The Human Disguise
Tor, May 26 2009, $15.95
In just a few decades from now, the world is teetering on the brink of annihilation. The United States has become Fortress America closing its borders to keep out people who are carriers of the bio-plague, a man made disease that has killed millions across the globe. Carriers already inside the country are placed on reservations or dumped inside the quarantine zone that has become what was once Miami; NYC is a nuclear wasteland. Iran has been nuked back to the Stone Age and Germany is marching towards Poland.
Unified Police Officer Tom Wilner is spying on his soon to be ex-wife Svala and her lover Tiget Nadonich when he observes guns being fired. A man is injured and not expected to survive; evidence is taken to the station. The man recovers and walks out of the hospital the next day and the evidence vanishes. Tom ends up with it, but to extended family groups, the Hallecks and the Simolits want what he has for radically differing reasons. Tom distrusts both families who seem more than human to him. Each has an agenda with the Simolits wanting to expand the Miami Quarantine zone so that his people can roam free of persecution. Tiget kidnaps Tom’s children to force him to hand over the evidence. Now it is personal as Tom must stop both sides while rescuing his kids.
James O’Neal describes a near future that is bleak and civil rights have become extinct except in fairy tales. Central government is weak and corrupt while convicts are sent to labor camps or front line military fodder. The world is excited about the coming of the Uralian aliens who have made contact and are coming to earth. The premise is riveting and the story line lives up to that theme with a deep mystery, plenty of intrigue, and action starring a former hero beaten down by the human collapse but not out as proven by his reactions. THE HUMAN DISGUISE is on a par with the works of Whitney Strieber.