A rewarding SF adventure on a particularly vivid alien world.


A human refugee colony on the planet Kamaria finds clues that a vile machine-creature race that conquered Earth has infiltrated this world as well.

In this SF sequel, Bruno continues the Song of Kamaria series that began with In the Orbit of Sirens (2020). Humanity fled a solar system conquered by the Undriel, a homegrown cyborg race that assimilates humanoids (rather like the Borg of the Star Trek series, but more insectoid in their augmentations). On the strange, distant world of Kamaria, a generation of Homo sapiens that built cities lives in an uneasy peace with the Natives, a birdlike species, some flightless, some not, called the Auk’nai, technologically adept yet prone to mysticism. The sudden slaughter of a formidable forest predator, held in esteem by many Auk’nai as a living god, presages dire clues pointing to the conclusion that the dreaded Undriel—or something with the race’s technology—have crossed the cosmos and landed on Kamaria. When a monstrous Auk’nai-like thing with biomechanical attributes kidnaps Cade and Nella Castus, the young adult children of hero pioneers Denton and Eliana Castus, a rescue expedition heads off into forbidden, eldritch realms and Lovecraft-ian caves, looking for answers. This volume is what the SF cognoscenti like to call a “planetary romance,” somewhat trickily defined as a story in which a striking world’s environment and culture drive and practically define the narrative. Indeed, the Auk’nai part of the tale fairly obviously reflects the fates of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples who were confronted with (and ruined by) European colonization/imperialism (“Humanity had a bad track record”). A complication here is that Kamaria’s biosphere includes tangible metaphysical elements—deities or the near equivalent, spirit forms, and other great whazzits—that come into play. Sometimes, these facets are thrilling (action and combat in the second half of the story come pretty much nonstop). Other times, the superpowers and otherworldly allies seem a little convenient, affecting the author’s well-hung cliffhangers (including an open ending). Or, as Denton notes, “anything is possible now.” Genre fans will be transfixed by the results and imagination at work and perhaps give additional points for a key character being deaf, something the Star Trek series only worked into one TV episode (after some persuasion, too).

A rewarding SF adventure on a particularly vivid alien world.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73464-706-8

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Tom Bruno Author

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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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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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.


From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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