Contains many interesting ideas that, unfortunately, all seem to be from completely different stories told from different...

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DUSK'S WHISPER

THE FIRST LANTHANIDE

Nivloc’s debut novel is equal parts science fiction, dom/sub erotica and defense of the chiropractic arts.

Dr. Barus Lanthan has returned from a trip around the world after winning the lottery, and he’s uncertain what to do with his life in the wake of such a significant change. Fortunately, he’s quickly introduced to his friend’s younger sister, Dusk, a supergenius exhibitionist submissive who reads less like an actual character and more like a fan fiction version of what all women should be like. But, then, all the characters in the book are less people than collections of tics haphazardly thrown together and given little reason for why they do what they do. The main villain is simply the villain because he lives next door to Lanthan for far too long in the novel’s plot, while Dusk seemingly falls for Lanthan because he’s the main character and that’s what she’s supposed to do. For a book billed as science fiction, science-fiction elements don’t show up until over a third of the novel has passed, and what leads up to it is a portrayal of two people apparently falling into a relationship sparked with BDSM and other kinky sex games simply because they have nothing better to do. (At one point, Lanthan goes to the library to research dominant-submissive relationships, sucking all of the fun and sexiness out of the concept.) There are some interesting ideas about string theory and extra dimensions, but Nivloc sits on them for too long, and by the time they show up, they mostly seem to come out of the blue. Sure, we’ve gotten hints that Dusk is some sort of genius, but soon, she’s building secret government projects in the basement like it was a normal occurrence. On top of everything else, Nivloc includes a narrator whose presence in the novel is so sporadic that it’s easy to forget about her before she randomly inserts herself in the narrative to declaim about sexual attitudes among the ancient Greeks or the like.

Contains many interesting ideas that, unfortunately, all seem to be from completely different stories told from different perspectives.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4401-3650-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2011

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

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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If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be...

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with.

In the northern U.S. of the mid-1950s, as depicted in this merrily macabre pastiche by Ruff (The Mirage, 2012, etc.), Driving While Black is an even more perilous proposition than it is now. Ask Atticus Turner, an African-American Korean War veteran and science-fiction buff, who is compelled to face an all-too-customary gauntlet of racist highway patrolmen and hostile white roadside hamlets en route from his South Side Chicago home to a remote Massachusetts village in search of his curmudgeonly father, Montrose, who was lured away by a young white “sharp dresser” driving a silver Cadillac with tinted windows. At least Atticus isn’t alone; his uncle George, who puts out annual editions of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, is splitting driving duties in his Packard station wagon “with inlaid birch trim and side paneling.” Also along for the ride is Atticus’ childhood friend Letitia Dandridge, another sci-fi fan, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as the Turners. It turns out this road trip is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre chimerical adventures ensnaring both the Turner and Dandridge clans in ancient rituals, arcane magical texts, alternate universes, and transmogrifying potions, all of which bears some resemblance to the supernatural visions of H.P. Lovecraft and other gothic dream makers of the past. Ruff’s ripping yarns often pile on contrivances and overextend the narratives in the grand manner of pulp storytelling, but the reinvented mythos here seems to have aroused in him a newfound empathy and engagement with his characters.

If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229206-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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