Space-bear storm troopers, star pirates, femme fatale cyborgs, and lost princes and princesses add up to fun for genre...

THE BURNING SON

From the Burning Son series , Vol. 1

Rendered fugitives after religious fanatics bent on conquest attack their planet, a brother and sister join a motley band of interstellar smugglers in this sci-fi series opener.

In the spacegoing future, Earth’s empire (aka the Terran Confederation) competes against two principal races, the amphibious and psychic Dru and the foxlike engineering geniuses the Muscat. Mutual suspicion and rivalry have prevented these three mighty forces from forging an effective, united front against the new bad guys on the scene: the bullying Erethizon, descriptively nicknamed “Porcu-bears,” hairy near barbarians (barbearians?) who are driven by a jihadlike religious crusade to seize control over every world they can get their claws on. Nonallied, independent planets are the easiest pickings, and an Erethizon fleet blitzkriegs the human settlement of Yale. The act makes refugees out of two citizens who would have been prize hostages for the invaders: navigator Mark Martin and his medic sister, Sophia, both military-trained progeny of a popular Yale senator. In desperation, the siblings bunk aboard the Leonard Fox, a tricked-out freighter that is really a pirate vessel (more of a smuggler ship, actually), making shadowy cargo runs for a galactic crime kingpin under the businesslike command of Capt. Jennifer Houston. Equality between the sexes, for the most part, is a sidelight of the universe Leatherman (Marque of the Son, 2017) builds. The newcomers integrate with the diverse crew even as continual harassment by dogged Erethizon pursuers strongly suggests there is something onboard the Leo that the conquerors desperately want—and that there may be a traitor in the crew helping them. The author begins a multivolume space-opera saga in breezy, rousing fashion. The novel is an enjoyable setup, lean in prose, pithy in dialogue (“We rely on blockade runners like Captain Houston over there. They charge us like a bathroom call girl, but we gotta pay to dance”), and generous with action and motley characters delineated in sparse, broad strokes. (Even if protagonist Mark, through whose eyes the first-person narrative unfolds, could have used a bit more color.) Readers who want fuller details of the history, technology, cultures, and intrigues (particularly the late-appearing “bear zombies”) skillfully dreamed up by Leatherman will be strongly lured into charting a warp-speed course for the sequels.

Space-bear storm troopers, star pirates, femme fatale cyborgs, and lost princes and princesses add up to fun for genre readers in search of diversion.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9983002-1-4

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Fivefold Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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