Dick's death a little over a week ago may mean that this will be his last published novel; and, ironically, it is the one in which he most completely abandons sciencefiction for mainstream theological writing. At the center of this hardworking, emotional, doleful drama—"a fictionalized biography of Bishop Pike of California"—is charismatic Bishop Tim Archer, a man of compulsive beliefs and singleminded enthusiasms. Viewed through the eyes of narrator/daughter-in-law Angel, Tim becomes involved with ailing, unstable, barbiturate-addict Kirstin (of whom Tim's son Jeff is also secretly enamored). And when some new pre-Christian documents come to light, Tim and Kirstin leave for Paris to pore over the translations—whence it emerges that the (c. 200 B.C.) documents incorporate sayings attributed to Jesus. . . plus (after John Allegro) proof of a sacred mushroom cult. So Tim's faith in Jesus-as-Messiah soon crumbles—and he becomes further undone when son Jeff (unable to cope with his incestuously-guilty feelings) kills himself: Tim and Kirstin will eventually claim that Jeff is signaling to them from the spirit world. Tim resigns from the church to join a think tank. Kirstin, while editing a dreadful book about Jeff's other-worldly activities, follows Jeff to suicide when she learns that she has cancer. And finally, shocked and distraught, Tim abandons mysticism, heading for Israel in search of the magic mushrooms, only to die in the desert. . . whereupon Kristin's likable, crazy son Bill announces that Tim's spirit has returned to share his (Bill's) brain. Thoughtful, elegantly constructed work, with lots of erudite conversations in the Dick manner—and though the characters remain shadows against their tangled, gloom & doom, religious/mystical backdrop, curious readers who recall Pike's mysterious career should find this a quietly stimulating, if thoroughly depressing, reconstruction.

Pub Date: May 28, 1982

ISBN: 0679734449

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Timescape/Pocket Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1982

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A rather one-dimensional but mostly satisfying child-soldier yarn which substantially extends and embellishes one of Card's better short stories (Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories, 1980).

Following a barely-defeated invasion attempt by the insect-like alien "buggers," a desperate Earth command resorts to genetic experimentation in order to produce a tactical genius capable of defeating the buggers in round two. (A counterinvasion has already been launched, but will take years to reach the buggers' home planet.) So likable but determined "Ender" Wiggins, age six, becomes Earth's last hope—when his equally talented elder siblings Peter (too vicious and vindictive) and Valentine (too gentle and sympathetic) prove unsuitable. And, in a dramatic, brutally convincing series of war games and computer-fantasies, Ender is forced to realize his military genius, to rely on nothing and no-one but himself. . . and to disregard all rules in order to win. There are some minor, distracting side issues here: wrangles among Ender's adult trainers; an irrelevant subplot involving Peter's attempt to take over Earth. And there'll be no suspense for those familiar with the short story.

Still, the long passages focusing on Ender are nearly always enthralling—the details are handled with flair and assurance—and this is altogether a much more solid, mature, and persuasive effort than Card's previous full-length appearances.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1984

ISBN: 0812550706

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1984

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