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A FASHION WEEK SPACE ADVENTURE

A futuristic tale with clever, gratifying worldbuilding that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the sequel.

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In this debut SF adventure, androids abduct humans as part of a diabolical plan that threatens humanity.

By the late 24th century, humans have colonized Luna and Mars. They’re also living considerably longer, courtesy of aging cessation and “re-youthing.” Yet some things remain (relatively) the same, like Space Fashion Week in 2399. Former supermodel Samantha covers the event on her popular Holo show, Samantha! But this year, a Designer-bot Optimized for Shopping interrupts the Chanel show by asking for Sam. This robot, named simply DOS, claims Sention sims (essentially androids) have kidnapped his owner, Freddie Waverly, with plans to abduct fashion editor Pablo Starr as well. Most write off DOS’ interruption as a publicity stunt by Sam, who’s also an inventor, though few people take her seriously. But Sam believes DOS’ allegation is valid, especially after a search for her missing friend, Kiki Hong, points to her pal as another possible abductee. With help from her AI, Digital Intelligence with Voice Activation, and DOS, Sam tries convincing Pablo that he’s in danger. But Pablo is a recluse, tormented by his fiancee Air’s unexplained disappearance a century ago. Still, it’s soon apparent to everyone that something sinister is afoot. For starters, someone or something attempts to delete Sartoria, the first sentient AI and Pablo’s creation. This may be the same culprit who has evidently hacked the Sention sims, a misdeed that Sam, Pablo, and others ultimately link to a doomsday cult. But what’s really happening is far deadlier than they’ve foreseen.

Lopez’s series opener is a dense, lengthy introduction to a future universe. This includes a stable narrative foundation for character development in this story, with a potential for further evolution in the sequel. All AIs, for example, enjoy the same rights as humans, and Sartoria, despite Pablo’s having created her, has been living independently for some time. Similarly, characters are well established and dynamic. Even Rylie Cade, Sam’s co-host, who clearly wants her own Holo show, is a delightfully snooty antagonist who proves crucial in the final act. The tale tends to favor characters’ frequent discourse—backstories or a plan for confronting villains—over accelerating this installment’s plot. Nevertheless, there are surprising turns, particularly as the heroes get closer to unraveling what’s behind the kidnappings. Thankfully, Lopez avoids narrative lulls by dropping readers into the unknown world and allowing exposition or backstory to unfold organically without reducing the momentum. At the same time, readers won’t be lost, as the author makes much of the unfamiliar relatable: Super-Ping is a notable social networking site à la Twitter while Lux, despite few specifics, is unquestionably a form of currency. There’s also a fair amount of humor, mostly through visual descriptions: “Pablo sat in a white Eames-inspired chair in front of the main viewer, with a digital control panel in the right arm of the chair. An identical chair hovered to its immediate left, with a ‘BROKEN’ sign affixed to it.” Despite a thorough wrap-up, there’s much unresolved by the end and plenty of material for the next volume.

A futuristic tale with clever, gratifying worldbuilding that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the sequel.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-69339-739-4

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

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

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

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

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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