A sci-fi adventure with plenty of action and character intrigue.

ENDEMIC

In this novel, a covert team investigates an unexplained outbreak of a deadly virus in Africa.

A secret organization strives to protect the people of Earth from things “that are not supposed to exist,” such as aliens. This outfit recruits Hugo Valentine, who leads a team of operators that is currently in Africa on an undercover mission. The other members include French physician Thelmia; Cid, a cyborg armed with alien technology; and Chuck, whose biological modification provides him with unparalleled speed. But soon they welcome a new associate, Rajiv, a scientist from the Research division who has details on their latest assignment. Over in Congo is an outbreak of what Research believes is the Marburg virus, although it may be Ebola. Posing as a World Health Organization team, Hugo and the others head to the community of Watsa to investigate the hemorrhagic virus. Once there, they don hazmat suits to examine the specific village where the epidemic apparently originated. Surprisingly, they discover mutilated bodies of people who appear to have died violently and not necessarily from the disease. This soon precipitates the additional threat of cannibals in the area. Although the team is combat-trained, taking care of a group of cannibalistic killers coupled with stopping the spread of the virus may be too much for the band to handle. But finally identifying the real enemy leads the team to the pathogen’s shocking genesis while a hefty gunfight culminates in missing colleagues. Lynch’s (New Persia, 2018) action-laden sci-fi tale certainly delivers the goods. As part of the clandestine organization, team members undergo three “Phases” of rigorous training, and Chuck isn’t the only biologically modified one in the band. There are copious particulars on the group’s weapons, along with countless flying bullets and the occasional explosion. But the author also excels at describing suspenseful scenes, such as the team stealthily tracking killers in the jungle. Thelmia, for example, slowly and carefully sets up an explosive while “Chuck partially unsheathed his throwing knife, and Rajiv screwed a suppressor onto his PDW” (a submachine gun). Moreover, Lynch incorporates into his novel a subtle theme of science versus religion. Hugo, a practitioner of voudoun, represents the latter, and his invocation of spirits can trigger an apparent trance or even a seizure. This worries Thelmia, who views his episodes as a doctor and believes Hugo not reporting them (presumably to the organization) puts the whole team in danger. Readers learn only fragments of information regarding the organization and the training it provides as well as the alien encounter that ultimately led to Cid’s new plastic-skinned body. Other characters are likewise mysterious, as their backstories are largely unknown. This nevertheless has a benefit: The narrative, minus extended exposition or flashbacks, rarely slows down. This book is furthermore the first installment of a series, and follow-ups will surely attract readers hoping to learn more about these skilled, enigmatic players.

A sci-fi adventure with plenty of action and character intrigue.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61309-637-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc.

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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