With the welcome influx of new ideas, a definite improvement on Volume 1.

SHIPSTAR

The promised sequel to Bowl of Heaven (2012), in which a starship containing would-be colonists encounters a vast bowl-shaped construct that’s being steered toward the same destination, using an entire star as its engine.

Once the humans begin to explore the artifact, they learn that it’s been wandering the galaxy for millions of years, capturing and enslaving other intelligent species and incorporating them into its complex ecology. Since the starship needs supplies, a landing party investigates and becomes separated when the Bowl’s nominal rulers, the bulky, birdlike Folk, attempt to capture them. One group under biologist Beth Marble, assisted by creatures called finger snakes, manages to escape back to the starship; a second group, led by Cliff Kammash, teams up with the alien Sil—yet another species that chafes under the Folk’s arrogant and inflexible governance. Back on the starship, Capt. Redwing attempts to communicate with the Folk and with Cliff, learning of still more powerful aliens whose ambition is to communicate with the advanced intelligences inhabiting the planet that is the Bowl’s, and the starship’s, ultimate destination. Putting less emphasis on the Bowl object itself, the authors make an effort to develop their characters, with notably more success where the aliens are concerned—technical discussions still tend to clog the human interactions. And there are lots of revelations concerning the Bowl’s origins and purpose, even if much of it is reportage with little mystery or tension. The upshot is often impressive—not too surprisingly, given the authors’ stellar credentials—yet only occasionally engaging.

With the welcome influx of new ideas, a definite improvement on Volume 1.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2870-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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

DUNE

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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