A straightforward action fantasy held back by rough prose.


In Perks’ sci-fi debut, mercenaries track a rogue scientist who’s stolen a technologically advanced society’s most prized resource.

On the planet Stasis, two societies exist: one populated by Sunbathers, who live in permanent daylight, and the other by Darksiders, who live in eternal night. The two peoples used to help each other, with the Darksiders working as farmers and manufacturers for the Sunbathers. Then the daylight dwellers began using a rare energy source known as Ultimatter, leading them into a technological golden age, and they abandoned their nighttime cousins to cruel fate. But when someone steals the Ultimatter from the Sunbather capital, Minister Alter hires a group of Darksider hunters, famous for taking down the savage king of a race of gigantic, horned, wolflike creatures called the verron. These hunters—Wallace, Rodney, Jorge, and Henry—reluctantly agree to help those responsible for the Darksiders’ dismal lives, and even team up with Alter’s scientist niece, Halie, and a few other tech-savvy Sunbathers to find the Ultimatter. (Along the way, the four hunters love to bicker: “I could knock some of your teeth out.”) Minister Alter believes that the scorned scientist Olaf Heinemann, whose inventions were rejected by the Science Academy, is responsible; Sunbather tracking equipment has narrowed the location of his base to several fortified spots in Darksider territory. Olaf is aided, however, by a man named Tank, formerly of the High Guard Military. They’ve been using the Ultimatter to create new weapons that may be powerful enough to rule both sides of Stasis. Perks’ debut playfully situates futuristic elements, such as hover cars, on a primitive, Earth-like world similar to those found in the Final Fantasy video game series. His creatures, which include the branch-swinging “ioles” and lumbering herds of “phantions,” are at once familiar and enjoyably exotic. The fact that the Darksiders must wear special goggles while in bright light reinforces how the two peoples have diverged even on a physical level. The prose, unfortunately, screams out for stronger editorial guidance; typos, awkward grammar and punctuation errors abound, as in the line, “Clam down I’m sorry I couldn’t resist it.” The conclusion seems eager to retire the Darksiders, although it does leave room for further narrative.

A straightforward action fantasy held back by rough prose.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1489703637

Page Count: 256

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2015

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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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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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