So, some time ago, I copyedited a book for Steven Popkes called House of Birds. This has just been released, and, as I had a mental note to mention it, I’m glad I happened to notice that it has come out.
This may be a hard sell, because I think a lot of us are still kind of leaning toward low-stress books. (At least, I am.) During the first third or whatever of this book, most life on Earth gets destroyed, including basically all humans. This is not exactly a scenario that would generally count as “low-stress,” I realize.
Even so, I do recommend it. This is the case even though I don’t particularly like many of the characters. (I told you it might be a hard sell.) I mean, the main protagonist, Ian, is fine. Plenty of the characters are okay. I can’t really even put my finger on why I didn’t find them especially emotionally engaging — maybe just because this is a quite cerebral story overall, focused far (far!) more on the worldbuilding than on the characters. That worked well for me in this case, because less emotional engagement meant that I wasn’t bothered by the destruction of the world.
But all of that is about stuff that is just okay or just tolerable or whatever. None of that is why I actually loved this book and zoomed through the back half of it doublequick.
What this book has in spades is the best dinosaurs ever.
After Earth is basically destroyed, Popkes creates a whole new ecology, based on dinosaurs but with many unique features, on Venus. There is a frame story that explains all this, but I don’t really care that much. I just loved the dinosaurs and the ecosystem, and the founding of a new quasi-human population, and all that part of the story.
So, despite destroying the world in the first part of the book, Popkes rebuilds a different world in the back part of the story, and that is enormously fun for anybody who loves dinosaurs or ecology or founding a new world or anything like that. I definitely recommend you check it out if any of that sounds like something you’d enjoy. I’m going to pick it up partly to see what’s changed since the draft I read. That’s always interesting.