A bleak but intermittently humorous psychological novel with an engaging young female arsonist at its center.


A wildly eclectic SF novel set in futuristic San Francisco from Richardson.

Richardson’s vision of San Francisco in the year 2049 is not entirely unrecognizable. The internet is outlawed, and the police force has been partially robotized; yet people are still free to enjoy drunken reveling and general hedonism. The protagonist, Malibu Makimura, is a 19-year-old movie buff who attempts to make a living drawing caricatures at a women-only nightclub. Malibu has suffered from “suicidal ideation” in the past. By 2049, however, her life has improved (she’s no longer homeless, for one), although the earning potential is limited in her field of work. At the nightclub, she arouses the interest of a mysterious woman named Luciana, who some believe is a witch. She keeps a servant nicknamed Max, who resembles the character Max from 1950’s Sunset Boulevard. She also has enough money to pay certain people to do certain odd jobs for her. And, for some reason, she wants Malibu to burn down local cottages, sometimes with the residents still inside. Why cottages? Malibu gets an innate feeling that certain cottages need to be destroyed. The lives of these cottages “had run their course and they were begging to die.” At least that’s what the voices in her head tell her. It helps that Luciana will reward her handsomely for the service. But why cottages? That’s the novel‘s central mystery. That certain structures deserve a fiery death (at least in Malibu’s mind) also creates some darkly humorous undertones. At one point an inexplicable thought surfaces in Malibu’s head: “Yes, it wants to die,” says a voice in her head as she examines a cottage. Some aspects of Malibu’s life are less than inviting. Her father’s history with LSD is detailed, although this backstory proves to be an undramatic dead end. Likewise, a flashback relating to Malibu’s stay in a mental health facility is a detour that adds little substance to the narrative. This odd, fire-starting protagonist will keep the reader guessing throughout the novel.

A bleak but intermittently humorous psychological novel with an engaging young female arsonist at its center.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9784824151940

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Next Chapter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2023

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

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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

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.


From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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