Inventive, intelligent sci-fi about humans grappling with an oceanic world.

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Telonaut

From the Teloverse Series series , Vol. 1

In this debut novel, a Postbox transports future government auditor Sero Novak to a colony on a water planet.

With a duplicate body printed for him by a Postbox and his mind uploaded into his newly made brain, Novak is mentally connected with the rest of the Race—humanity—by a NeuroVision memory linkup. His vital mission is to learn what has happened to the colonists on the water planet NineDee and how their efforts to tame the primitive ocean-bound world have progressed. As Novak explores NineDee and gets to know the people who live there, he encounters the dangers of the indigenous life forms and the environment—and uncovers weirder and weirder secrets about the colonists themselves, culminating in a terrible revelation that forces him to take desperate action. With humans having survived an economic apocalypse to rebuild a better society, but one still with deep-rooted dissension and selfishness, will they carry their petty desires and desperate wishes across the galaxy? And will Novak be able to act in the best interests of all of humanity in the face of his own slipping ideals as well as the destructive passions of the people sent to build their outposts among the distant stars? Tyson makes ambitious choices and trusts the reader to be smart enough to follow his narrative. While the characters are human and three-dimensional and the dialogue clean but slightly didactic, the pace is measured and the setting descriptions are complex and challenging. Little effort is made to clarify terms and ideas as they are first presented, and readers must infer and learn as they progress. Luckily, the demands made on readers are well-rewarded. But given the dense approach to worldbuilding in the novel, it is difficult to know if the author’s lapses into contemporary diction and behavior are virtues or flaws (“She says she feels the same about me. You’ll see, Minnus. We just…pop!”). Other contemporary pop-culture references (“frak,” “Gigantor,” etc.) are jarring and have less potential defense.

Inventive, intelligent sci-fi about humans grappling with an oceanic world.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5351-6397-2

Page Count: 524

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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