A powerful portal story with a stirring protagonist; it’s everything a good sci-fi tale should be and more.

READ REVIEW

Reflection

BOOK ONE

Causey delivers a mix of business, government, religion, and fantastic technology in this debut sci-fi novel.

Time is not running out; it’s running backward. Using the discoveries of the genius Dr. Lacy Sylvan and the work of his paternal grandfather, William, Carlton Ferguson has opened portals into the past—generating massive profits for the family company. Any time and place in the last 48 hours can be reviewed through these Reflection Windows, and while the public doesn’t know it, Carlton hasn’t stopped there, extending his reach by years toward his dream of viewing right up to the beginning of time. Not only that, but he’s kept the secrets of the technology between himself and Sylvan, and even she doesn’t know the full extent of his capabilities. The Reflection Windows have rendered nearly all crime a thing of the past, so it’s tough to imagine anyone going after Carlton. But when Sylvan’s home is bombed, it’s just the beginning of a cascading series of events that could put everything he’s accomplished in jeopardy. Both the religious contingent and the government want control of the technology, either to discover secrets or out of the belief that some things are better left unseen. And when Carlton finally begins to make decisions about monumental issues—whom to trust, how to live, what is right or wrong—the world may be forever changed. This story grapples with ideas that are precise and contemporary, like the question of security versus privacy, and others that are timeless, like whether it is greater for the mind of man to know or simply to wonder. And the glue binding these concepts together is made of precise, well-crafted prose and intricate details, not to mention a fascinating main character. Indeed, the digressions into the precise ways Carlton gets things done and the mechanics of the Reflection system might become dull were it not for the passion the protagonist shows for his life’s mission as well as the complexities of his psyche, from his family history to the loneliness he inflicts on himself. He plays God but nonetheless remains distinctly human. This is a remarkable novel and hopefully a herald of great things to come.

A powerful portal story with a stirring protagonist; it’s everything a good sci-fi tale should be and more.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5144-0038-8

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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
more