An ambitious combination of mystic heroics and planet-shattering star wars.

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Dragons, In The Beginning

A THRILLING TALE OF THE ROLE OF DRAGONS IN SPACE AND TIME

Hoover’s sci-fi novel lays out the origins of Earth’s religious traditions in the story of a galactic war between an evil empire and a dragon-worshipping heroic alliance.

The author tosses together two sci-fi/fantasy genres: high fantasy involving sentient dragons (think Anne McCaffrey) and mighty military space opera (think E.E. “Doc” Smith), both heavily dressed with Joseph Campbell–style mythmaking. In a besieged medieval-esque realm, young Prince Cedric is sent from Windward Castle to safety with a legendary Dragon Master, one of an elite few who know how to tame, bond with and fight the great flying reptiles. The high-tech setting also includes flying machines and cybernetic implants. A parallel plotline warp speeds over years of interplanetary warfare between the power-crazed, body-snatching Belagana, determined to conquer the galaxy and make Earth an organ-supply depot, and the stalwart, ethical Dracan Alliance, which has a mystical reverence for dragons. A great dragon-spirit serves as the Dracans’ benevolent universal deity, while a surgically augmented Belagana plays a demonic role. Along the way, Hoover energetically mixes Bible verses, book of Revelation imagery and the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata (as well as Star Wars and Star Trek references); at one point, Belagana masquerade as angels and invent the Eden myth as a form of social control. Over the course of the story, the bellicose Belagana suffer countless defeats against the resourceful Dracans, who often seem surprised by their own cleverness. The novel’s characters tend to be a bit simplistic, along the lines of those in early Robert Heinlein stories (minus his snappy dialogue), but the story moves at a fast clip and stages an impressive cosmic Total War.

An ambitious combination of mystic heroics and planet-shattering star wars.

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482519914

Page Count: 682

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS

A curious scientist stumbles on mysterious ruins in the opening chapters of this science fiction epic.

Things are really turning around for Kira Navárez. A xenobiologist, she’s finishing up a stint doing research on the large moon Adrasteia with a small team of other scientists, and her boyfriend, Alan, has just proposed to her. Instead of continuing to spend months apart, working on different planets and waiting until they can be together, they'll be able to ask their employers to make them part of a colony as a couple. As Kira performs a few routine last-minute checks before their team leaves the system, something strange catches her eye. She decides to check it out, just to be thorough, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient structure. When her curiosity gets the better of her and she touches a pedestal covered in dust, a bizarre black material flows out and covers her entire body. She passes out as she's being rescued by her team, and when she comes to, she seems to be fine, and the team reports her findings to the government. But soon a kind of strange, alien suit takes over her body, covering her with black material that lashes out violently against Alan and the other scientists, forming spikes that jump out from her skin. A military ship comes to collect what's left of the team and investigate the reports of an alien discovery. When an alien species attacks the ship, presumably because of Kira’s discovery, Kira will have to learn to harness the suit’s strange powers to defend herself and the rest of the human race. Paolini, best known for the YA epic fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, makes his adult debut in another genre that welcomes long page counts. This one clocks in at close to 900 pages, but the rollicking pace, rapidly developing stakes, and Paolini’s confident worldbuilding make them fly by. Perhaps not the most impressive prose, but a worthwhile adventure story.

A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76284-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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