Newcomers to Allen’s work will find this sci-fi-romance to be quite an adventure.

UNIVERSAL TIME

A single mom’s life is turned upside down when she encounters a man from outer space in Allen’s (Beaufort 1849, 2011, etc.) wildly imaginative novel.

Cait has a full plate managing her job at an affordable housing foundation in San Francisco and raising two young daughters, and her ex-husband has an annoying habit of dropping off his new baby for her to watch. One day, a strange man who seems furious with her abducts her on the street, and she’s initially terrified. He introduces himself as Atraxis and says that he believes that she’s in possession of something called a “Tamaranth”—and he wants it back. She’s in his spaceship en route to his home planet of Tivolea when he tells her this, so she can’t exactly tell him he’s crazy. She finally convinces herself that she’s having an elaborate dream; in fact, though, she’s participating in formal Tivolean rituals that result in her getting married to Atraxis. Happily, she’s soon returned to her life on Earth, but her new spouse won’t leave her alone. Instead, he moves into an upstairs apartment and becomes a constant presence in her life. Soon, he offers to help teach her girls, who are learning little at their ineffective school, and even provides Cait with a supercomputer to handle the housework and cooking—all while managing his own job as an arbitrator of interplanetary conflicts. Still, Cait resists his charms and efforts to help at every turn. Luckily, she’s able to turn to her ex-sister-in-law, Nancy, for a dose of sanity—that is, until Nancy becomes smitten with Atraxis’ ex-brother-in-law from an altogether different planet and things really start to get complicated. Allen creates an intricately detailed, remarkably inventive universe encompassing alien languages, physiology, and culture,  as well as advanced technologies. She populates this vivid world with characters that are both layered and believable. Some readers may chafe a bit at the somewhat geeky sci-fi humor (“to her you are as strange as the gas cozzili of Franddon”) as well as Cait’s dogged romantic refusal of Atraxis, even though he’s clearly a catch. That said, most will readily gloss over these minor issues to find out what happens next.

Newcomers to Allen’s work will find this sci-fi-romance to be quite an adventure.

Pub Date: March 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0967178431

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Cabbages and Kings Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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