A compelling and affecting tale of humanity’s daring interplanetary steps.



A sci-fi debut tells the story of the first manned mission to Saturn.

In the very near future, the virtuosic but fringe German scientist Derya Terzi—who has spent the last decade trying unsuccessfully to convince the scientific community that there is a white dwarf hidden behind the nearby star Arcturus, the inevitable collapse of which will destroy Earth—turns out to be right. This new existential threat causes a dying American senator to write a letter to the newspapers of the world calling for the private sector to do what he believes NASA no longer can—launch a daring campaign to make humans an interplanetary species: “What we need is a private mission, where failure is not a congressional investigation. A private mission of heroes willing to take immense risks for the greater good of humankind.” Who are those heroes? Terzi, for one, but also Jimmy Egger, an astronaut and Yosemite Valley BASE jumper haunted by apocalyptic visions; Sophia Park, an astrobiologist anxious to puncture the Great Silence and discover extraterrestrial life; Yi Meng, a robotics entrepreneur from Inner Mongolia; and Sergei Lazarev, a cosmonaut and the youngest ever commander of the International Space Station. For the crew of the spaceship Shackleton, the mission is so big it’s almost ridiculous: traveling to Saturn and its moons in search of alien life and potential homes for humanity—and unlike the moon landing, they can’t all expect to make it home alive. Landau’s measured prose is adept at evoking the considerable beauty of the physical world: “The shiny domes of the Paranal Observatory were silhouetted against a sea of clouds below extending past the horizon, burying the Pacific Ocean. The Sun had sunk almost half an hour ago; the sky was a starless palette of light grays to dark violets, a grand drape before the show.” In addition to telling a truly immersive story—and one so realistic that the stakes always feel sky high—the author continues the tradition of sci-fi meant to spur not just the imagination, but action toward a better future as well. He asks readers not simply to seriously consider the utility of space exploration, but to also remember how dangerous the journey will be—and how essential it is to the human condition.

A compelling and affecting tale of humanity’s daring interplanetary steps.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-72896-465-2

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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