Loyalists will leap aboard and groan with delight at a cliffhanger ending that arrives all too soon.

HIDDEN EMPIRE

VOL. I OF THE SAGA OF SEVEN SUNS

Anderson has keyboarded installments beyond number of the Star Wars, X-Files, and, with Brian Herbert, Dune series, hitting the bestseller lists, which he’s also hit in novels with L. Ron Hubbard, Doug Beason, the SF anthology Dogged Persistence (2001), and, most recently, a solo novel, Hopscotch (2002). Now he sets out to create an epic serial saga of his own, saying that his models come from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic fantasy series—and from Terry Brooks’s Shannara novels, which long ago kicked off the Ballantine Del Rey imprint and were indebted to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In Hidden Empire, humans are laggards in space exploration and development and find themselves assisted by the intelligent and advanced race of Ildirans, ruled by a Mage-Emperor. About 11 human generations ago, in the 1940s, the Ildirans discovered the empty cities of the insectlike Klikiss robots on the ice moons of Hyrillka. Now, in 2427, cosmo-archaeologists Margaret and Louis Colicos, who have dug through many lost civilizations, assemble the leaders of the Terran Hanseatic League to witness a discovery they’ve adapted from the Klikiss robot race that vanished 5,000 years ago: How to use the Klikiss Torch and turn a pastel globe of hydrogen gas five times the size of Jupiter into a small sun and, using its many moons, create a new solar system rife with commercial possibilities. But when they implode the ball of gas, a bad thing happens: the awakening of a formerly unknown race, the Hydrogues. Anderson thinks his story character-driven and has already keyboarded Book Two. We find it wondrously imagined and zip-driven in paper-thin rose.

Loyalists will leap aboard and groan with delight at a cliffhanger ending that arrives all too soon.

Pub Date: July 24, 2002

ISBN: 0-446-52862-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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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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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

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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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