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Mutant 59: The Plastic-Eaters Hardcover – February 8, 1972


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 8, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670496626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670496624
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,040,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James H. Rankin on February 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Speculative Science Fiction is a more rare genre than the ultra fantastic so commonly seen and therefore the more fascinating and sometimes frightening! As seen in this book, bacteria acquire a new taste, which might seem harmless to the average 'Joe', but the author takes one to the megalopolis of London where we soon learn that from one little accident, mankind faces a threat to its future and a sudden return to urban anarchy. Within the 246 pages of the 1971 hardbound is found a new world underground where MUTANT-59 finds refuge and new fuels, much to the horror of those above and below ground as anything plastic begins to disintegrate. The ramifications of this will amaze you and leave a certain unease haunting your thoughts for some time to come. It could be called a quick read, but it is so well written that it could provide a crash course in polymer education, yet it is never slow or wordy but takes you right along into the investigation by its intrepid protagonist, Luke Gerrard, and even into his love life to create a three dimensional character. Will he stop the speard of MUTANT-59, or will it cause the downfall of all mankind by breaking out of England?
The author did himself a credit in this version of speculative science fiction, but this book did not originate as such; it started as an episode of the British TV series "Dune Watch" which has not yet appeared in the States, and Mr. Pedlar also wrote for the TV series "Dr. Who". It is said that this book was inspired by the movie "Andromeda Strain" which also involved, eventually, plastic-eating bacteria and the problems they brought. The book was issued in both hard and soft cover, so Amazon may be able to locate it for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Russ Wigglesworth on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As I read the premise for the newly published "Black Monday" I thought of a book I'd read in the early 70's that involved plastic eating bacteria wreaking havoc on a modern world that used plastic in just about everything.

As I recall, the story is about two individual developments:

The first is a form of plastic that rapidly breaks down once exposed to oxygen (or perhaps just air) that is intended to address the ecological issues associated with beverage and food containers made of plastic (mostly soda bottles). The idea being that you remove a very thin outer layer from the container and consume the drink and simply toss the package because it will quickly decompose into harmless, maybe even eco-friendly chemical components.

The second involves a researcher who is trying to create a microbe that will "consume" plastics to solve a similar ecological problem.

The research microbe "accidentally" gets into the sewer system of London where there is ample supply of nutrient in the form of the remains of the oxygen sensitive bottles. The combination of the two quickly evolves into a strain that has a taste for any and all plastics.

Plastic gas lines meet with electrical wires that are no longer insulated by their plastic coatings and, well you get the idea. The bacteria follow anything that is plastic from the underground into the streets of London and civilization is threatened by the loss of all technology.

I particularly remember the ending leaving an opening for a sequel.

I never understood why it was not made into a movie. Perhaps it was too closely associated with The Andromeda Strain. Still in an age of Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and the Poseidon Adventure it seemed to be a perfect scenario.

If you can find it, it is worth a read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a bad book. It's formulaic in many respects, but is based on a rather original concept--the artificial creation of a microbe that exclusively eats plastics. As you can imagine, the release of such a microbe into a modern world would wreak havoc, as they say. Consuming all sorts of material invaluable Mankind's infrastructure.

At one time the book had been optioned as a film. I can see why it would have been attractive for development, but I can also see a number of weaknesses as to its transition from novel to feature film. The option apparently lapsed and the movie was never made.

There is a rather nasty scene toward the end of the novel that seems to have been included purely as an expression of homophobic hatred. It just comes out of nowhere and is pointless.
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By Terrance Baker on June 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was great back then, and still rates a Great Read today... A unique storyline is hard to find these days, and oddly enough, no one seems to have written any knock-offs. Plastic eating bacteria? I think the fact that this is very possible lends excitment to the story... As a bonus, it's one of those book you can read several times, and still enjoy it. Check it out!
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By Rich M. on May 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters was one of my favorite sci-fi novels in high school. It's a fairly good story for seventies sci-fi, barring a couple of minor plotholes. This book has some good characterization, given the stereotypes that the characters really are. But it's an enjoyable book, with a little more action than The Andromeda Strain, at least on the part of the main characters.

FYI: The story was also used as the basis for the first episode of the British TV show Doomwatch. This is much better than the show, given the usual inadequacies of television, even the superior British kind.
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