A tart and fluid SF view of a nightmare future dominated by canned beverages.

ORANGE CITY

Near a bleak, dystopian future America, an offshore City exists, run by a grotesque cyborg, serving as a supposed rehabilitation haven for society’s outcasts.

In his SF novel, Goldberg vaguely sketches a mad, bad, and dangerous future world created by the aftermath of the “War To End All Wars.” Poverty, crime, the maimed, and the deformed are rampant in “Amercyana,” but at some point, a solution, of sorts, takes shape via the construction of The City, an offshore community that welcomes society’s most desperate individuals. Hidden from outside eyes by hologram projections, the place is more a strange, surreal simulation of a city than the real thing. The metropolis’s inhabitants have predetermined roles and are universally camera-monitored by “the Man,” a freakish, multilimbed cyborg fixed in place in a cyclopean tower dominating the skyline. But the Man—a Stalin admirer—is no therapeutic, healing entity. Graham Weatherend, an abused, imprisoned orphan, has been brought to The City by Scout E, one of the Man’s many hirelings. Formerly known as Edmond Edwards, Scout E is a conscience-wracked wife killer who traded his dismal lot for a lofty position in The City doing the cyborg’s bidding. Now, the two citizens are installed in The City’s lone remaining advertising agency, hyping a soda called orange Pow! Graham becomes a specialist at writing slogans for the strangely addictive brew, and suddenly he sees orange colors and themes everywhere, becoming a literal slave to the refreshment. Until, abruptly and arbitrarily, green lime Pow! makes its overwhelming appearance...and then a blue-raspberry Pow!...and then....What seems a seriocomic, semihallucinatory, semicryptic dark satire of Madison Avenue guys (with prosthetic limbs and other body horrors) ultimately grows into seriously dystopic and violent stuff. Neatly paced and escalating like a sinister bar crawl, the novel gives readers the flavor of Philip K. Dick and perhaps a little Kafka and J.G. Ballard in the mixology (though the book’s back cover mentions George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and the TV series Lost). A final twist at the end leaves the aftertaste of a promised sequel, in which some of the big narrative questions posed by this zesty installment may be answered. We’ll drink to that.

A tart and fluid SF view of a nightmare future dominated by canned beverages.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64921-878-0

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 61

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more