This perceptive take on the reality TV–in-the-future premise deserves boffo ratings.


Bruno’s SF novel follows the struggling inhabitants of a dilapidated space ark who are unwitting players in a cruel, hidden-camera reality show.

In the year 2450, the Ignis is an aging, ramshackle spaceship fashioned from an asteroid and presumably carrying approximately 10,000 refugees from a destroyed Earth to a colony world in the Tau Ceti star system. Every fragile resource, including birth, is highly regulated, so it’s impressive that a girl called Mission, conceived outside regulations and genetic assignments, survives to adulthood and blends in. There’s a bigger secret, however: Humankind, back on Earth, is still around. Although beset by floods, millions on 25th-century “High Earth” enjoy an idyllic lifestyle featuring robots, virtual-reality technology, and other media entertainment. The Ignis, it turns out, is still in orbit around Earth, providing a continuous hidden-camera feed for Ignis: Live, a 50-year-old reality TV show transmitting the real-time lives (and deaths) of the ship’s desperate inhabitants, including Mission. Asher Reinhart, chief director of content for the show, has watched Mission’s struggles and developed a strong emotional attachment to her. When he learns that a disaster is planned for the ship to boost sagging viewership, he intervenes to protect Mission from harm. This transgression backfires, putting Mission in even more danger and sending Asher into the anarchic Outskirts zone. Bruno is not the first, nor will he be the last, SF author to address reality television, but he mines rich veins of meaning in this stand-alone work. He also doesn’t skimp on the action, which includes grotesque cyborgs, but he also instills deep thought into his premise. There are familiar themes regarding the greed and ego of media elite and the fickle flukiness of celebrity, but the heart of the tale is an exploration of the contrast between the tech-saturated lifestyles of High Earth’s people and the hardscrabble ordeals that the Ignis’ courageous inhabitants encounter. The author also scores points for not aping the landmark twist of Daniel F. Galouye’s 1964 virtual-reality novel Simulacron-3, which also involved puppet masters monitoring a synthetic society.

This perceptive take on the reality TV–in-the-future premise deserves boffo ratings.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949890-72-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Aethon Books, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 84

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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

Did you like this book?

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...


This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?