A fast-paced popcorn space opera with occasional hints of depth—easily digestible like its predecessor.

THE TINKER AND THE FOLD

PART TWO: THE RISE OF THE BOE

An adolescent inventor tries to rescue his brother from a power-mad alien, while Earth faces a controlled existence as a member of a galactic association.  

In this sequel, the Gordons (The Tinker and The Fold, 2015), a father-and-son YA sci-fi writing team, continue the breathless antics of the Javelins, a California household of scientific and alpha types in 2030. Jett Javelin Jr., aka “the Tinker,” became the most famous kid on Earth for creating the “quantum swapper,” a teleportation device that gained humanity an enrollment in The Fold, a co-op of thousands of spacefaring worlds. The dwarfish, officious Aaptuuans, who oversee The Fold, enforce its strict codes against violence and killing (the basis for the biblical Ten Commandments). Because Jett Javelin Sr. was a Gulf War veteran, he joins millions of human “murderers” exiled for reconditioning on Pluto. Jett Jr., in a rescue-mission attempt using the quantum swapper, accidentally scrambles his subatomic structure. Result: he acquires shape-shifting powers. His twin brother, Jack, is taken prisoner by the treacherous Hazborg, a reptile-eel monster. The Aaptuuans believed they had reformed the creature, but, with stolen technology, he masquerades as a god among the Boe, a primitive primate/feline tribe he plans to make into an empire. The Aaptuuans’ nonviolent solution sends super-charged Jett Jr. (plus a girlfriend and an AI) to the planet as a rival god to dethrone the villain. Amid the high-speed stuff is the back story of Earth’s conformity to Fold values, ready or not. Ethics, peace, and a vegan diet are coerced by the aliens—sometimes using methods of behavioral control not unlike those in A Clockwork Orange. A reader has a queasy feeling the authors don’t exactly object (well, Robert A. Heinlein preached some peculiar sermons, too), and this intriguing plot thread finally intersects with the frothier one in the cliffhanger ending. At one point, there’s a quick (nothing in the narrative moves slowly) pop-culture reference contrasting two Hollywood director-fantasists: action addict Michael Bay and the more thoughtful and complicated J.J. Abrams. The saga itself seems torn between which role model to follow—big ideas or just snazzy FX? But the nimble style is disarming enough to curb cynicism about the elastic science and Tom Swift-on-microchips tone. The sense of humor keeps things more in a comedic orbit than a mission of gravity.

A fast-paced popcorn space opera with occasional hints of depth—easily digestible like its predecessor.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9963574-5-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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