Nuclear holocaust, savagery, and space aliens converge on Cleveland in a competent start to a five-part series.

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From the Clash of the Aliens series , Vol. 1

After a nuclear strike ravages the world, suburbanites in northeast Ohio struggle in a harsh new environment of subsistence-survival and murderous gangs—unaware that an alien spaceship is en route.

Author Wood (Trash, 2018, etc.) begins his sci-fi pentalogy with a narrative that is unequally split between pulpy post-apocalyptic action-survival and alien first-contact. In the near future, Islamist fanatics in Tadzhikistan launch an all-out nuclear strike using high-yield weapons and electromagnetic pulse bombs bought from Russia and China (the terrorists have no compunction about firing the warheads right back at Russia and China). All global communications cease, and most major world cities are atomized, though the worst of the thermonuclear holocaust spares much of the American Midwest. Still, with food shipments, goods, and government authority all but extinct, civilization quickly degrades into gang looting and barbarism. Just to the west of Cleveland, Taylor MacPherson is a mild-mannered engineer, reluctantly thrust into a role of local protector and leader of his community when area biker gangs and lowlifes start raping and pillaging. Successfully beating back marauders with improvised weapons and barricades, Taylor and his fellow suburbanites begin the task of restarting organized society, with currency, taxes, and courts. Meanwhile, however, in deep space, a bizarre, egg-laying hermaphroditic species called the Qu’uda have just detected their first transmissions from Earth (which they call Kota). The possibility of a habitable planet—strategically important now that the Qu’uda are in a state of hostilities with another space-going race—sparks a long-distance expedition to the Kota system. Wood tells his prepper yarn in effective, get-the-job-done prose reminiscent of Alistair MacLean. Sympathy is generated for the hero and his cohorts, and Taylor is a regular-fellow type surprised by how quickly he accommodates violence and survivalist pragmatism when he must. As thinly shaded as the ET stuff is in this kickoff, the question of whether the Qu’uda will turn out friend or foe here makes for a tantalizing one in the view of the saga. Northeast Ohio readers and armchair Cleveland tourists (if any) will be interested in the ways Wood works the geography of that much-besmirched city into the plotline.

Nuclear holocaust, savagery, and space aliens converge on Cleveland in a competent start to a five-part series.

Pub Date: June 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-387-33591-6

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Faucett Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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