Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ancestor


Ancestor by Scott Sigler
Crown Publishing, June 2010
Hardcover, 425 pages
ISBN-13: 9780307406330
very highly recommended

Synopsis from the Publisher
“The ancestors are out there…you have to believe me.”
From acclaimed author Scott Sigler—New York Times bestselling creator of Infected and Contagious—comes a tale of genetic experimentation’s worst nightmare come true.
Every five minutes, a transplant candidate dies while waiting for a compatible heart, a liver, a kidney. Imagine a technology that could provide those life-saving transplant organs for a nominal fee ... and imagine what a company would do to get a monopoly on that technology.
On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, PJ Colding leads a group of geneticists who have discovered this holy grail of medicine. By reverse-engineering thousands of animal genomes, Colding's team has dialed back the evolutionary clock and re-created the progenitor of all mammals. The method? Illegal. The result? A computer-engineered living creature, an animal whose organs can be implanted in any person, and with no chance of rejection.
There's just one problem: these ancestors are not the docile herd animals that Colding's team envisioned. Instead, Colding’s work has given birth to something big, something evil....
My Thoughts:

Ancestor is a re-written version of Sigler's 2007 small press release (and previous to that his podcast release) of an earlier novel. I have no idea what was changed, but Sigler has a winner with Ancestor. It's a science fiction-thriller-horror novel with the perfect blend of fact-based science and action. In Ancestor, Genada, a Canadian biotech company, has a small group of brilliant scientists who are trying to genetically engineer an "ancestor" that will possess organs that can be transplanted into humans without risk of rejection. Seems plausible today, eh? And that is part of what made Ancestor so horrific - the reality behind the science.

Tension slowly keeps building throughout the novel, with a few bursts of release in either action (or some seriously funny descriptions and Stephenie Meyer jokes at times), until the action-packed ending. I could describe it as Jack Bauer meets Jurassic Park. Ancestor was really well paced and I found both the plot and the characters to be well developed, especially for a thriller. While I like to sit and read my books, be sure to check out Sigler's website if you enjoy podcasts. The word is out that there will be a sequel, which I'll be looking forward too - along with the awaited sequel to Infected and Contagious.
Very Highly Recommended

Quotes:

Paul Fischer had always pictured the end of the world being a bit more . . . industrial. Loud machines, cars crashing, people screaming, guns a-blazing. Perhaps a world- breaking bomb shattering the earth into bits. But here in Greenland? Nothing but packed snow, endless rocks, and the towering white vistas of glaciers sitting high on the horizon. No cities burning, no abandoned cars, none of that nonsense. Just a tiny virus, and some pigs. opening

Intel was almost positive that the viruses hadn’t escaped the Novozyme facility.
The key word being almost. pg. 4

The screen showed the high- angle view from a security camera. A lone man slowly crawled across a laboratory floor. He coughed over and over again, deep and wet, the kind that ties up your diaphragm for far too long, makes you wonder if you might not actually draw in another breath. Each ripping cough kicked out chunks of yellow-pink froth to join the wet bits that coated his chin and stained his white lab coat....
“You knew the guy?”
“A little. I’ve read his research, was on panels with him at a few virology conferences. We had beers once. Brilliant man.”
“He’s going out hard,” Curry said, his jaw rigid and grinding a little as he watched the man. “What’s happening to him?”
Paul knew that answer all too well. He’d seen people die just this way, exactly three years ago. “Doctor Matal’s lungs are filling with mucus and pus, making them stiff. It’s hard for him to draw air. He’s drowning in his own fluids.” pg. 5

“Oh, come on,” Curry said. “I’m not about to go licking that pinkish goo off Matal’s chin or anything, but how bad can it be?”
“The 1918 epidemic killed fifty million people. World population was just two billion people back then. Now it’s almost seven billion. Same killrate today, you’re looking at seventy million dead. No planes back then, General. There weren’t even highways yet. Now you can fly anywhere in the world in less than a day, and people do, all the time.” pg. 7

... pattern was the thing. Nightmares, then hallucinations, then a suicide attempt. Doc Rhumkorrf had already adjusted Jian's meds, but who knew if that would work?
Colding had to report this. Claus Rhumkorrf was brilliant, Erika Hoel was a legend, but without Liu Jian An, the project simply ceased to exist. pg. 21

"...We've just failed the immune response test for the sixteenth time. All of you, go work from your rooms. Maybe if we stop sniping at each other, we can find that last obstacle and eliminate it."
Jian nodded, then walked out of the lab and headed back to her small apartment. Sixteen immune response tests, sixteen failures. She had to find a way to make number seventeen work, had to, because millions of lives depended upon her and her alone. pg. 35

The term salt of the earth didn't go far enough to describe Detweiler. More like the rock on which that salt might crystallize. pg. 130

4 comments:

Scott Sigler said...

Thanks for the review, and I'm glad you enjoyed the read! Always nice to see a blog entry on one of my books. Those weren't jokes against Stephanie Myers, actually, but more poking fun at the authors who rip on her writing while she has helped create millions of avid readers.

Lori L said...

You're welcome, Scott! It really was an enjoyable book! I'm afraid I prefer to laugh at the Stephenie Meyers comments, but, as I've admitted in the Twilight review, I'm not her target audience. I would love her and her sparkly vampires too - if I were a 13 yr old girl.

Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Lori...this sounds like a good one. I like these kinds of stories.

Lori L said...

It is a good one! After Reading Ancestor, it creeped me out when 60 Minutes had a story about growing replacement organs in jars on Sunday. I had to turn the channel.