VISITORS FROM OZ

THE WILD ADVENTURES OF DOROTHY, THE SCARECROW, AND THE TIN WOODMAN IN THE UNITED STATES

First-novelist/polymath Gardner (essays:The Night Is Large, 1996, etc.) undertakes a sequel to L. Frank Baum’s Oz story (on the occasion of its 100th birthday) and comes up with a winner. Using simple prose and similarly simple dialogue, Gardner constructs a riddle and solves it: Producer Samuel Gold has filmed The Emerald City of Oz because he truly believes Oz is a real place and so has sent an E-mail to Glinda, the good witch who rules Oz, asking if Dorothy and some her friends might not like to visit Earth again and go on tour for his animated movie. The big problem: Glinda has removed Oz to a parallel universe, away from the influx of humans. So how can Dorothy get from Oz to Earth and back again? Only Professor Wogglebug, T.E.H.M. (Thoroughly Educated Highly Magnified) can manage this, which he does by having Ku-Klip (who made the Tin Woodman) build two life-size Moebius strips to form a Klein Bottle, which will deposit the travelers on Earth. On the way, they find the Entrance to Wonderland irresistible and have a chat with the White Rabbit, then meet Tenniel’s pink caterpillar, the Ugly Duchess (actually a sweet-tempered, gorgeous young woman wearing a rubber mask because Lewis Carroll’s readers expect it of her), the White Knight, Humpty Dumpty, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and other Wonderland folk. When the Klein Bottle is stolen, Private Detective Sheerluck Brown (a large brown bear in a deerstalker cap) recovers it from the giant Big Jim Foote. Arriving in moonlit Central Park, they are interviewed by Time and the New York Times’s science editor, then appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. When they are beset by mobsters, Glinda saves them by teleporting Waters of Oblivion to Earth. Before returning home, Dorothy & Co. tour the bookstores for Martin Gardner’s Visitors from Oz. Deserves the Cosmotic Greatheart Medal of Oz from the Wizard. (N.B.: Probably not harmful for children.)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-19353-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more