In “Deep Storm” (2007), Lincoln Child dives into some of the biggest science fiction ideas of his career without letting the story become untethered. While this, his third solo novel, ultimately hews closely enough to James Cameron’s film masterpiece “The Abyss” (1989) that I can’t say it’s entirely original, Child’s structure is masterful. He builds mysteries atop one another from the first page to the last, and each one plants a fresh hook.
From my first read, I remembered “Death Match” (2004) as being too similar to other works — dating back to the HAL-9000 portion of “2001” – and featuring one of those stereotypical Big Final Acts. But I got more out of Lincoln Child’s computer-tech thriller – his sophomore follow-up to “Utopia” – on this read. While the novel fits in the grand tradition of cautionary tales about artificial intelligence, it offers a tantalizingly fresh idea at its core: What if a computer program could find your ideal romantic partner?
Love and Monsters’ ” cast and crew is filled with people who have done apocalypses before, so perhaps having gotten the doom and gloom out of their system, they’re ready to say “Really, maybe the end of the world won’t be that bad.” Dylan O’Brien (the “Maze Runner” films), in a role Ethan Embry might’ve played 20 years ago, is Joel, a likeable but thoroughly normal young man thrust into adventure with a loyal dog, Boy, by his side. Joel searches for lost love Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Iron Fist”) amid a monster-riddled landscape.
After six novels co-written with Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child goes solo for “Utopia” (2002), which I remembered as setting a high bar for all his future works (a bar he sometimes passes). Set in a cutting-edge theme park, it’s thematically on par with Michael Crichton’s movie “Westworld” (robots who can learn) and book “Jurassic Park” (the unforeseen problems of newly implemented technology).
Adecade ago, Dark Horse gave us the previously secret backstory of Book in one volume, “The Shepherd’s Tale.” Now we get a similarly classy (and expensive) hardcover volume for Hoban Washburne – Boom! Comics’ “Firefly: Watch How I Soar” (November) — and it’s good, but it can’t be quite as good because Wash is pretty much the opposite of Shepherd Book. Serenity’s pilot is an open book, so to speak. Continue reading “‘Firefly: Watch How I Soar’ is a flighty but fitting tribute to Wash (Comic book review)”
Douglas Preston’s “Blaspehmy” (2008) has such a good premise that it hooked me twice. I remembered from my first read that scientists with a particle collider buried in the Arizona desert stumble upon God – or what they think is God – as they run their experiments. I didn’t remember how it turned out, so I got pulled in again on this re-read. Unfortunately, “Blasphemy” is also one of Preston’s weaker overall novels because everything except the God discovery is overblown and less enjoyable.
Novels where dinosaurs roam present-day Earth were left to the late, great Michael Crichton, and that’s as it should be, but Douglas Preston crafts an outstanding book with a T-rex as the absent center: “Tyrannosaur Canyon” (2005). Italicized segments evocatively describe the way the T-rex operated like a machine, with a brain nearly the size of a human’s but entirely devoted to killing and consuming meat; no long-term memory distracts her.
Tim Lebbon’s “Firefly: Generations” – the series’ fourth novel — finally came out in November long after its initial announcement, and while it’s not exactly worth the wait, at least it’s a new “Firefly” book. Lebbon, whose passion for the material also outstripped the quality on “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi,” delivers a story where the questions are more compelling than the eventual answers.
Boasting more adherence to how things might really happen than its forbearers such as 1998’s “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” “Greenland’s” (2020) strength as a rocks-from-space disaster flick is how weighty things feel. Writer Chris Sparling and director Ric Roman Waugh keep the focus on one Atlanta family – Gerard Butler’s John, Morena Baccarin’s Allison and Roger Dale Floyd’s 7-year-old Nathan – rather than cutting away to generals strategizing in control rooms with giant countdown clocks.
Like most fans, I thought “Volume 22: Memories of the Futures” (2013) was the final “Valerian and Laureline” book, but artist Jean-Claude Mezieres and writer Pierre Christin came back with one last (for now?) book, “Volume 23: The Future is Waiting,” in 2019. As with the previous entry, this reads like a gift to fans; its five short stories revisit famous characters and tropes (and some weaknesses) of the saga. The collection is up to the duo’s usual storytelling and artistic standards but is not an entry point; it’s for already-hooked fans.