While making no claims to originality: fast-moving, distinctive, and sometimes spectacular.

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PARADOX

BOOK ONE OF THE NULAPEIRON SEQUENCE

The first installment in a thoughtful, intricate far-future trilogy from British author Meaney (Paradox first appeared in 2000 in the UK).

Planet Nulapeiron consists of a single vast, multitiered city dug—though it’s not clear why—deep into the crust. Lords and Ladies rule, assisted by Oracles, barely human creatures whose consciousness exists simultaneously in both past and future; they can predict disasters that they’re unable or unwilling to avert. Young Tom Corcorigan lives on a low level with his craftsman father, Davraig, and beautiful, drug-addicted, dancer mother, Ranvera. While prowling the depths, Tom encounters a beautiful Pilot, one of a legendary group who travel to the stars via the fractal-dimension of mu-space. This Pilot, who likes Tom’s poetry, gives the boy a powerful crystal data-module before dying at the hands of the local militia. In secret, Tom activates the module: it tells him the story, 1,300 years in the past, of Pilot Kathy McNamara and her efforts to rescue her lover, Pilot Dart Mulligan, who becomes lost in mu-space. An Oracle, meanwhile, beguiles Tom’s mother and takes her away—after predicting that his father will die within 50 days. When Davraig dies, on schedule, Tom enters school—but soon, tricked into appearing to be a thief by his schoolmates, he’s sold to Lady Darinia as a servitor—after losing an arm as punishment. Sustained by his hatred and thirst for revenge, Tom trains his mind and his body, rises rapidly through the ranks, and eventually becomes a Lord himself. Only one problem remains: how might he kill a being that knows the future?

While making no claims to originality: fast-moving, distinctive, and sometimes spectacular.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59102-308-4

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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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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