This collision of sci-fi and religion offers a nuanced, if dense, examination of the story of mankind.

Elijah

From debut author Rasch comes a sci-fi novel about a young man’s journey back in time and its subsequent impact on humanity.

In the distant future, Elijah, a member of the Centurion race, is a young man with great curiosity about his surroundings. Fortunately for him, his father, Aligious, isn’t one to skimp on explanations. After they discuss such topics as the finer points of wormholes (“They are a means of travel between two points of time and location, connecting and linking all that you see here in the galaxy”) and the intricacies of a game called Zobzball, Elijah and his father travel back in time through a complicated process. Their destination: the Earth’s moon, some billions of years in the past. During the journey, Aligious provides background information on the makeup of the human race, which has required the influence of outside forces to guide its evolution. According to Aligious, “the development of the planet Earth in its natural state over billions of years led to an under abundance of life (simple forms), and not intelligible communicative beings.” It has only been with the help of alien races that humanity has evolved, he explains, and so it’s managed to become “a less aggressive species.” What, though, does this all mean for Elijah? He becomes the prophet Elijah of biblical times, and his quest includes such miracles as raising the dead. As he runs “his own probability programs,” he investigates life even more deeply. This novel is full of technical jargon, and some portions prove to be particularly dense, as when Elijah asks his father to explain a finer point of engineering: “How is the bough distributaries constructed from within the confines of this underground enormous Herculean?” Some readers may feel lost, if not despondent, as Elijah delves into “quantum physics algorithms while simultaneously running data searches.” Nevertheless, the book is adept at exploring events of the past from the point of view of a highly advanced being, and it sheds new light on religious and historical events. Readers undeterred by detailed descriptions of technological advancements will uncover a starkly ambitious tale.   

This collision of sci-fi and religion offers a nuanced, if dense, examination of the story of mankind.  

Pub Date: July 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5049-0435-3

Page Count: 258

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2016

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

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DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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