Still intriguing and worth pursuing, but the strain may be beginning to show.


From the Terra Ignota series , Vol. 3

A stagnant, complacent Earth faces war in the 25th century in the third of an ongoing science-fantasy series (Seven Surrenders, 2017, etc.).

The world, now ruled by Hives affiliated with philosophical viewpoints instead of geographic nations, has had 300 years of peace, now coming to an end. Anger rises over various revelations that peace was maintained by corruption, secret assassinations, and government manipulation. The data suggest that war is coming, but no one seems sure precisely what the sides will be and what they will fight about. All the issues eventually coalesce around J.E.D.D. Mason, the young man who plays a major role in all the Hive governments and who has proclaimed himself a god from another universe, incarnated in human form as a Conversation with this universe’s Creator. There is something curiously compelling about Palmer’s narrative, but its success depends on whether the reader believes in this world of technological marvels that is purportedly our own but which also features two gods and a resurrected Achilles created from a toy soldier. It’s clear that the Hive system isn’t working, but should the only alternative be an autocracy directed by a supposedly kind and benevolent alien god whose two closest companions are a cannibalistic murderer and a sadistic serial kidnapper? The cannibalistic murderer is our narrator, the brilliant, brutal, and extremely broken Mycroft Canner, who in this volume is showing signs of extreme mental deterioration. What initially appears to be a literary device—Mycroft’s intense conversations with an imagined audience which includes a future reader of the book; the philosopher Hobbes; and Apollo Mojave, one of his murder victims—actually signals a growing madness that apparently no one is bothering to treat except in the most minimal way. Appreciating the book depends on whether one is willing to spend extended time in Mycroft’s pompous, servile, and erratic company. Some might also find Mycroft’s beliefs about gender in what is purportedly but not convincingly a gender-neutral society somewhat offensive.

Still intriguing and worth pursuing, but the strain may be beginning to show.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7804-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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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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With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...


This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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