A sci-fi adventure on an epic scale with all the prerequisites—intergalactic travel, spaceships, alien abilities—to satisfy...

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Infinity of Being

IN THE BEYOND

In Klinge’s sci-fi debut, beings from a realm called the Plane of Discovery are sent to help earthlings, whose planet will soon face a catastrophe.

Sara is dead and, like others, on planet Tera, a “way station” to higher planes of existence. When an inevitably disastrous asteroid bounds toward Earth, volunteers are called among the former earthlings to return to the planet and assist the civilization in the aftermath. But on the way, Sara is told by a golden figure, whom she dubs Smarto, that she’s been chosen by God to chronicle her journeys between planets—though that may only be part of a larger plan. The novel includes aliens on Tera, including the tall, red-skinned Panzers, but there’s a clever twist: The humans, in their posthumous visit to Earth, are the real aliens. The humans now have special skills, such as telepathy; they occasionally terrify people, particularly when they’re recognizable—like a former U.S. president, for instance—and they must keep their spacecraft secret like UFOs (a captain even cites the unfortunate Roswell incident). The group’s time on Earth accounts for only half of the book, but the trip is an interstellar roller coaster, with a supernova shortcut, an emergency stop on planet Ilyria when the ship catches fire, and rest at a place littered with movie stars who’ve forgotten their past lives. Once the group eventually splinters, the crew’s collective determination to reach Earth is replaced by feebler individual motivations—e.g., looking for family members—but Sara, who monitors everyone while writing her book, keeps the reins tight until their goals intertwine. Klinge laces the novel with sci-fi turns such as malleable time, which moves much slower on Earth and makes a two-year resident of Tera look 20 years older. Also prevalent, but perhaps a bit too obvious, is a religious theme: Sara notices Smarto’s cap is reminiscent of a halo, and Smarto equates Sara’s hesitancy to document her and her companions’ stories with Moses’ reluctance to follow God’s orders. Smarto further implies that Sara’s book will be a Bible “sequel.”

A sci-fi adventure on an epic scale with all the prerequisites—intergalactic travel, spaceships, alien abilities—to satisfy genre fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475073126

Page Count: 548

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2013

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

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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A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS

A curious scientist stumbles on mysterious ruins in the opening chapters of this science fiction epic.

Things are really turning around for Kira Navárez. A xenobiologist, she’s finishing up a stint doing research on the large moon Adrasteia with a small team of other scientists, and her boyfriend, Alan, has just proposed to her. Instead of continuing to spend months apart, working on different planets and waiting until they can be together, they'll be able to ask their employers to make them part of a colony as a couple. As Kira performs a few routine last-minute checks before their team leaves the system, something strange catches her eye. She decides to check it out, just to be thorough, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient structure. When her curiosity gets the better of her and she touches a pedestal covered in dust, a bizarre black material flows out and covers her entire body. She passes out as she's being rescued by her team, and when she comes to, she seems to be fine, and the team reports her findings to the government. But soon a kind of strange, alien suit takes over her body, covering her with black material that lashes out violently against Alan and the other scientists, forming spikes that jump out from her skin. A military ship comes to collect what's left of the team and investigate the reports of an alien discovery. When an alien species attacks the ship, presumably because of Kira’s discovery, Kira will have to learn to harness the suit’s strange powers to defend herself and the rest of the human race. Paolini, best known for the YA epic fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, makes his adult debut in another genre that welcomes long page counts. This one clocks in at close to 900 pages, but the rollicking pace, rapidly developing stakes, and Paolini’s confident worldbuilding make them fly by. Perhaps not the most impressive prose, but a worthwhile adventure story.

A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76284-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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