The Circuit

EXECUTOR RISING

In this first installment of a new sci-fi saga, a brilliant inventor/statesman secretly plots against his own totalitarian regime with the assistance of an advanced robot.
In Bruno’s (Isinda: Curse of the Sleeping Dragon, 2013, etc.) vigorous, often violent narrative of interplanetary intrigue, Earth has been reduced to an uninhabitable cinder by mankind’s rapacious mining of the resource Gravitum, which enables deep-space travel. Humanity has therefore spread throughout the solar system, particularly to asteroids and gas-giant moons, using hyperspeed travel provided by a series of conduit-stations called “the Kepler Circuit.” Most of these spaceways and colonies have been taken over by the New Earth Tribune, an authoritarian empire which exerts its will using a religion focused on worshipping the tortured Homeworld. Cassius Vale is a war hero and scientist who’s prominent due to his authorship of the Tribune’s security precautions, but he’s never forgiven the Tribune for its offenses against him, particularly the loss of his son. Secretly and illegally, he’s constructed an advanced artificial intelligence robot called ADIM (Automated Dynamic Intelligence Mech), an appearance-shifting droid of frightening destructive prowess and ruthless logic who also serves as Vale’s surrogate offspring. The engaging narrative follows not only Cassius and ADIM, but also Sage Volus, a bionic beauty and zealous Tribune agent who’s also, as it happens, a valued piece in Cassius’ anti-Tribune conspiracy. ADIM seems to be a bit of a riff on the killer cyborgs of the Terminator films (though without the time-travel gimmick), and the story walks a line between vintage pulp and more hard-edged, combat-oriented sci-fi. But as a series launch pad, its plotline is lean and satisfying. That said, there do seem to be some gaps in the future-history mythology that are more frustrating than thought-provoking, especially regarding the 500-year-old Kepler Circuit, its origin and function. One assumes that Bruno will provide these details in forthcoming installments. As it is, this kickoff ends with lots of dangling subplots—not to mention a few equally errant limbs.
A hard-charging opener to a promising, if bloody, space-opera series.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1606594049

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Mundania Press LLC

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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