A multilayered, mildly provocative, B-level sci-fi adventure.




An anime-esque novel set in a dystopian world, with psychics and nanotechnology.

Uesugi’s offering, the prologue to a multibook series, is contemporary futurism. Sub-culture kids have exasperating hairstyles and wear ripped jeans and T-shirts. The bulk of the action takes place on a map that’s a dead ringer for Lower Manhattan, down to the borrowed street names: “Astor,” “Lafayette” and “Canal.” The difference is that in Uesugi’s world, two draconian coalition governments—the Atlantea Federation and the insurgent but equally severe Pacific Territories—rule global territories devastated by conflict. Fallout from “kedek” energy warfare saw the emergence of psychic abilities, teleportation, telepathy, and geothermal and mind–body manipulation. In the Pacific Territories, corporate and government powers work together, while psychics suffer systematic oppression if not capture and experimentation by a covert defense group called the Psi Faction. Psychic refugees collect in red-light slums, shoot up with ability-normalizing drugs and “hack” using bio-nanotechnologies to interface with computer systems through a jack implanted in the head. Flat but energetic storytelling, in a chapter structure similar to a manga, follows a dozen or so of these young psychics—mostly male, mostly gay—as they fight for survival, freedom and control of their abilities. Character backstories dictate behavior: Lino, son of the viceroy, is a Psi Faction conscript; Faid, a dashing, devil-may-care drug addict founds a psychic-hacker haven; and Blue, a test subject since early childhood, is transgender, erratic and easily disturbed. The book is visually and emotionally driven, written in bald, direct prose—short lines, no midsentence punctuation. The novel feels more like Full Metal Alchemist than Dragon Ball Z, and imagery evokes Ghost in the Shell and the 1995 flick Hackers. Fans of these titles should enjoy Uesugi’s book, with the possible caveat of its casual treatment of drugs and sex. The story’s political and technological foundations are vanilla for the genre, and Uesugi’s heroes, the psychics, can serve as proxy for any marginalized group, although many of them are gay, drug-using prostitutes. (Uesugi employs one of the more pleasant euphemisms for prostitute: “host.”) Maybe the hetero-testosterone world of Japanese inspired, combat-fueled fiction needs some strung-out, homosexual heroes. Uesugi’s are certainly powerful and courageous.

A multilayered, mildly provocative, B-level sci-fi adventure.

Pub Date: July 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462886746

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

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


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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A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.


A curious scientist stumbles on mysterious ruins in the opening chapters of this science fiction epic.

Things are really turning around for Kira Navárez. A xenobiologist, she’s finishing up a stint doing research on the large moon Adrasteia with a small team of other scientists, and her boyfriend, Alan, has just proposed to her. Instead of continuing to spend months apart, working on different planets and waiting until they can be together, they'll be able to ask their employers to make them part of a colony as a couple. As Kira performs a few routine last-minute checks before their team leaves the system, something strange catches her eye. She decides to check it out, just to be thorough, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient structure. When her curiosity gets the better of her and she touches a pedestal covered in dust, a bizarre black material flows out and covers her entire body. She passes out as she's being rescued by her team, and when she comes to, she seems to be fine, and the team reports her findings to the government. But soon a kind of strange, alien suit takes over her body, covering her with black material that lashes out violently against Alan and the other scientists, forming spikes that jump out from her skin. A military ship comes to collect what's left of the team and investigate the reports of an alien discovery. When an alien species attacks the ship, presumably because of Kira’s discovery, Kira will have to learn to harness the suit’s strange powers to defend herself and the rest of the human race. Paolini, best known for the YA epic fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, makes his adult debut in another genre that welcomes long page counts. This one clocks in at close to 900 pages, but the rollicking pace, rapidly developing stakes, and Paolini’s confident worldbuilding make them fly by. Perhaps not the most impressive prose, but a worthwhile adventure story.

A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76284-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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