Complex scientific notions in a story format prove equally entertaining and perceptive.


A Sickness in Time

In this sci-fi thriller, preventing a near-future plague may simply entail getting help by sending messages into the past.

Josh Scribner was a mere teen when he conceived the Beetle, a brain implant to treat seizures or neurological disorders. By 2039, the now-billionaire has come to the terrifying conclusion that Beetles may not be remedying such conditions but actually causing them. Each new implant makes the ailment worse, processing loads of data that affect even brains without Beetles and making everyone sick, including Josh’s daughter, Cierra. Fortunately, his physicist pal Min-Jun Dan has a potential solution: use available technology to send a metal marker back in time and establish communication with someone. In 2015, Air Force veteran and pilot trainer Maria Kerrigan stumbles upon a marker dated 1999 and addressed to Dr. Weldon Qualls at Princeton University. Qualls, a published supporter of time travel, enlists Maria’s assistance, not yet aware of what they’ll be preventing. Further correspondence (P.O. boxes and coordinates for new markers) confirms that an attempt to alter the future is unsuccessful. But there’s something bigger at play, as Josh suspects that some deaths in 2039 may not be from the Beetle itself but active assassinations. At the same time, Maria and Qualls, still in 2015, could be in danger. Thomas and Thurkettle’s (Seeing by Moonlight, 2015) time-traveling novel deviates from most other tales of this subgenre by focusing more on concept than action. This preserves simplicity throughout, even as Josh and Min-Jun discuss “other version[s] of now,” slight changes in their own lives as a result of Maria’s missions. The story also introduces a fascinating dilemma: can individuals retain memories from prior versions of themselves? Maria is initially more engaging than the plot, mercilessly tormented by deaths she caused by piloting drones and conversing with “the Voice” in her head. But the twisty second half is pure exhilaration, adding a clear-cut villain and new, essential characters. The authors’ prose is, like the book overall, intelligent and comprehensive, especially with chic terminology like “gravity wake,” a field created by accelerated particles, the essence of traversing space-time.

Complex scientific notions in a story format prove equally entertaining and perceptive.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-4835-7621-3

Page Count: 302

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2016

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


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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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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