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

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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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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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