Often more a metaphorical than tangible story, but unquestionably a literary journey worth taking.

Murdered for Extra Seconds of Erection

In this dystopian novel, scientists struggle to find the source of a worldwide virus causing sexually stimulated men to assault women.

Women aboard the luxury cruise ship Luxus Maximus find themselves the targets of an unlikely threat—the male passengers. The men, with conspicuously engorged members, accost the ladies in an apparent trance. The women duck out in a suite and get help from the Australian Federal Police, boarding via helicopter. Doctors, however, can find nothing wrong with the affected men, who later express no interest in females, sexual or otherwise. A quarantine to subvert a potential outbreak is evidently ineffective: men are soon trying to force themselves onto women on a global scale. Scientists, including geneticist Dr. Roger Klein, can’t immediately pinpoint the cause but determine that the mere sight of the opposite sex triggers the men’s response. Agencies, meanwhile, opt for temporary solutions. Separating the genders, for one, fails when armed male soldiers, intended to keep men away from safe zones, cross into the women’s areas and attack. Burqas quiet things down, but Christians suggesting that a cross be emblazoned on the Islamic garment ignites heated religious debates and eventual terrorist strikes. Klein discovers a mutating virus and a message—converted to audio and visual components—in genetic material. If the message can be translated, scientists may uncover the virus’s origin and possibly a cure. Despite a seemingly playful title, the novel takes itself seriously, more in tune with dark satire. There’s copious fallout from the virus, for example, like the chance of economic crisis because women primarily staying inside diminishes the workforce. Abanteriba (Poetic Retribution from Mars, 2006) provides back stories for notable characters such as Klein and Dr. Harald Brand, director-general of the World Health Organization. Regardless, a focus on the plot doesn’t afford them much personality. The latter half slows down considerably, with Klein and company searching for someone to translate the message. This portion is too long and tedious, repeatedly stressing that the world is on the “precipice” of or “teetering” on disaster (or doom, etc.). But the moral remains loud and clear, leading to a clever reexamination of the title and the imposing final thought.

Often more a metaphorical than tangible story, but unquestionably a literary journey worth taking.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4828-6431-1

Page Count: 454

Publisher: PartridgeSingapore

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller


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.


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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