A promising speculative debut that doesn’t feel as if it rolled off the usual robotics assembly line.


In Uddin’s debut SF novel, set in a near-future America, estranged siblings reunite upon discovering that their late mother’s brain has been kept functioning as part of a transhumanism experiment.

In 2030, many jobs in the United States have been taken over by artificial intelligence. Many AI breakthroughs have arisen from the innovations of genius Jay Edison, who’s a divisive figure for siblings Aisha and Sam Malik. Aisha’s public relations position at a massive food corporation (which has had mass layoffs thanks to robotics) places her in the orbit of Edison’s lab. Its “Brain Reinvigoration Project” can keep a brain temporarily functioning after death, providing an imperfect software simulation of the owner’s original personality. This has been done, with Aisha’s permission, with her and Sam’s mother, Maura, an American woman who married a Muslim man from India. Maura’s problematic parenting strongly affected Aisha and long tormented Sam, the latter of whom is now unfocused and drawn to questionable social causes, such as those of Zain, a Chicago drug kingpin who styles himself a neighborhood defender, and the Neo-Luddites, anti–AI agitators strongly influenced by the Unabomber manifesto. Aisha is smarting from her impending divorce from her wife, but she wants Sam to alleviate his own psychic pain by confronting Maura’s brain and meeting Edison in person. However, Sam knows that Maura has long guarded a family secret that would deeply injure Aisha. Despite future-shock trimmings and occasional action thriller elements, Uddin’s novel is never formulaic, focusing mainly on emotions and how relationships are affected by technology. Characters are complicated in intriguing ways; the Ray Kurzweil–like Edison—a cheery, wizened genius who beholds Zain’s empire with Panglossian, optimistic delight—is perhaps the most straightforward figure. A final character-related twist even excuses the story’s potential shortcomings. Other laudable touches are its pleasant avoidance of modern-day topics that other SF writers have pounded into the ground and a plethora of obscure pop-culture references, including a paean to the neglected 1984 film TheIce Pirates.

A promising speculative debut that doesn’t feel as if it rolled off the usual robotics assembly line.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 979-8986172002`

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Apperception Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

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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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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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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.


From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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