A considerable novel populated by a cast of memorable characters, who enhance the Mars backdrop instead of depending on it.

THE RED

A young man on a Mars colony evades corrupt agents of Earth and learns the truth of his origins in the author’s debut sci-fi/action novel.

Thom is like any other teen—he excels at sports and is contemplating his future. He’s also living on Mars. But after his grandfather dies, everything changes. Thom, a possible suspect, is questioned by authorities. Things only get worse. Two men try to kidnap him and kill his friends, and Thom learns that a bounty hunter, Myron, has been enlisted to track him down. All of his woes can be traced to a war with Martian natives known as the Velitrans, and Thom finds unlikely allies in fighting the Eua, the unquestionably shady government of Earth. Marsh’s plot speeds along with plenty of action scenes, which include one when Elaine—the sister of one of Thom’s friends—escapes captivity and helps Rosha, who leads Thom, et al., to the Velitrans. But it’s the environment and characters that make the book a standout. Mars is a well-established home. It has its own sport, called "endurance," which is essentially a race between teams armed with electrically charged sticks; its own vehicles, such as a “floater”; and its own profanity—the term “fugging” and its variants are a popular word choice. Characters are likable all around, even the villains—the world-weary Detective Cooper-Fonda is so desperate for control he gives himself the call sign of “Boss.” Desmond, “Desi” to his friends, is perhaps the book’s best character. He supplies much of the humor, incessantly complaining that people don’t bother to learn his name, but he’s also a skilled programmer, rewriting a com’s operating system in mere minutes, and has ties to the main plot—Myron grabs Desi first before looking for Thom. The work includes enjoyable add-ons like a bad guy identified by a discernible wound (a defensive bite from Elaine), as well as a bulky second-to-last chapter, with multiple characters converging for a searing action set piece.

A considerable novel populated by a cast of memorable characters, who enhance the Mars backdrop instead of depending on it.

Pub Date: July 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478279068

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2012

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

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PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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