Gripping and bloody as a beating heart but with a strong need for follow up.

FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN

A seemingly routine interstellar mission goes terribly wrong—of course.

Michelle “Shell” Campion, first mate on the ship Ragtime, expects to take a fairly nominal role in the journey to the planetary colony of Bloodroot; after all, the ship’s AI will handle everything. But she wakes from 10 years of cold sleep at the end of her journey to discover the AI stripped of its higher functions and 31 of the slumbering passengers murdered and dismembered by the service bots. Her mayday call is answered by Rasheed Fin, a disgraced investigator from Bloodroot, and his Artificial partner, Salvo, who wonder if Shell herself might be the guilty party. Certainly, the killer still appears to be onboard and is continuing to sabotage the ship’s systems. Aided by the investigative team and a more recently arrived duo—Lawrence Biz, a retired astronaut, old friend of Shell's family, and governor of neighboring space station Lagos, and his half-human daughter, Joké—they must somehow find the murderous saboteur, secure the ship, and ensure the safe arrival of the surviving colonists. Although the story bears some elements of a locked-room mystery, Agatha Christie fans will be disappointed: The author doesn’t provide readers with sufficient clues to solve the crime, instead preferring to provide the majority of the revelations midway through the book. As such, the novel is less of a puzzle and more of a genuinely exciting race against time with some mystery elements, a thriller/horror-aboard-a-spaceship in the vein of Greg Bear’s Hull Zero Three, Sean Danker’s Admiral, and, of course, the classic film Alien. Thompson also has some sharp and relevant things to say about technocrats with less than savory sources for their wealth who engage in messy personal relationships, enjoy showy toys, and try to buy themselves out of trouble. Considerably less drenched in the hallucinatory than Thompson's Wormwood trilogy, the story does veer unexpectedly toward the supernatural at the end, giving it an open-ended feel. Other aspects of the plot could use more fleshing out. Given Thompson’s penchant for series, might subsequent books be expected?

Gripping and bloody as a beating heart but with a strong need for follow up.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-759-55791-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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DEVOLUTION

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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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

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PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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