koli will need all the help he can get, especially when he’s captured by a fearsome group ruled by a mad messianic figure who claims to have psychic abilities. Narrator Koli’s inquisitive mind and kind heart make him the perfect guide to Carey’s (Someone Like Me, 2018, etc.) immersive, impeccably rendered world, and his speech and way of life are different enough to imagine the weight of what was lost but still achingly familiar, and as always, Carey leavens his often bleak scenarios with empathy and hope. Readers will be thrilled to know the next two books will be published in short order.

A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-47753-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more