A new take on life, love and war among extraterrestrial colonists that successfully clears the launch pad.

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Khamlok

In the second volume of Joseph’s (Colony Earth, 2012 ) fantasy saga, humanlike aliens try to adapt to settled life and interspecies marriage in Britain during the Iron Age, inciting conflict with each other as well as rival fiefdoms.

Derived more cleverly than one might expect from the “ancient astronauts” theories advanced by supermarket tabloids and such dubious scholars as Zecharia Sitchin and Erich Von Daniken, the Alterrans, a Nordic alien race, have technology bordering on magic; in fact, a quantum-physics spin on astrology is a legit science for them. After they establish a colony on Earth during the Iron Age, simultaneous catastrophes hit both worlds—perhaps astrological destiny. A comet strikes Earth and solar flares hit Alterra, indefinitely stranding the overwhelmingly male alien settlers in Albion (prehistoric Britain), with their energy sources, weapons and powers of rejuvenation waning. The best options for long-term survival are now intermarriage with humans and guiding the development of earthly civilization—an interaction that violates Alterran law. In this installment, set in and around the breakaway city of Khamlok, Alterra’s genetically predestined leader, Lil, witnesses the first generation of human-Alterran births, including his own children with his formidable bride, Alana, a survivor of Atlantis. Despite their lack of high-tech luxuries, the extraterrestrial colonists’ unaccustomed freedom from rigid Alterran society starts Lil’s men thinking for themselves, sewing seeds of internal dissent. Meanwhile, rival human fiefdoms (including a dark wizard) also struggle in the disaster’s wake, and they scheme against the “starmen” they envy and mistrust. The talky plot proceeds at a rather low boil until a pulse-quickening final act radically rocks Lil’s new world and sets invested readers on a countdown to the third volume. Fans of Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argo: Archives series might find this to be an interesting riff. While the large ensemble cast borders on being unwieldy, Joseph slyly references ancient mythology and archaeology of the Celts, Greeks, Sumerians and Egyptians, which never comes across as too heavy-handed or obvious.

A new take on life, love and war among extraterrestrial colonists that successfully clears the launch pad.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479377473

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

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 kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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