Readers of the Bloodright Trilogy will enjoy this second installment, despite its leisurely pace, and they'll be left eager...

OATHS OF LEGACY

From the Bloodright Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to Bonds of Brass (2020), Gal wrestles with his love for Ettian, the boy who took on an empire to save him, and his new role as Ettian’s prisoner.

Narrated by Gal from his gilded cage on Archon’s capital planet, and then from inside Archon's dreadnought flagship in the middle of a war with his mother’s empire, the Umber bloodright heir has no idea how to feel about anything. He blames his former roommate and lover for his imprisonment. Then again, Ettian saved his life by taking his throne. But Ettian lied! But so did Gal….All Gal really knows is he’s currently Ettian’s human shield and the best hope the young emperor has of staying alive once Gal's mother brings the full fury of the Umber fleet down on Ettian's newly crowned head. Meanwhile, Gal’s schemes to regain freedom and his own crown dig him deeper into danger when Ettian takes his advice and goes to the front, dragging Gal and their friend Wen—who is known as Archon’s new Flame Knight—with him. Gal soon realizes that if he wants to keep his and Wen’s heads away from Archon general Iral’s ax, Ettian needs to remain in power. And Gal, with all his training and knowledge of true empire, is Ettian’s best chance. With so many outcomes leading to death for one or all of them, Gal walks a fine line threaded with panic, post-traumatic stress, and lessons in controlling what you can instead of obsessing over what you can’t. Skrutskie strives for a fresh look at the lover-to-hater-and-back-again trope, taking quite a few unexpected detours among her diverse and sprawling worlds. This installment maintains quite a slow burn between all the recaps of the first volume and the necessarily slow machinations of a war in space fought with mileslong ships, but the last third of the book does return to the fast-paced, intimate action many readers came to love in Bonds of Brass. Above all, it’s a character study of Gal, whose struggle with panic attacks and PTSD are very real and well done, though he’s often hard to like when he’s being a selfish, obtuse know-it-all.

Readers of the Bloodright Trilogy will enjoy this second installment, despite its leisurely pace, and they'll be left eager for Book 3.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12892-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

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KLARA AND THE SUN

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future.

Klara is an AF, or “Artificial Friend,” of a slightly older model than the current production run; she can’t do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to “solar absorption problems,” so much so that “after four continuous days of Pollution,” she recounts, “I could feel myself weakening.” She’s uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where she’s on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze “never softened or wavered,” Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, “It’s not your business to be curious.” It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; she’s being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. It’s clear, though, that it’s a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing.

A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-31817-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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