Sunday, August 26, 2007

The White Plague-Frank Herbert

The White Plague
Frank Herbert
Tor, Oct 2007, $14.95
ISBN: 9780765317735

American molecular biologist Dr. John O'Neill, accompanied by his wife Mary and their five years old twins Mairead and Kevin, is in Dublin completing his project “An Overview of Irish Genetic Research” as required by the Pastermorn Foundation grant. However, they are only a few days in country when the terrorist bomb killed Mary and the kids as he watched them die and consequently killed his soul too.

John vowed vengeance on humanity for murdering his loved ones as he blames all mankind for their avarice. In his New England lab, he creates THE WHITE PLAGUE that kills women only; for without females there is no human race. Instead of coming together governments go it alone seeking a cure; scientific teams see future history books as each wants to be the Fleming of this age so none share their information with others. Firebombing the infected zones becomes the elixir of the moment. John returns to Ireland to take a first hand euphoric tour using his biochemist credentials as his visa. Others join his pilgrimage through hell including the terrorist who killed his family.

THE WHITE PLAGUE is an exciting reprint of an early 1980s cautionary tale that seems still relevant with the talks of weapons of mass destruction and the politicizing by the government of scientific research and data. The story line is at its best prior to John coming to Ireland as competition to be the superhero and superpower leads to further failures at a time when international cooperation and teaming are critical. Although the book turns overly philosophical when John and company begin his final victory tour, science fiction thriller readers will appreciate Frank Herbert’s warning in 1982 that government officials will use science for their dogmatic pampering of their supporters; just ask the Surgeon Generals.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: