An ambitious, enjoyable romp whose briskness makes its few stumbles forgivable.

Prisoners of the Game

Gamers must survive a glitch-y virtual-reality realm that’s rendering its players comatose in Allen’s (Apocalypse Orphan, 2016) sci-fi actioner.

In a world that’s been ravaged by nuclear bombs and the effects of the Cyber Wars, in which self-aware robots turned against humans, it seems that salvation lies in a game. A woman named Alice Mason proposes that countries settle disputes by warring in a virtual realm, which leads to the creation of the World Gaming Association with her as director. She’s stolen the technology from professor Raymond Brady, who’s in a maximum security prison after federal agents raided his home, grabbed his servers, and left his daughter to die in a fire that they started. But now Mason needs Brady to fix a glitch in the game, in which gaming soldiers, or “irus,” are inexplicably hemorrhaging in their bio-beds. The professor generates a new scenario and gathers six irus to play it, including currently undefeated American Andre Kingston. When the peaceful simulation inexplicably pits the players against zombies, Brady determines that the problem is outside interference. Then Kingston and the others lose their communication link with the WGA. As the scenario changes, the irus face aliens, an ancient Roman army, and energy-draining “cyberstalkers.” Although Mason can’t explain the glitches, it’s clear that she’s harboring a secret and doesn’t want anyone, players or programmers, digging too deeply. Allen’s steadily paced story offers numerous battles with conventional creatures but proudly acknowledges its inspirations. The zombies, for example, are sometimes called “the walking dead,” but only after Kingston references the popular TV series of the same name; the author also notes similarities and differences between the game’s aliens and the xenomorphs from the 1979 film Alien. Clipped sentences with essential details sustain the momentum: “She took two steps forward and stomped on his neck.…She then fenced with a trooper, using her war axe with good effect.” Even the final act, while predictable, doesn’t slow down until the very end. However, the tale is hampered by a few inconsistencies: “cyborg” and “android” are used synonymously, for instance, as are “Captain” and “Commander.”

An ambitious, enjoyable romp whose briskness makes its few stumbles forgivable.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-988236-32-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Spectrum Ink

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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