Enthralling, edge-of-your-seat stuff hurtling along at warp speed. Grab!

UNCONQUERABLE SUN

Clash of empires: an action-packed yarn loosely based on historical precedent, the sort of flawlessly plotted, high-tension science fiction Elliott's been threatening to write for some time.

The story precipitates us into a kind of modernized Chinese-flavored Alexandrian Macedonia, with a partially collapsed "beacon" network allowing instantaneous interstellar travel, commerce, and war. It's the sort of society where everything of importance happens in front of the cameras, where broadcasting is indistinguishable from propaganda. Under queen-marshal Eirene, the matriarchal Republic of Chaonia has expelled the Yele and Phene occupiers. Eirene, unaccountably, grudges her daughter and heir, Princess Sun, a word of praise, no matter how stellar Sun's achievements. Sun's Companions are aides drawn from her relatives and the scions of powerful nobles, though some of the same ambitious families and court factions would prefer to see Sun ousted or dead. Meanwhile, the rich, powerful Phene, with their four arms and profoundly creepy secrets, become alarmed at Chaonia's success and prepare to strike. The two main narrative viewpoints complement one another. Third-person past-tense Sun must survive constant threats to her life and freedom while conducting battles, making plans, exposing traitors, controlling her wayward impulses, and asking the questions everybody else shrinks from. First-person present-tense Persephone of House Lee struggles to gain independence from her insidious and possibly treacherous family and prove her loyalty to Sun. The upshot is a maelstrom of palace intrigue, interstellar back-stabbing, devious plots, treachery, blistering action, ferocious confrontations—and a heroine for the ages, tough, resourceful, loyal, intelligent, honorable, courageous, and utterly indomitable.

Enthralling, edge-of-your-seat stuff hurtling along at warp speed. Grab!

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19724-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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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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