Wonderfully written, surprisingly varied apocalyptic tales.

THIS WAY TO THE END TIMES

CLASSIC TALES OF THE APOCALYPSE

In a substantial anthology of stories about the end of the world, editor Silverberg (Tales of Majipoor, 2013, etc.) brings together works by both classic science-fiction writers and contemporary authors.

The 21 stories here have a pleasing range of styles and contexts, offering a much-appreciated texture to the potentially dispiriting common theme of apocalypse and post-apocalypse. The oldest hail from the early 1900s (Jules Verne started writing “The Eternal Adam” in 1904), and the most recent story (“Prayers to the Sun By a Dying Person” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro) has its debut in this book. Each story is preceded by a short introduction in which Silverberg gives readers a chatty and often charming tidbit of the author’s biography and explains why he chose the story. The reader learns not only that James Tiptree Jr. was the pen name of Alice Sheldon, but also that she once worked for the CIA; that Malcolm Edwards only ever published one story but is a celebrated editor; and that Silverberg has no compunction about including multiple stories by certain authors, or stories by himself, or a story by his wife (“Three Days After” by Karen Haber). The sense of genuine personal delight and admiration as a guiding editorial principle lends the anthology the friendly air of someone showing off a beloved and much-studied collection, despite the often dire content of the stories themselves. The stories are uniformly good and frequently excellent. Only five are by women, but those five are genuinely exciting, and while a more diverse group of authors might be desired, the variety of ways in which these stories choose to end the world offers a great deal—nightmarish, funny, lonely, or hopeful—for the imagination.

Wonderfully written, surprisingly varied apocalyptic tales.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941110-47-8

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Three Rooms Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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