The adventures of these nutty space dudes will surely set off a series of its own.

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THE SKY PEOPLE

A fanciful, politically tinged tale from Stirling (The Ship Avenged, 1997, etc.), set on the frontier of Venus circa 1988 as the Eastern Bloc rivals the US Sky People in the great space race.

The Sky People have established a stronghold on the Gargarin continent of Venus, at the settlement called Jamestown, directed by Ranger Lieutenant Marc Vitrac, formerly of Louisiana Cajun country. He welcomes the arrival of fresh reserves on the spaceship Carson, including an attractive young geologist, Lieutenant Cynthia Whitlock, and RAF Wing Commander Christopher Blair. Together they comprise “explorers at the cutting edge of the human story.” However, there are other settlements entrenched in the strange land habitable by both dinosaurs and mammals: the small community of Kartahown, made up of numerous Earthlings and local tribespeople, traders and pilgrims; rank, savage tribes of marauding Neanderthals of the Wergu tribe; and the blond-haired, ethereal Cloud Mountain People of the Far West, in fur loincloths and bearing blowguns. And all kinds of curious beasts flourish here, such as giant mountable reptiles called ceratopsians and strong, scary raptor-like Quetzas. While the Sky People explore the geography of Venus, Blinkis, captain of the low-hovering Eastern Bloc space shuttle Riga, crashes into Wergu territory and is captured and brainwashed by the hairy brutes, who nonetheless shelter and heal him. Among the superior Cloud Mountain People, young female warrior Teesa has visions of invaders, who turn out to be Marc Vitrac and his gang in pursuit of the Russians. In fact, Blinkis's own pilot wife, Jadviga, arrives with blimp and crew to find her husband, and all of them end up confronting the nasty, smelly Wergus. Stirling offers an easygoing, atmospheric tale airbrushed with fuzzy political overtones, along with a good bit of humor and lively characterization.

The adventures of these nutty space dudes will surely set off a series of its own.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-765-31488-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2006

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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 breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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