An imaginative and soundly executed SF morality tale.

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A STAND-IN FOR DYING

From the Brink of Life Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A man agrees to sell his body—literally—in exchange for a better life in this science fiction novel from Moskovitz (The Methuselarity Transformation, 2014, etc.), the first in a trilogy.

In 2041, Marcus Takana is approached by a woman named Terra, who makes an offer. A wealthy benefactor will provide for him for the rest of his life, giving him the money and access he needs to achieve his potential. However, when that benefactor’s body reaches the end of its mortal life, he and Marcus will switch bodies—resulting in Marcus’ immediate death. The process is known as Ambrosia Conversion. “So you're the devil and you've come to buy my soul?” he asks Terra. She responds: “Not your soul, Mr. Takana. You can keep that. It’s no use to us at all. It’s your body we want. And we’re prepared to pay you handsomely for it.” Marcus, who has nothing else in his life save his immaculate physique, agrees. The future inhabitant of Marcus’ body is Raymond “Ray” Mettler, who rose to celebrity with an invention that seemed as though it would save the environment—and who became a pariah when it began to destroy it instead. Marcus’ new life soon becomes an amazing success story involving love, children, and influence, so much so that he wonders: Should he really be expected to give all this up? In Marcus and Ray, Moskovitz has constructed an ingenious scenario probing the ethics of technology, class, and identity. His prose blends the technical and the emotional to create moments of unexpected beauty: “Terra airlifted him by drone to the edge of the city by the waterfront. It was still dark when she disappeared back into the sky. Marcus could hear water lapping against the seawall and a cacophony of barking sounds. ‘Seals.’ ” The author’s commitment to deeply developing his characters—as well hitting them with more than a few twists and turns—elevates what could have been merely an interesting thought experiment into a compelling novel with some emotional heft. The reader looks forward to additional fables of the high-tech future in the following volumes.

An imaginative and soundly executed SF morality tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73417-890-6

Page Count: 333

Publisher: Fluke Tale Productions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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