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Plague Year Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2007

185 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This tiresome sci-fi thriller debut, set in postapocalyptic California, has an ingenious kickoff that unfortunately goes nowhere fast. Following the accidental release of a deadly nanotechnology (designed to fight cancer), much of the world's population is dead; in the California Sierras, above the plague's high-water mark (10,000 feet), Cameron Najarro, Albert Sawyers and their small group of survivors eke out a desperate living, turning to cannibalism for survival. Meanwhile, in the International Space Station Dr. Ruth Ann Goldman and her team are making progress on a vaccine. Things go bad quickly when Goldman and her team return to Earth to test a hypothesis: first, they crash land in the middle of a civil war, then they find that the military has its own plans for the vaccine. When the astronauts and mountain survivors finally meet up, Goldman is surprised to find valuable allies in Sawyers and Najarro, and the three set off with a few others to find a lost lab that may hold the key to stopping the nano menace. The timely idea may hold readers' interest, but only so far as their patience allows; though well-written, the heroes' lengthy journeys slow the story to a pace almost as tormenting as organ-liquefying micro-machines. (Aug.)
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"Carlson has crafted an exceptional, gripping debut that exposes the worst and best of humanity while maintaining a constant tension level that will keep the pages turning to the very end. The personal and political machinations are credible, the characters are well developed and the climax satisfying. This apocalyptic view of nanotechnology provides plenty to think about."

"An epic of apocalyptic fiction: harrowing, heartfelt and rock-hard realistic. A cautionary tale. Not to be missed."
-James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Judas Strain

"Part Michael Crichton, part George Romero, Jeff Carlson's Plague Year is deft and compelling, full of high-altitude chills."
-E. E. Knight, national bestselling author of Valentine's Exile

"Frightening, plausible and action-packed, Plague Year is one of the best debut novels in years...Jeff Carlson packs riveting storytelling with a lot of fresh ideas."
-David Brin, New York Times bestselling author of Kiln People

"A grim and fascinating new twist on the post-holocaust story, unlike anything I've read before."
-Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling co-author of Hunters of Dune

"Jeff Carlson is a terrific writer and Plague Year is a marvelous book, full of memorable characters, white-knuckle scenes, and big ideas. Get in on the ground floor with this exciting new author."
-Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Rollback

"Plague Year proposes a frightening new nanotech catastrophe, and uses it as a crucible to explore the best and worst of human nature. Tightly written and well-told."
 -Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo and Aurora Award-winning author of Axis and Spin

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101514X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441015146
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Carlson is the international bestselling author of PLAGUE YEAR and THE FROZEN SKY. To date, his work has been translated into sixteen languages worldwide. His new novel is FROZEN SKY 2: BETRAYED.

Readers can find free fiction, videos, contests, and more on his web site at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Craig Larson VINE VOICE on August 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Carlson's debut, though I do recognize it's not great "literature" or anything. But it was the perfect summertime read and an engrossing blend of intriguing science fiction, fast-moving thriller, and outright horror. This could make for a great movie if the right person came along. Carlson posits a new post-apocalyptic world: the Earth after a plague of nano-machines has killed off most of the world's population. Since the machines don't work at a certain level of atmospheric pressure, the survivors are now living on mountaintops and at high elevation. The U.S. government has relocated to Leadville, Colorado, the city at one of the highest elevations in America. We follow two different stories, that of a group of astronauts at the International Space Station who are desperately trying to come up with a cure for the nano-plague, and a group of survivors in California, struggling to survive on a mountaintop near a ski area. Carlson's story slowly draws these two disparate storylines together in a very believable and intriguing way as it becomes apparent one of the California survivors may know something about the plague's origin. A grim and sometimes depressing look at a possible future. Somewhat reminiscent of Wil McCarthy's _Bloom_, which also looks at the remnants of humanity in the wake of a nano-disaster.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Grumm on August 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A nano-virus outbreak occurs in the San Francisco Bay Area and spreads to the rest of the state in a matter of days. Within a week, the continent is infected. After 2 months the entire world. The virus is simple. It devours most mammal and bird flesh and makes a copy of itself. But it self destructs at .7 atm air pressure. Thus the last remnants of the human race cling to any mountaintop over ~9600 ft elevation. New wars and old hatreds flare up as the remaining scientists attempt to solve the nanovirus in India, Colorado, and aboard the International Space Station.

What I liked the most about this book was the little scientific details the author used. Unlike most pop-sci writers today, he actually sticks with his premise and considers all the consequences, both social and environmental. For instance, insects now rule anything below 10000 feet. China had time to militarily annex Tibet. Russia is struggling against Afghanistan. Germany, France and Italy fight over the Alps... He also brings up the science of nano tech, although it is only a surface view. I would have liked more there, but the flow of the plot would probably have been interrupted.

Anyway, I highly recommend it for people who like Post-apocalyptic stuff, or "realism" sci-fi.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lou Anders on August 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A grim and gritty near future in which a nanite that eats flesh has escaped from a research lab and decimated the world. The very small silver lining on this very dark cloud is that it can't function and breaks down above a certain elevation, so tiny pockets of humanity exist on mountain tops, slowly running out of resources and going through the expected horrors of surviving in isolated communities where hunger and desperation has had a devastating effect on civilized behavior. These few survivors can make quick runs down into this "invisible sea" however, scavenging as quickly as they can before they feel the burning sensation that indicates the nano-plague has found them and started feasting. At which point they have to hightail it back uphill before they loose too many pieces. After a few of these runs, you really start to show it. The novel is gruesome, dramatic, exhilarating, and, would make a great film. Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Spoering on October 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well, as first novels go, this is very good. In fact, Jeff Carlson writes like a veteran who has published many novels already. It all starts off with a few survivors living a subsistence lifestyle in the upper elevations of mountain ranges in Colorado and California. A nano-plague has reduced the population of the planet to a small fraction of what it was previously. Carlson writes in a style which includes much in the way of human interest, and he is great at character development, with a captivating plot. In addition, the science depicted here seems rather sound also. The novel portrays in great detail the struggles of these survivors and how they attempt to beat the odds, with the possible help from astronauts on the ISS. It is gruesome at times. This is a great read of near term hard science fiction, I highly recommend it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steven S. Hoffman on July 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has one of the coolest ideas I ever heard of, the idea that the whole world gets trapped at 10,000 feet because of a microscopic nanotechnology plague. It's an experimental cure for cancer that gets loose when someone tries to steal it that disintegrates all warmblooded life except at high altitudes where it self destructs. Billions of people are dead and the survivors are barely hanging on. The book starts in California in the mountains and also takes place in Colorado and in space, in the space station, where Ruth Goldman is trying to build an ANN, which is an anti-nano nano, to destroy the machine plague. The other heros are Cam and Sawyer, two guys in California who are some of the smartest and toughest survivors, which means they had to kill and even eat some of the other people to get through two winters. Sawyer has a secret. I won't tell you what but the whole book is full of action and surprises and cool settings and everything's on the line. It would make an amazing movie.

The Hoff
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