An atomic blast of a yarn. Hamilton in peak form and absolutely not to be missed.

A NIGHT WITHOUT STARS

Hamilton’s latest (a relatively slender 704 pages) brings to a furious boil the two-book saga (The Abyss Beyond Dreams, 2014) describing human colony planet Bienvenido’s unremitting battle against the hostile alien Fallers.

Set in Hamilton’s far-future Commonwealth, fans and newbies alike can jump pretty much right into any book in the series (which come complete with an always-helpful timeline). Bienvenido, hurled into intergalactic space and millions of light-years from contact with the Commonwealth, suffers a constant rain of Faller eggs which absorb people and produce perfect Faller copies, all programmed to commit genocide on humanity. (This existential threat scenario does require the aliens to be utterly single-minded. Imagine all the inhabitants of Connecticut totally intent on invading Massachusetts and nobody wants to stop for ice cream.) As a result, Bienvenido’s government is heavily militarized and fearful of its own minority population, known as Elite, who’ve retained the superior brains and enhancements of their Commonwealth forebears. A few individuals like the Warrior Angel survive independently and possess advanced Commonwealth technology. Then astronaut Ry Evine—his mission is to explode the orbiting “trees” that are the source of Faller eggs—unwittingly frees a trapped Commonwealth vessel that crash-lands on Bienvenido carrying, of all things, a baby. Reclusive Elite forest warden Florian stumbles upon the capsule and the baby and takes responsibility for the child—who feeds and grows at an astonishing rate and soon exhibits highly advanced knowledge and abilities. Security officer Chaing, secretly an Elite, believes the Faller threat to be far greater than the government will admit and wants to contact the Warrior Angel for help; instead, while fearing betrayal at the hands of Jenifa, his fanatical assistant, he’s charged with capturing the child. All this roars relentlessly along in utterly mesmerizing style, with edge-of-the-seat plotting, thrilling action, and knife-edge tension that will leave readers gasping.

An atomic blast of a yarn. Hamilton in peak form and absolutely not to be missed.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54722-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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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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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

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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