a few days ago

A novel view of the posthuman future

The tagline on the cover of Darwin’s Children reads “Evolution has changed the face of the world.” In the sequel to his brilliant 1999 novel, Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear now spells out the ways in which a dramatic event in the evolution of the human race has laid the foundation for a posthuman future. Not […]

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last week

Conflicted love during the Holocaust

I read historical fiction for the ways it can illuminate the past. When the characters are fictional, it’s the historical setting that intrigues me more. So, imagine my disappointment when it only gradually dawned on me that this novel was not about the Polish Jewish resistance and the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto in 1943. […]

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last week

The Apocalypse unfolds in this gripping science fiction novel

Imagine the apocalypse. The word may conjure up visions of a nuclear holocaust, a killer pandemic, an asteroid collision, or cyberwar so intense that it sets back civilization by a century or more. Usually, when we ponder an apocalyptic future we think of a single, overriding cause—and a change so sudden and total that it […]

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a couple of weeks ago

A brilliant novel about accelerated evolution

Evolutionary biologists tend to agree with Charles Darwin that new species can emerge only gradually over many generations. But in recent decades some have advanced a contrarian view termed punctuated equilibrium, or what I prefer to call fast-tracked evolution. They contend that evolution manifests itself in spurts, making it possible for new species to develop […]

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3 weeks ago

Hillary Rodham before—and after—Bill Clinton

Alternate histories explore the what-ifs of the past. What if the Nazis had defeated Britain before Pearl Harbor triggered the US entry into World War II? What if the British had captured and imprisoned George Washington? Or, as in the case of Curtis Sittenfeld’s intriguing alternate political history, what if Hillary Rodham had never married […]

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3 weeks ago

These alien invaders aren’t what you might expect

If you imagine Martian death-rays or eight-foot-tall bipedal lizards, think again. These alien invaders are called grubs, and for good reason. They travel in enormous packs. They’re “minuscule, maggot-like creatures” capable of aggregating in huge numbers and assuming any desired shape. And they consume just about everything in their path. Including trees and humans—trunks, clothing, […]

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last month

The Third World War breaks out in 2034, but not how you think

A squadron of three US destroyers sails on a “freedom of navigation” mission in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Nearby a smaller vessel is gushing smoke, and Captain Sara Hunt, the squadron’s commodore, orders her warships to veer off course to investigate. They find a small craft packed with electronic surveillance equipment, […]

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last month

Welcome to the apocalypse

Fear of the apocalypse has been with us for thousands of years. According to the mental health professionals at verywellmind.com, “Doomsday phobias are surprisingly common.” They’re found “in some form in virtually every corner of the world.” Sometimes these delusions are rooted in religion, sometimes in technology. But the paralyzing fear the world will soon […]

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last month

A Nobel Prize-winner’s perplexing science fiction novel

I hated this novel. I simply couldn’t see the point. But the author was a Nobel Prize-winner, so I kept slogging away to the very end. I’d figured there must be something worthy in it. After all, one of the world’s most celebrated authors had turned his attention to the subject of artificial intelligence. He’d […]

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