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Red Lightning    by John Varley order for
Red Lightning
by John Varley
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

When the action of the highly recommended Red Lightning begins, Ray Garcia-Strickland - son of pioneer Martian explorers from Earth, Manny Garcia and Kelly Strickland - lives the good life as a terrestrial transplant to the Red Planet where tourism is the major industry.

However, news of a mystifying disaster on Earth changes everything. An unidentifiable object traveling at nearly the speed of light crashes into the Atlantic Ocean and causes a massive tsunami affecting the Caribbean and the entire Atlantic coastal region of North America.

Because of concerns about the catastrophic events back home, Ray and his family immediately return to Earth where they discover unimaginable devastation and chaos throughout the eastern seaboard. Now they need to find answers to some questions: What had hit the Earth in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Was it an astronomical object? Could it have been an extraterrestrial starship? Is it possible that is was the wrath of God? Or - in one of the scariest possibilities - perhaps it was 'one of ours' and 'maybe it wasn't an accident.'

Then, making matters even more problematic for Ray and his family, Mars is under attack, and the waves of invasion and subsequent space combat threaten everyone’s survival.

Ray must move resolutely and heroically as he takes on the challenge of saving his family, Mars, and maybe the whole human race. To do so, he must find out what or who has caused the disaster on Earth and the attacks on Mars? What are the reasons? He soon learns, however, that the key to answering all the questions involves finding out who is in possession of 'the most powerful weapon ever made' and who seeks to control the brilliant mind of the person who made it all possible.

Red Lightning is a highly effective blend of hard science; social, political, and ecological commentary; quirky, engaging characters; and razor-sharp, satirical humor. An exciting, fully satisfying sequel to the heart-pounding, mind-grabbing, funny story begun in Red Thunder, the further adventures of Ray Garcia-Strickland and his family will win a place of honor on SF readers' bookshelves.

Varley, the Nebula and Hugo Award winning author of the Gaean Trilogy, Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, and Red Thunder, has been properly called 'one of science fiction's most important writers' (The Washington Post). Favorably compared to Heinlein by Locus, Varley - as he proves again in the fast-paced Red Lightning - writes 'superior science fiction' (The Philadelphia Inquirer) that is consistently 'inventive - strong and satisfying' (The New York Times). Get yourself a copy of Red Lightning and you'll find yourself agreeing with Tom Clancy who says that Varley 'is the best writer in America.'

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