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GENERATIONS

Extraordinary space travelers propel this dense but undeniably enthralling journey.

An archivist unearths possible corruption—and worse—aboard a colony spaceship headed toward a habitable planet in Josephides’ SF thriller.

Sandrine Liet lives among thousands of other passengers on the Thetis, a multilevel, multigenerational ship that’s been traveling from Old Earth for nearly two centuries. It’s headed for one of two potential planets for “Resettlement”—a decision that must be finalized soon. Until then, 29-year-old Sandrine, as a Senior Archivist, continues to oversee the Code of Law on a ship that hasn’t experienced violent crime in four generations. She handles an accusation of attempted extortion from the Thetis’ leader, PrimoSebastian Anderson, although the accusation becomes suspicious when Anderson later tells her to forget all about it. Rather than dropping the issue, “protocol-purist” Sandrine tracksthe missing, would-be extortionist: a scientist named Almaz Bashiri, who asserts that Anderson may be involved in an attempt to weaponize his research. What exactly the leader is up to—along with his wife, Cassidi, who heads the Public Health Security division—is a bit murky. Later, data goes missing in an archive system that was supposed to have undeletable files, and the Andersons try to sully Sandrine’s name in the media. She pieces together a conspiracy that involves deceit, political corruption, and maybe even murder, although she’ll need rock-solid evidence to prove her case.

Josephides packs a lot of worldbuilding and backstory into this novel, starting by laying out the tower-shaped Thetis. Copious levels house residential areas, the Archive office, and the Sensory Farm, which is primarily used for educational purposes. Although the pleasant Level 19, where Sandrine lives, provides her with solace, the nerve-wracking lower levels appear to harbor dark secrets. Many gleefully curious details surrounding the Thetisgradually come to light over the course of the novel, most of them tied into the growing conspiracy. For example, alleged extremists called Eternists champion space habitats over planet-bound ones, and Sandrine’s hacker ex-partner, Kilian Ngo, was involved in activities that got Sandrine’s permission to have children revoked “for only associating with him.” Kilian is just one of several memorable members of the cast, which also includes Sandrine’s boss, Nyasha Woo, who treats her like a family member. Sandrine, however, is the most entertaining character—she takes guff from no one and stays cool in nearly every situation. For instance, when one of Anderson’s loyal right-hand men responds to one of his directions in her presence, Sandrine remarks, “Good dog.” The author explains the distant-future tech thoroughly and intelligently, from the encrypted chip implanted into each passenger’s finger to the Thetis’ manner of propulsion. In contrast, the investigative side of things is deliberately cryptic; characters either avoid directly answering questions or engage in prolonged discussions before offering any elucidation. For much of the novel, Sandrine is baffled, and most readers will likely be, too. Nevertheless, the ending provides a welcome and gratifying resolution.

Extraordinary space travelers propel this dense but undeniably enthralling journey.

Pub Date: April 7, 2024

ISBN: 9798988667940

Page Count: 455

Publisher: Pygmalion Media

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2024

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DEVOLUTION

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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PROJECT HAIL MARY

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

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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. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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