A grand saga, though not recommended for newcomers, the implicit assumption being that you’re familiar with both the...

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ORIGINATOR

Sixth installment (Operation Shield, 2014, etc.) in Shepherd’s ferocious, far-future, multilateral power struggle.

The context, what with opposing human Federation and League civilizations, the humanoid alien Talee and numerous factions within each, is far from easy to assimilate. Federation Spec Ops warrior Cassandra “Sandy” Kresnov and her fellow GIs, synthetic humans with superhuman powers, have taken it upon themselves to try to prevent another devastating war with the League. But with no functioning government, FedInt (intelligence) feuding bitterly with FSA (security), and few natural human organics who trust the GIs, it isn’t easy. And when a quarter of a million people die in the destruction of the League moon Cresta, another war seems inevitable, especially when it becomes clear that those responsible are in the grip of a technologically induced psychosis that threatens to infect the rest of humanity. Then the synthetic Talee operative Cai shows up, warning that the Talee once nearly destroyed themselves in the same technologically induced insanity and will go to any lengths to prevent a recurrence. Renaldo Takewashi, who developed the synthetics and their technological implants using ancient Talee technology, arrives with both the League and the Talee in hot pursuit. Takewashi insists that advanced technology implanted in the head of Kiril, the youngest of the three human children Sandy has adopted, is the key to preventing the psychosis—the same technology the Talee fear losing control of. Shepherd, who hails from Australia, writes sustained, intense and gripping action sequences interspersed with powerful dialogue that delves into the complex technological, philosophical and political implications of the situation. Evocative and eloquent, the whole impressive package hurtles along at a relentless pace.

A grand saga, though not recommended for newcomers, the implicit assumption being that you’re familiar with both the characters and the background.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61614-992-5

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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