Impressive, with dull intervals, but for the committed only.

THE ARCHITECT OF AEONS

Fourth of a projected six-volume series (The Judge of Ages, 2014, etc.) charting the future history of an Earth threatened by almost inconceivably advanced alien invaders. 

Two rival post-human supergeniuses, boorish libertarian Menelaus Montrose and supercilious totalitarian Ximen del Azarchel, laid plans against the Hyades and then retired into suspended animation to await the result. They awaken, eager to learn whether humanity defeated the Hyades, as Montrose hoped, or were found worthy of being slaves, as was del Azarchel’s intent. The truth, when they finally learn it—after what seems like hundreds of pages of tedious bickering—proves disastrous for both, since whatever they do, they seem constrained to carry out the Hyades’ designs. Worse, another invasion threatens, this time by the Hyades’ bosses, the Cahetel. Montrose prepares an elaborate fleet to combat them, while del Azarchel begins a process to transform the planet Jupiter into an intelligence 250 million times smarter than a baseline human. Montrose and del Azarchel will fight yet another duel. And at the end of it all, 17,000 years remain before a third post-human, Princess Rania, over whom they are fighting, returns from the remote globular star cluster where she has gone to confront the Hyades’ bosses’ bosses’ bosses. Once again Wright provides plenty of intellectual food for thought, with a useful chronology as an appendix, the intent being to emulate such works as Olaf Stapledon’s classic Last and First Men. Inevitably, what plot there is deteriorates into a series of revelations that test the characters—and challenge those readers tenacious enough to stick with it, especially knowing they’ll wait two more books before finding out what happens and who gets the girl.

Impressive, with dull intervals, but for the committed only.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2970-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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

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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