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


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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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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