A well-told tale of galactic problem-solving and command-chair decision-making.

THE INDUS INCURSION

A battle-damaged spaceship belonging to much-feared alien warriors accidentally trespasses near a human outpost in this continuation of Lallier’s Solar Commonwealth SF series.

This military space adventure is set 20 years after the previous series installment, The Eridani Incident (2019). Jason Ngene is a high-ranking officer in Earth’s spacefaring forces, returning with his imposing Regent for a ceremonial visit to an inhabited planet where humans fought and won a skirmish with aggressive, catlike aliens called the Feorae. It was a rare alien interaction for Homo sapiens, who are merely junior members of a loose Solar Commonwealth of inhabited worlds, most of which are far more advanced than Earth. Still, many in the commonwealth still grieve the hundreds of lives lost in the battle. Meanwhile, an odd failure of life-support systems aboard patrol ships has left the distant human colony of Tellus vulnerable, and a battle-crippled Feorin ship, requiring repairs, unknowingly comes too close to the outpost. Alerts go off throughout the fleet, with some Feorae-hating officers spoiling for a revenge fight and others fighting to avert what could touch off a cataclysmic war. Lallier appears to acknowledge his clear debt to the Star Trek franchise with his dedication (“For James T.”) and a minor medical character with the surname Chapel. One can easily hear the voice of actor Patrick Stewart whenever the Jean-Luc Picard–like Regent speaks. However, this is no carbon copy of other people’s works. Unlike Gene Roddenberry’s smoothly functioning Federation and its ideal of enlightened starship troopers cooperating in military and scientific harmony, Lallier depicts a restive, divided mankind, with commanders and bureaucrats jostling for rank and power while harboring personal grudges. The author also generates some sympathy for the Feorae, whose captain is wise enough to run his ship of clawed minions with Klingon-like honor rather than arbitrary cruelty. Ultimately, this is a solid follow-up that bodes well for future installments in the series.

A well-told tale of galactic problem-solving and command-chair decision-making.

Pub Date: April 18, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 345

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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