Not much more than an exposition-heavy introduction to a sequel—though sprightly enough for what it is.

THE RISEN EMPIRE

VOL. I, SUCCESSION

An intergalactic empire struggles under the weight of its resurrected dead, while a story struggles to get moving. In the first entry in this new series from Westerfeld (Evolution’s Darling, 2000, etc.), we have the Risen Empire, 80-or-so worlds bound together for the past 1500 years by the divine presence of the Emperor, who sacrifices himself in order to be risen again. Of course, coming back from the dead is only for the very noble or very rich, so with each passing generation spontaneity and innovation are leached out of the Empire by its young-looking but ancient-thinking leaders. Nibbling at the Empire’s borders are the fearsome Rix, who maniacally serve the idea of all minds becoming one. The action unfolds during the course of an Imperial rescue attempt on a remote planet where a small band of Rix commandos have taken the Child Empress hostage and are busy converting the planet to Rix-ian compound thinking. Once a planet’s data systems have gone Rix, the only way to fix them is to bomb the place back into the Stone Age. In between breathless action sequences, Westerfeld treats us to flashbacks, many horrendously slow, regarding some Imperial intrigue and a romance between a pacifist Senator and the hard-as-nails Imperial officer tasked with rescuing the Child Empress. By the time all that is handled, the story is over, seemingly before it quite began.

Not much more than an exposition-heavy introduction to a sequel—though sprightly enough for what it is.

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30555-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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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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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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