A solid, enjoyable first novel, despite its tendency to veer into wordy technological discussions.

READ REVIEW

Virtual Vengeance

A JOURNEY FROM MAN TO MACHINE

In Starr’s debut cyber-thriller, the future is here—and it wants to sell you things.

Professor Yuri Petrov, who teaches graduate-level computer science at the University of Illinois, is a throwback to the days of human teaching. The Russian native was himself taught by people, not by the teaching machines that are now ubiquitous throughout the United States. Teaching isn’t the only thing that’s computerized; indeed, most people’s lives are ruled by automation—and the advertising that goes along with it. Corporations now use nearly everything to advertise their products, including elevator music, toilet paper, food, and as it turns out, even the teaching programs themselves. Yuri accidentally discovers that an ad agency called Sellco has been placing subliminal messages inside every teaching machine in the country, and they’re not just advertising Pepsi and weight-loss drugs. They’re feeding something far more sinister to the American people, and the people don’t even know it. Yuri must get off the grid and hide in order to expose Sellco while protecting his own life. However, even the best-laid plans go awry, and he soon finds himself in an altered state of consciousness no one had ever dreamed possible—until now. Starr weaves a thought-provoking tapestry of future tech and hypothetical concepts, although it sometimes requires his characters to be unnecessarily verbose and explanatory. The plot covers the standard bases regarding government conspiracies and evil corporations, but Starr manages to make it feel fresh by highlighting the professor’s old-fashioned yet sprightly personality. A thoroughly enjoyable protagonist, Yuri never quite falls into the category of curmudgeon, but instead balances his enthusiasm for technology with his love of doing things in traditional ways. Starr keeps his focus on the human element, and as such, the novel never devolves into horror; rather, it gently prods at questions of what it means to be human, and how people can retain their humanity in a world of rigid control and materialism.

A solid, enjoyable first novel, despite its tendency to veer into wordy technological discussions.

Pub Date: March 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492236757

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more