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TIME AND TIME AGAIN

Revolutionary time-travel tales, if you can overlook the fossilized characters.

A career-spanning collection of time-travel tales from Silverberg, the 2003 Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Silverberg has compiled his favorite time-travel stories published between 1955 and 2007, and in it, he seemingly leaves no “what if?” unanswered. “Needle in a Timestack,” first published in Playboy in 1983, engagingly explores what could happen if the past were altered and people could, at least for a few hours, remember their lives before everything changed. “Against the Current,” from a 2007 issue of the magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction, asks what would happen if a man simply became unmoored from time and began to inexplicably drift into the past. The 1983 novella Homefaring (arguably the most thought-provoking and compelling story in the bunch) asks what would happen if a time traveler catapulted millions of years into the future—so far that humans were extinct? And what if, when he arrives, he found that the dominant species on Earth is…lobsters? Most of the entries, Silverberg notes, were written at the direct request of an editor, and he prefaces each with a brief anecdote, often about the editors themselves. There is, however, one disappointing aspect to the collection: Although the stories zip between bygone times and far-flung futures, the characters remain firmly rooted in the mores of the 20th century. Virtually every main character is a man, and most women are capricious girls or bitchy, unfaithful wives—scarcely more than things to be ogled, fought over, or, in one disturbing scene in “Jennifer’s Lover,” to have definitely-not-consensual sex with. (The latter was published in a 1982 issue of Penthouse.) The quality of the rest of his work is nearly enough to overcome these failings, though, leaving readers to hope that perhaps Silverberg curtails his victory lap and writes just a few more stories for this century.

Revolutionary time-travel tales, if you can overlook the fossilized characters.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-94111072-0

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Three Rooms Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • 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

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THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

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

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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