Friday, August 31, 2012

Thrilling bestsellers are available NOW!!

Bloodline (Sigma Force Series) by James Rollins

Kirkus Reviews –

Rollins returns with another Sigma Force thriller. Rollins delivers more by-the-numbers mayhem. Cmdr. Pierce travels to Zanzibar to recruit Capt. Tucker Wayne and his war dog Kane, a Malinois. Wayne wants no part of Pierce, his mission or Sigma Force, a supersecret organization affiliated with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The mission: rescue Amanda Gant-Bennett, daughter of James Gant, POTUS. Somali pirates have taken Amanda hostage. Do the pirates know who their hostage is? What evil designs do they have on the baby? Are the British Special Forces on their side? The plot points appear with the regularity of mileposts. Love and gunpowder are in the air. Seichan, Asian assassin extraordinaire, used to kill for the Guild, a shadowy organization with ancient roots and ill intentions. Having defected to the good guys, she bats her lashes at Pierce and flashes dagger-eyes at the evildoers. The stogie-chewing, wisecracking Kowalski is the lovable oaf in residence. From Takoma Park, Md., and Washington D.C., to Somalia, Dubai, the Carolinas and points between, the team hurries, the time zones helpfully noted. A predictable tale in which the hits, and the blood spatter, just keep coming.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Kirkus Reviews –

Pratchett, author of the esteemed Discworld yarns (Snuff, 2011, etc.), and collaborator Baxter (Stone Spring, 2011, etc.) venture into alternate worlds. Eccentric, reclusive genius Willis Linsay of Madison, Wis., publishes on the web instructions for building a strange device consisting of a handful of common components, some wires, a three-way control and a potato. A flick of the switch ("west" or "east") sends the builder into an alternate Earth--one of a possibly infinite sequence--where there are no humans at all, though there are other creatures descended from hominid stock. Some people are natural "steppers," able to step into the Long Earth without any device. Another minority are phobics, unable to step at all. Steppers can take with them only what they can carry, while iron in any form doesn't cross. Thanks to the strange circumstances of his birth, Joshua Valienté is a natural. The transEarth Institute, a wing of the huge Black Corporation, offers him a job exploring and reporting on the new worlds. His partner in the enterprise will be a zeppelin inhabited by Lobsang, a distributed artificial intelligence whose human component was once a humble Tibetan. Meanwhile, back on Datum, the original Earth, officer Monica Jansson grows increasingly concerned about the anti-stepping rants of powerful demagogue Brian Cowley. Thousands of steps from home, Joshua runs into another independent-minded stepper, Sally, who turns out to be Willis' daughter. They visit a community, Happy Landings, founded thousands of years ago by natural steppers and trolls, gentle hominids who communicate via music. But both trolls and their viciously homicidal cousins, elves, are step-fleeing toward Datum from something very scary indeed. This often intriguing development of a science fiction trope takes a scattershot approach and could have used more of Pratchett's trademark satire and Puckish humor. Still, the authors have plenty of fresh insights to offer, and fans of either will want to tag along and see where it all leads.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Kirkus Reviews –

Scalzi (Fuzzy Nation, 2011, etc.) takes a stab at metafiction--and misses. In 2456, when Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to the xenobiology laboratory of the Universal Union starship Intrepid, he looks forward to participating in Away Missions. Peculiarly, however, experienced crew members invariably vanish just before the officers arrive with the mission assignments. Capt. Abernathy, science officer Q'eeng and astrogator Kerensky always go along, whether their skills are required or not, along with a handful of anonymous juniors. Worse, each mission always entails a usually unnecessary confrontation with improbable and hostile entities (ice sharks, killer robots with harpoons, Borgovian land worms) during which one or more of the hapless juniors get killed in dramatically horrible fashion. Abernathy and Q'eeng always emerge unperturbed and unscathed, while Kerensky consistently gets mangled but miraculously survives. If all this sounds like they're trapped in a bad episode of Star Trek, you're not wrong: They are. Somehow, and Scalzi declines to discuss the details, the actions taking place are being dictated by the half-baked scripts of aStar Trek clone series back in 2012. This, and its entirely predictable resolution, occupies 200 pages or so. The remainder comprises three codas set in 2012 that attempt to ground the aftermath in some sort of reality. Fittingly, the starship characters, those who aren't ciphers, sound and behave like teenagers. The plot you know about. Intriguing developments, fresh ideas, dashes of originality? Forget it. It's all vaguely amusing in a sophomoric sort of way, which is fine if you're an easily diverted sophomore with a couple of hours to kill. Check the date. If it isn't April 1st, you've been had.

The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

Kirkus Reviews –

When setting out to investigate Near-Death Experiences, it's best to employ an "enigmalogist." In Child's (Terminal Freeze, 2009, etc.) latest adventure, Dr. Jeremy Logan, Yale professor of Medieval History, has the right resumé, and his new client, H. Porter Stone, provides the enigma. Stone is the James Cameron of treasure hunters, and his current dig seeks the "holy grail of Egyptology," the secrets of the tomb (cursed, no doubt) of Narmer, the Pharaoh who united Egypt and became its first God-King. Logan is the man for the job, having exorcised ghosts and discovered links to legendary treasures around the globe, and thus he has Stone's respect and support. That means Logan is soon ensconced atop the Sudd, a vast primeval swamp beyond the far southern reaches of the Nile. There, Stone has constructed a fabulous floating exploratory complex, attempting to burrow 45 feet through a near-impenetrable mishmash of muddy water, "mire, and silt, and particulate matter, and foul decay as old as the oldest tomb," to find the three chambers of Narmer's legendary tomb. There are assorted characters in play, none beyond stock, including Jennifer Rush, wife of the head of the Center for Transmortality Studies. Ethan Rush is Logan's former classmate and his contact on this escapade. Jennifer was returned from post-car crash dead after 14 minutes, apparently equipped to indulge a representation of the soul of Queen Niethotep, Narmer's devious and ambitious consort. Niethotep speaks through Jennifer to apply the requisite curse. Stone and company defiantly access the funeral chambers, the quest for knowledge and fame outweighing superstition. There are drownings, deaths, methane explosions, and repercussions between Stone, the techno-types and the obligatory attractive young female Egyptologist. Ample gadgetry, New Age soul-shifting, and pyrotechnics sufficient to employ a stable of stuntmen when brought to film: Child's newest is the sort of thing to delight all those who got wrapped up in The Mummy. Think, a Dan Brown-ian adventure amongst Pharaohs ready with a pocket full of curses.

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