A brisk, if occasionally uneven, yarn that will still appeal to old and young space-action fans.

DUSTED BY STARS

A courier takes on more than she bargained for when she accepts a gig transporting an alien relic through hostile space in Matiasz’s SF novel.

In a spacegoing future, earthlings are regarded by various alien species as violent, verminous upstarts whose greed ruined their home world and botched attempts to terraform Mars and Venus. Many feel that Homo sapiens, or “Gaians,” as they’re known, have no right to be zooming among the stars; nonetheless, many Gaians work throughout the galaxy as mercenaries and criminals. Stacey Jones, a Gaian, grew up in a Mars colony and self-identifies as a proud, socialist Martian, but despite her politics, her services as a transport-courier are still for sale. Desperate for cash, she takes a seemingly easy assignment to ferry an ancient artifact to Kapala, a planet maintained as a sort of shrine to the mysterious Progenitor civilization, which seeded life throughout the cosmos. The cuplike item, called a “sangrael,” turns out to be an archetypal relic that’s featured in numerous Terran legends, including that of the Holy Grail, but its curator—the mysterious part-cyborg Medea—assures Stacey that the object is harmless on its own. However, heavily armed attackers from all over known space (including other Gaians) soon converge on the tiny expedition. What kind of task has she really taken on? Matiasz delivers a flighty space-opera adventure in a compact package that has the feel of a teen-oriented chapter book or comic-book tale—a feeling that’s further cemented by the inclusion of Hunt’s flavorful black-and-white illustrations. It offers shoutouts to such SF pioneers as Larry Niven, Olaf Stapledon, and even Edgar Rice Burroughs. The text, narrated by the determined Stacey, packs a lot of information into a small space—it’s a virtual singularity, one might say—but it doesn’t stop it from snapping into action-packed fight scenes in the blink of an eye. There’s not a lot of character development, though, and an asteroid-field of subplots remains in orbit at the end.

A brisk, if occasionally uneven, yarn that will still appeal to old and young space-action fans.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 81

Publisher: 62 Mile Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 55

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 24

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more