A bracing start to a darkly vibrant saga about a ravaged Earth.

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EXODUS OF THE CY

In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi debut, an enslaved race of cyborgs becomes caught between two warring clans of humanity.

On an Earth devastated by storms and blighted with deserts, a cyborg race (the cy) struggles to finish building a tower called Sky Lance. During a nasty tempest, an old cy engineer named Moshan is about to evacuate the tower when he learns that someone is still up on Troposphere five. He soon locates a female cy named Brinn, who works at the tower’s base as a healer. She’d wanted to see the miracle of the Sky Lance herself and so ventured up there. Moshan finds her, however, only to be struck by lightning and thrown miles to the ground. Cy Hadran, meanwhile, is a lowly Standard Unit who cleans garbage in the trenches radiating from the tower’s base. He finds Moshan’s body and is stunned when the old cy awakes. Moshan says that the Remnant, the mythological group of humans who fled a ruined Earth, have rescued him from death and given him a mission—to free the cy from the slavery of King Strauss and destroy the tower. This is indeed the plan of the General Order of the Democrats, who live on space stations orbiting Earth and must wrest the planet back from the secret machinations of the Dirt Queen, Gen. Ember Gallia. Martin begins his new series with an addictive fusion of over-the-top concepts (reminiscent of Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass) and streamlined sci-fi action. His prose conveys the narrative’s apocalyptic tone in tight, gripping jolts, like in the description of cars and refrigerators as “sun-scorched hulks of debris...the bones of some extinct race of robotic creatures.” Martin’s characters are likewise excellent, including the Dirt Queen, a patchwork creature with one bionic eye, “blue, and eerily perfect, the other gray, sunken, and milky with cataracts.” Most compelling of all is the notion that without Earth, “survival would be...a protracted act of wilting.” The finale promises raised stakes for the heroes in the next volume.

A bracing start to a darkly vibrant saga about a ravaged Earth.

Pub Date: May 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5309-2672-5

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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

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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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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