Not much for sci-fi enthusiasts to gnaw on, but gravy for inquiring Bible readers.

THE LAZARUS PARABLE: A Revelation for the 21st Century

Bonner spins out a biblically fueled, apocalyptic, intergalactic cautionary tale.

Into the sleepy little burg of Onyx, Miss., come five strange strangers. Strange because two among them have orange skin with raccoon bands across their eyes, and the lone woman is green. They claim to be interstellar travelers, on Earth to make new friends. But the clever Rev. Jimmie Jordan has seen them before in the Bible. Indeed, two of them are descendants of Cain, come to warn Earthlings of the looming threat of the Froecutters, vengeance-seeking extraterrestrials persecuted by Adam (of Adam and Eve) before he was cast down to Earth for intergalactic transgressions. There follows a fairly intriguing, if somewhat dry and stilted (“It’ll be hard to be friends to the people who treat their friends the way you treated us,” complains one extraterrestrial) sci-fi story in which the United States becomes a deep-space powerhouse, unfortunately bringing its bullying ways along with it, thus spelling its doom, twined with an analysis of events as seen through a selective reading of biblical passages by Rev. Jordan. The reverend’s detailed interpretations are where Bonner most clearly enjoys himself; the bad boys locked in sidereal warfare are often merely straw dogs. Skeptics who enjoy studying the Bible, its lacunae and contradictions, will enjoy Bonner’s constructing a reading of the Godhead mystery, explaining the true faults of Sodom, revealing the Earth as Hell (“The Moon is the headstone therefore the Earth is the grave and the dead are those to be saved”). The Lazarus parable, wherein Satan lures man out of the tomb before his time played against the Earthlings bumbling cosmic peregrinations, has far less oomph than the simple parable of Hell on Earth, where love and peace fall before greed and power-mongering. Bonner’s writing has more ease and jump when rummaging through the Bible: John the Baptist “received limited press in each of the gospels.” The ending, though, in which Judgment Day is left hanging, is unsatisfying.

Not much for sci-fi enthusiasts to gnaw on, but gravy for inquiring Bible readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-595-45234-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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

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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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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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