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The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson
Review by Drew Bittner
Harper Entertainment Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061340741
Date: 01 November 2007 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In some ways, the tale of Krypton's end reminds me of Horton Hears a Who, except with a less happy ending. Jor-El, master scientist of Krypton, warns the people repeatedly that the planet will die violently ... and very soon. His ambitious plans to evacuate Kryptonians to safety -- to a world he's identified as suitable for their survival -- are frustrated less by politics than by a stubborn refusal to grasp the truth.

Bestselling SF writer Kevin J. Anderson brings all this to the table and more in The Last Days of Krypton, a novel that delivers exactly what the title promises.

Starting off, young Jor-El is seen indulging his boundless curiosity, while Lara (his almost-girlfriend) is alternately bemused and frustrated with his absentmindedness. He nearly kills himself when discovering the Phantom Zone (a limbo dimension where nothing ages), but is rescued in the nick of time. And as Lara comes to understand Jor-El and his genius better, the foundations for the galaxy's most important love connection are laid.

At the same time, the ruthlessly ambitious Commissioner Zod is launching his plans to supplant the planet's ruling Council and make himself unchallenged emperor. Supported by a handful of dangerous allies, including the scheming Aethyr and the mute Nam-Ek, Zod's scheme seems unable to fail.

Only Jor-El and his scientific wizardry stand in their way. Problem is, Zod has a means of getting Jor-El's gadgets for himself.

Events speed forward with the arrival of Donodon, an alien with a functional starship. Fascinated by the new technology, Jor-El doesn't realize the danger Donodon is in; he's a target for the violent faction Zod leads, and a potential catalyst for his insurrection.

But everyone's plans are thrown askew by a terrifying intrusion: the capital city of Kandor is abruptly sealed within an impenetrable dome and shrunk down, then carried away by Brainiac, an alien artificial intelligence that collects bits and pieces of civilizations throughout the galaxy.

Zod narrowly escapes the fate of the Kandorians, only to realize that the ruling Council is trapped inside ... and Krypton is now leaderless. His time has arrived at last.

Zod assumes control over the world and begins construction of a new capital city, while Jor-El puzzles out the escalating natural disasters erupting across Krypton. At the same time, Jor-El's brother Zor-El is making an enemy of Zod --w hich will have explosive repercussions down the line, even as Lara discovers she's pregnant. ...

Known for his bestselling Dune collaborations with Brian Herbert and his epic Seven Suns series alongside a host of other novels, Kevin J. Anderson has a knack for telling epic stories with ground-level sensibilities. The protagonists of this story -- created more than half a century ago -- take on fresh aspects in this action-packed tale of impending doom. Jor-El, Lara, Zod and Zor-El jump off the page as their notable qualities -- curiosity, love, pride and stubbornness -- commingle into a volatile combination.

In the end, there's nothing to be done for the doomed world of Krypton. Yet, as with much great science fiction, Krypton remains a potent metaphor for our own world and the blindness, apathy and political games-playing around our most important issues. By tying our planet's implicit fate to Krypton's, however obliquely, Anderson raises his game to a new level ... and works in a bit of social and political commentary as well.

Plus, it's great to see a strong writer working in a field where his unfettered imagination can reinvent a very old and much-visited story.

Fans of Superman are certain to enjoy this story, but those who like an epic space fantasy may find plenty to savor as well.

Strongly recommended.

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