FUTURE PROMETHEUS II

REVOLUTION, SUCCESSIONS & RESURRECTIONS

Erickson’s (Future Prometheus, 2013) dystopian, militaristic sci-fi saga continues the adventures of a male lieutenant who awakens from cryogenic freezing in a world run by women.
In the first book (not recapped in this volume), scientist Lt. Jose Melendez found in 2019 that he was one of the few adult men on Earth who wasn’t struck by a strange pandemic that made most of them brutal and violent. Due to his rare status, he submitted himself for medical testing and, in the process, was accidentally frozen for 150 years, finally waking up in a corrupt matriarchal society—a country called Nemericana—that continued to kill and/or banish all male children despite the pandemic having been wiped out years ago. Events proceed in the same vein in the second set of novellas, which tracks, among other things, a series of military actions between the various sides; Melendez’s capture at the hands of Aurora, the head of a cybernetic army; and the relationships between various characters, such as Maj. Mare Sade Singh and her human son, Roberto, who, to her surprise and dismay, has impregnated a woman. Melendez had been rescued by a number of cybernetic women who had also been cast out due to their beginning to achieve sentience, and their revolution against the government continues with Melendez’s help. Erickson has crafted a fascinating series with complex characters and an incredibly rich premise. It’s rare and refreshing to find such female-driven drama—particularly in the context of militaristic sci-fi—that never resorts to stereotypes. At times, the action can grow a bit repetitive, and the forward momentum sometimes stalls in favor of dialogue-heavy scenes. However, these scenes and character dynamics are so strong that it’s easy to forgive. Creating full-bodied characters is as important to Erickson as sci-fi philosophizing, which is crucial to the book’s success.

A truly original sci-fi series with strong ideas and even stronger characters.

Pub Date: May 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1478734772

Page Count: 482

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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