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The Patron Saint of Plagues Paperback – March 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553383582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383584
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the near future, the city formerly known as Mexico City is the most populated in the world. Out of nowhere, a plague attacks without warning and quickly spreads across the city; unless it is stopped, it will spread across the world. An American virus expert, Henry David Stark, soon discovers that the disease is man-made. This is the first novel by Anderson, whose short fiction has garnered him some attention in the science-fiction community. The topic is timely (viruses and pandemics are hot), and the just-around-the-corner world is very well realized, full of smart extrapolations from today's technologies and social conventions. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Anderson has some serious writing chops, and he delivers a page turner that is at once a medical thriller, cyberpunk romp and provocative tease...a novel about race and class, science and faith.”—Salon.com

“A cinematic, futuristic techno-thriller with smarts and heart…This cleverly managed skein of cliffhangers and revelations begs to be filmed.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

“Very neat, impossible to put down, and I hope a book that gets nominated for some awards.”—Philadelphia Weekly Press

“This is Barth Anderson’s debut novel, and it’s a stunner…A book of high verisimilitude and exacting precision. Anderson has taken the monitory example of John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up, a Cassandra mode too long left moldering, and combined it with a typical bio-thriller such as Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain to produce a hybrid that is both scientifically and science-fictionally robust and still propulsively suspenseful."—Sci Fi Weekly, Grade A

“An exciting journey full of surprises.”—Dallas Morning News

“The topic is timely (viruses and pandemics are hot), and the just-around-the-corner world is very well realized, full of smart extrapolations from today's technologies and social conventions.”—Booklist

“Destined to find [a] highly appreciative audience…Anderson successfully joins with Greg Bear, Paul McAuley, and a few others in wedding genuinely SFnal speculation with the template of the formula thriller. There’s a genuinely thoughtful SF mind at work in The Patron Saint of Plagues.”—Locus

“A well-constructed, politically aware techno-thriller with an intriguing plot…when ‘best first novel’ lists get discussed next January this book will be one of the first suggested.”—Emerald City

“Tense, plausible and twisty enough to keep you breathless and guessing.”—Agony Column

“An apocalyptic prophesy masquerading as a near-future pandemic revenge thriller...riveting reading.”—Strange Horizons

“A smart, entertaining, imminently readable book.”—Maureen McHugh, author of Mothers & Other Monsters

“Barth Anderson’s inventive viral emergency may be set in a speculative near future of saints and cyborgs, but it has a persuasive real-world urgency. He nails the gritty essence of disease detection: frustration, exhaustion, obsession.”—Maryn McKenna, author of Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service

"The topic is timely (viruses and pandemics are hot), and the just-around-the-corner world is very well realized, full of smart extrapolations from today's technologies and social conventions."—Booklist

More About the Author

Barth Anderson is the author of two novels, The Patron Saint of Plagues and The Magician and The Fool (both from Random House) and the latter was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2009.

His newest work is The Book of Seven Hands, part of the Foreworld Saga and Mongoliad books, released as an e-book March 19, 2013.

Anderson's short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, and Talebones, and he won the Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction in 2004 for his short story "Lark Till Dawn, Princess."

Anderson is chief blogger at Fair Food Fight, specializing in shaking up the food and ag worlds. He lives in Minneapolis.

Customer Reviews

Good, solid science fiction, frightening in its plausibility.
Karsmu
This is a character and event driven story in which the author does masterful characterization so deftly his efforts seem invisible.
Colin P. Lindsey
Through the latter half of the book, the language didn't seem to be as much of an issue.
Brenda Pink

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Caesar M. Warrington on February 15, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An interesting (if farfetched) concept: By the 2060s Mexico is the world's superpower. Ruled by a high-tech savvy regime propped up by Mestizo racialism and a breakaway Church that has its own pope, the Holy Republic of Mexico extends from Venezuela to its recent reconquests of Arizona, New Mexico and half of Texas. The United States is beaten, fractured, and barely able to maintain much further resistance to Mexican desires for whatever remains of her western states. Into this scenario comes a plague that quickly kills those who are predominately of Indian background--in another words, the overwhelming majority of Mexico's population.

Too bad that such an intriguing backdrop like this one was ruined by flat characters in a confusing and quite boring mess of a plot from an author pathetically aping Crichton, Ludlum and (of course!) Dan Brown.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on June 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a debut book from a new author? You have to be kidding me. This is a powerful, literate, compelling, and fascinating story that will turn experienced writers green with envy for the talent on display here. Do they give awards for debut novels? Just give Barth Anderson three or four right now.

I didn't know what to expect when I ordered this book from Amazon last week. It popped up in my recommendations so I decided to give it a whirl and boy am I glad I did. Frankly, I don't even know how to categorize this book. It's set 60 years in the future, so you could try to label it science fiction, and while there are some elements of that, the label doesn't fit perfectly. If you like science fiction you'll like this book, but if you don't like science fiction this probably won't feel like science fiction at all. This is a character and event driven story in which the author does masterful characterization so deftly his efforts seem invisible. Good characterization is one of the more important elements in writing to me; if the characterization is poor or unbelievable it really kills a story for me. Since this could also be labeled a medical thriller I'll use this analogy: the best of all needle pricks is the one you don't feel. Anderson does characterization so well you simply don't feel it. I only noticed halfway through the novel that I hadn't even thought about the characterization.

The novel follows H.D. Stark, an experienced epidemiologist with the CDC, as he investigates an outbreak of Dengue in Mexico City in the 2060's. The world is a strange place politically...America is no longer a superpower, a mosaic virus has decimated our agricultural output and set us back several notches. Kazakhstan, an expanded China, Brazil and Europe have parity with us now.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Glenn O. Radtke on May 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Patron Saint of Plagues" is a fantastic book. (And never mind the `for a first novel" qualifier. It's excellent regardless.) Through the first five chapters I was into it like any other very good book, intrigued by the futurist research, the medical espionage, insight about political ideology abusing/using the religiously faithful, a hero I liked being with, etc. But at the end of chapter 6 I actually grinned and said out loud as I walked down the sidewalk, "This rocks!" In that short chapter, Barth Anderson simply (but not so simply) describes the progress of a virus taking over a human body in a way that had me actually holding my breath! That's what made me grin: The realization that I had been literally holding my breath reading about the cells, DNA, nuclei, sweats and fevers and hemorrhages of a disease in a body. I know this sounds ridiculous, I wouldn't have believed it myself --until I read Barth Anderson's throat-grabbing yet poetic prose. Anderson's technical research seems at a level that belongs in a science journal yet some passages read like the best of Gothic sublime. I have nothing but praise for this book. And even IF I saw weaknesses, anyone who can write about blood cells and nuclei in a way that is as exciting as Hollywood wishes its car chases were has my rapt attention for the rest of the book, my recommendation, and my anxious wait for his next novel.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Vortex of Madness on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a near-future science fiction thriller about a bioengineered plague that specifically kills a racial subgroup (indigenous native Mexicans). The reason? The typical villianous "doing evil to do a greater good" type of plot.

The action was decent and the descriptions of the way the bioengineered plague (masking as the Dengue virus) infected the body were quite interesting.

However, I felt the book was about 100 pages too long. Some portions felt padded for the sake of having a larger book. (Perhaps that requirement was forced on the author by the publisher -- or maybe more culling of excess material was needed during the editing process.)

Books about plagues have been around for ages, but now with bioengineering a true reality (or near future true reality, depending on your viewpoint), these types of plots seem to be more "scientifically" real, hence more believable -- more science, less fiction -- than before.

This book certainly delves alot into the inner workings of antigens, antibodies, immunoglobins (e.g., IgG, IgM, IgA, etc.), cloning, the CDC, and bioengineered diseases.

Being a science fiction work, it includes references to "wetware" (computer/hardware implants to enhance neuroprocessing and/or other bodily functions), and some interesting near future flying technology (i.e., flying motorcycles). A must-have for some types of science fiction nowadays it seems.

For those who like to read near-future science fiction that deals with an interesting plot about the decline of the U.S. and the subsequent rise of our third-world neighbor (Mexico) to the south; and bioengineered warfare; then this is the book for you.

I only wish the editor had cut out about 100 pages of fluff.
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