RED LIGHTNING by John Varley
Kirkus Star


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A highly satisfying sequel to Red Thunder (2004).

In Red Thunder, eccentric genius Jubal invented the free-energy “Squeezer” technology, and his cousin Travis uses it to power a low-budget mission to Mars. Now, 23 years later, humanity has begun to settle the Red Planet and space travel has become common. Life on Mars is pretty good for 17-year-old Ray Garcia-Strickland, even if he doesn't seem to know it, but that all changes when an object impacts with the Earth, causing a massive tsunami. Ray's family and some friends travel to Earth to help relatives they have there. They experience horror after horror, seeing a devastated Florida as they reunite with family friend Travis and together travel to rescue Ray's grandmother. In the wake of this tragedy, Jubal—who is considered the most important man in the world since only he truly understands his invaluable Squeezer technology—goes missing. Three months after Ray and company return to Mars, a fleet from Earth invades, then questions Ray, Travis and the others concerning Jubal’s whereabouts. The central mysteries of the novel concern what exactly happened to Jubal, as well as the nature of the object that struck the Earth. To reveal answers would spoil much of the fun, but suffice it to say that though the plot elements are seemingly disparate, they do all come together in the end.

Much more than a simple adventure story, full of poignant moments and relevant social commentary.

Pub Date: April 4th, 2006
ISBN: 0-441-01364-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Ace/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2006


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