The Genius Plague by David Walton
Prometheus Books: 10/3/17
eBook review copy; 400 pages
The Genius Plague by David Walton is a highly recommended
science fiction/plague novel featuring brothers set against each other
and a wide-ranging fungus.
Paul Johns, a mycologist, is returning from his trip through the Amazon
with a backpack full of fungi samples when terrorists attack the tourist
riverboat he is taking back to Manaus, Brazil. When he makes it home to
Maryland, he is immediately hospitalized with a life-threatening fungal
pneumonia/infection. He recovers but with a gap in his memory.
Neil Johns, the younger brother of Paul, has just managed to fulfill his
dream and follow his father's footsteps by getting a job with the NSA.
His father, Charles,
has Alzheimer’s, and will never know either of his sons'
accomplishments. Paul is assigned to a group that is given the almost
impossible to crack codes where he manages to figure out the obscure
language used in a series of messages from South America. Clearly
something out of the ordinary is happening in the Brazilian rain forest
and it is spreading
At the same time, Paul is recovering from his infection, but his
intelligence has noticeably increased. Neil takes note of the the
change in his brother, along with Paul's sudden
desire to protect the rain forest. This phenomenon is not just
related to Paul, but there are many others who have suffered from the
fungal pneumonia and recovered only to exhibit a remarkable increase in
intelligence, along with an uncanny ability to seemingly read each
other's mind and act in unison. The infected are spreading and so is
what seems to be some kind of mind control.
The brothers are on the opposites sides of what is becoming an
international war. Either the infection represents the next stage of
evolution or it signifies the end of the human race. Can humanity
survive this biological threat?
The Genius Plague is a well written page-turner that will
definitely have you staying up too late at night reading
just-one-more-chapter. The science is believable, well explained, and
Walton makes the case for a fungus to be a plausible threat against the
human race. He keeps the action moving at a fast pace in a
well-constructed and compelling plot. The brothers are both interesting,
well developed characters and their interaction with their father is
significant to the plot. There are also a wide variety of interesting
supporting characters to keep the plot interesting and moving along.
With the thrilling action, Walton adds in a few questions to ponder.
What price would you pay for ecological stability? What would you choose
if faced with the dichotomy of free will and individuality versus
working together in unison for the good of everything? At what cost is
mind control acceptable?
This is an excellent novel. The only questions I had about it were the
unlikeliness of Neil's employment by the NSA with no degree and I'm not
entirely happy with the whole ending, but that could be a win because
I'm still pondering it too.
My review copy was courtesy of Prometheus Books.