DARK MATTER

A first anthology of speculative fiction by black writers: 25 stories, 3 novel excerpts, and 5 essays, the oldest piece an 1887 tale of a bewitched vineyard, the majority from this year. Included are a couple of acknowledged classics: Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah,” about the effects on sexual behavior caused by astronauts who are themselves asexual; and Octavia E. Butler’s wrenching masterpiece, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” about a genetic disease whose victims helplessly mutilate themselves. In an excerpt from the 1931 novel Black No More, George S. Schuyler wonders what would happen if black people simply and easily became white. Derrick Bell imagines alien visitors whose only desire is to depart with all America’s blacks. In W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1920 tale, a comet kills everyone in New York except a poor black man and a rich white woman. Other topics encompass: Adam and Eve, vampires, music, modern folk tales, astral traveling, VR, multigenerational starships, female warriors, an American woman caught in the gears of an African civil war, the Ark, Santa, alien contact, UFOs, alien abduction, and robots. The essays are equally fascinating. Delany examines racism and science fiction—it’s largely unconscious but present, he reports. Walter Mosley predicts an imminent explosion of new, black SF writers. Charles R. Saunders becomes generally unhinged about Mike Resnick’s African fables. Paul D. Miller explores music and black identity. And Octavia E. Butler wonders how much reality is too much.

Read. Enjoy. Ponder.

Pub Date: July 18, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52583-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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