A sci-fi novel that offers a relentlessly paced, action-packed, and undeniably epic-in-scope adventure.

In Earth's Service

From the Mapped Space series , Vol. 2

This second installment in the Mapped Space saga continues the exploits of Sirius Kade, captain of a merchant starship and deep-cover agent for the Earth Intelligence Service.

Attempting to complete what should be a routine mission on a remote planet colonized by a highly intelligent race of space-faring, giant beetlelike creatures, Kade watches as a hit squad murders his contact. Tracking the killers to a nearby planet entangles the intrepid operative and his crew in a grand-scale conspiracy that involves weapons smuggling, slavery, and, above all, a plot that features insanely advanced alien technology that could ultimately obliterate humankind. The answers surrounding the alien tech and how it came to be in the possession of space pirates always seem to elude Kade. In this novel (the sequel to Renneberg’s The Antaran Codex, 2014), Kade finds himself in one perilous situation after another in such diverse places as the high-gravity planet Hardfall. Humanity’s tenuous Access Treaty with the Galactic Forum looms above it all. After having its interstellar access rights suspended for 1,000 years when human religious fanatics attacked an alien home world, the human race is essentially on probation—and any violation could set it back centuries. Kade must tread lightly: the future of humankind is literally in his hands. While not as immersive as the first installment (the grandiose political machinations and military sci-fi-powered maneuverings overshadow the characters’ more intimate story arcs), this sequel is still captivating. Kade is an audacious and endearing leading man, and the various planetary backdrops and inhabitants are meticulously detailed and vividly described. Hardfall, for example, is extraordinarily realized (“Large river valleys snaked from towering mountains in the east, across vast plains to the desolate west coast, although only the great rivers of the south still held water. Their northern cousins were now dry and barren scars across a once fertile land”). This volume also delivers an impressively knotty plotline and impeccably edited writing. Fans of classic space tales (like E. E. Smith’s Lensman saga and Jack Williamson’s Legion of Space) should find this series utterly satisfying.

A sci-fi novel that offers a relentlessly paced, action-packed, and undeniably epic-in-scope adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9941840-0-9

Page Count: 414

Publisher: Stephen Peter Renneberg

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2015

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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