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The Furies: A Thriller Hardcover – April 22, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Alpert, author of several technothrillers, including The Omega Theory (2011), adds an element of fantasy in his new book. The story begins with a guy in a bar being picked up by a beautiful young woman. Before their tryst can be consummated, the woman is nearly killed by armed assassins. John Rogers, the guy who had been hoping simply to get laid, is now on the run with the woman, Ariel, and he’s about to learn that she is not at all what he thought she was. In the course of the novel, Alpert asks us to believe that witches are real and that a small mutation in their genetic makeup could change the future of humankind. But—and as those who have read the author’s earlier books will know already—Alpert has a knack for making unbelievable things seem not only plausible but also completely real. The key here is Rogers, an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances, who has to learn a new reality on the fly; as he comes to accept, so do we. Alpert’s carefully constructed alternate history of witchcraft—and sorcery, too—is very clever. Good stuff. --David Pitt

Review

Mark Alpert knows his stuff and proves it yet again in The Furies. History, science, and witchcraft blend seamlessly into a taut, riveting new thriller that explores the secrets buried in our genetic code. From its frightening start to its explosive ending, this book had my fingers tightening ever harder on its pages. Here's a great story, expertly told. (James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Eye of God)

Alpert has a knack for taking complex theories and making them relatable. This time, the science, while intriguing, takes a back seat to the story. John and Ariel are characters that readers will care about, and fans of Jim Butcher and other dark fantasy authors will enjoy The Furies. (Associated Press)

Mark Albert blends science with history to create a riveting story of how genetics could explain centuries of witchcraft. (DuJour.com)

Alpert has a knack for making unbelievable things seem not only plausible but also completely real. … Alpert's carefully constructed alternate history of witchcraft--and sorcery, too--is very clever. Good stuff. (Booklist)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250021359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250021359
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARK ALPERT is a contributing editor at Scientific American and an internationally bestselling author of science thrillers. His novels for adults -- "Final Theory," "The Omega Theory," "Extinction," and "The Furies" -- are action-packed page-turners that show the frightening potential of near-future technologies. His first Young Adult novel, "The Six" (to be published in July 2015), is a science thriller about six dying teenagers who give up their failing bodies to become U.S. Army robots.

A lifelong science geek, Mark attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City and then majored in astrophysics at Princeton University. Working with his advisor, the Princeton theorist J. Richard Gott III, Mark wrote his undergraduate thesis on the application of the theory of relativity to Flatland, a model universe with only two spatial dimensions (length and width, but no depth). The resulting paper, "General Relativity in a (2 + 1)-Dimensional Spacetime," was published in the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation in 1984 and has been cited in more than 100 physics papers since then. (Scientists who are searching for the Theory of Everything are particularly interested in Flatland because the mathematics gets simpler when one spatial dimension is removed from the equations.)

While at Princeton, Mark also studied creative writing with poets Michael Ryan and James Richardson. After graduation he made the fateful (and perhaps foolhardy) decision to pursue poetry rather than physics. So he entered the M.F.A. writing program at Columbia University, where he took courses taught by Stanley Kunitz, Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, Susan Sontag and Elizabeth Hardwick. Two years later, when he realized that poetry would never pay the bills, Mark became a journalist. He started as a reporter for the Claremont (N.H.) Eagle Times, writing stories about school-board meetings and photographing traffic accidents with his beloved Nikon FG. Then he moved on to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he learned the history of the civil-rights movement by covering George Wallace's last year as governor.

In 1987 he returned to New York as a reporter for Fortune Magazine and over the next five years he wrote about the computer industry and emerging technologies. During the 1990s Mark worked freelance, contributing articles to Popular Mechanics and writing copy for the talking heads on CNN's Moneyline show. Throughout this period he was also writing novels and short stories, but the only piece of fiction he sold was a short story called "My Life with Joanne Christiansen," which was published in Playboy in 1991.

In 1998 Mark joined the board of editors at Scientific American. With his love for science reawakened, he soon came up with another idea for a novel. While working on a special issue about Albert Einstein, he was intrigued by the story of Einstein's long search for a unified field theory that would explain all the forces of Nature. Mark started writing a thriller about high-energy physics, incorporating many of the real ideas and technologies described in the pages of Scientific American: driverless cars, surveillance robots, virtual-reality combat and so on. The result was "Final Theory," which was published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2008. Foreign rights to the novel were sold in 23 countries, and the film rights were optioned by Radar Pictures. Touchstone also published the sequel, "The Omega Theory" (2011), which was about religious fanatics who try to trigger Doomsday by altering the quantum algorithm of the universe.

Mark switched from physics to neuroscience in 2013 when his third novel "Extinction" was published by the Thomas Dunne Books imprint of St. Martin's Press. In this thriller, the technology of brain-computer interfaces leads to the emergence of a new species of deadly man-machine hybrids who share a super-intelligent collective consciousness. Foreign translations of "Extinction" were published in Greece and Taiwan. In 2014 Thomas Dunne published Mark's fourth thriller, "The Furies," which told the story of an ancient clan who share a genetic mutation so shocking that they were persecuted as witches for centuries and forced to flee to the wilderness of America four hundred years ago. And in July 2015 Sourcebooks Fire will publish Mark's first Young Adult novel, "The Six," a thriller about teens trying to retain their humanity while trapped inside weaponized robots.

Mark lives in Manhattan with his wife and two non-robotic teenagers. He's a proud member of Scientific American's softball team, the Big Bangers.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carol Pisani on May 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Alpert has done it again. His books keep getting better and better. Reading the Furies was my primary goal over Memorial Day Weekend and it was easily accomplished. The book has a very clever premise and it is a real page turner. I could not put it down. Plus, it was nice to see him focus on a locale that is a bit off the beaten track. Well done Mark.

Dave Pisani
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy R. on June 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Furies is science novelist and journalist Mark Alpert’s latest gift to the science thriller genre, following his spectacular Extinction (2013). Furies is set in the present-day U.S. but offers an alternative history backstory, tilting it a little more toward speculative fiction than his other books. After a prologue set during a 17th century witch hunt in Europe, this fast-paced, imaginative thriller begins in New York with the collision of lonely guy John Rogers and a mysterious, alluring woman named Ariel. To his delight and surprise, a one-night stand begins, only to be violently interrupted. Instinctively John commits to helping Ariel, and from then on, their fates are linked.

Ariel gives John frustratingly little information about who she is, and who is trying to kill her. Their trek leads them back to John’s home territory in Philadelphia, where we meet a poignant character, an old friend of John’s who fell from being a respected surgeon to being a junkie who caters to the medical needs of the drug trade. Onward they rush toward a secretive farm collective on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, by way of a spectacular scene involving Mackinac Island and the ferry across Lake Michigan. John learns more than he should about Ariel and her family, the Furies. Because the Furies rely on secrecy to protect themselves from a hostile world, his knowledge marks him for execution.

I won’t reveal the Furies various secrets here, but I will mention that the science in this science thriller is related to the Furies X-linked mutation in a gene they call Fountain. Alpert does a great job of explaining sex-linked traits and providing a biological explanation for the unequal status of men and women in Fury society, invoking principles of gene regulation and protein-protein interactions.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Based on its synopsis, The Furies sounded like the kind of sci-fi/paranormal match-up stories I typically enjoy. Unfortunately, getting to the last page was more a matter of grueling determination than enjoyment thanks to detestable characters and a poorly executed plot.

Opening Sentence: She was smart and sexy and beautiful, but all that didn’t matter.

The Review:

Books about witches usually fall into one of two categories. The “double, double, toil and trouble” one most associated within the paranormal genre features women (or male warlocks) with magical or spell-related powers. The other uses the label for women who don’t quite fit into the mold that society cast for them or who have an “abnormal” knowledge of the world. In this category, it’s easier for male-dominated societies to attribute a woman’s intelligence to a demonic power than to think a female could be a male’s intellectual equal. To label a woman a witch was a way to balance the scales, to condemn her knowledge of which plants healed which injuries or illnesses as unnatural and reestablish the comfortable paternal rule. The Furies very firmly fits into the second category.

The female descendants of the Fury family are gifted not with paranormal magic, but with a genetic mutation that allows them to live for centuries without appearing to age. The intelligence these women exhibit thanks to decades of collective knowledge, as well as their seemingly eternal youth, has made them perfect targets for witch hunts throughout their long history. Which is definitely a good reason to be wary of outsiders. They’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hide from the others, accumulating wealth and building secret homes around the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By marianne kwok on April 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The whole family loved this book! It would be great to see this made into a movie - science with an exciting plot and interesting characters. Recommend it highly
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Johanna barat on May 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved the story. Was interesting exciting loving. I really like Cinderella endings but I guess I can cope with this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Schneble on April 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Furies obviously surpasses his other three exciting novels, primarily by spinning very cleverly genetics, an almost eternal existing Fury family; and a tale of love all together in one exciting and gripping novel. Most compelling is the fact that he makes the entire genetics bizarre concept seem almost real - almost feasible. Certainly The Furies is a must read and for any personal library, a keeper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tpolen on April 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I read Mark Alpert's Final Theory a few years back and enjoyed it, so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I was excited to try something else by him. When I saw genetic twist, thriller, and witchcraft in the description, I was a goner.

Rarely have I been thrown so many curveballs in the first 80 or so pages of a book - things I really didn't see coming, my mouth hanging open in surprise. These twists made me want to keep reading. The action began on the first page, with hardly any down time between sequences, and using a genetic mutation to explain witchcraft was very thought-provoking.

Initially, I empathized with John Rogers and his tragic past and many imperfections that made for a good protagonist; however, as the story went on, I began to lose respect for him when he did as he was told, without question for the most part, and seemed to accept his role as a second-class citizen. I really didn't connect with Ariel either. Although a strong female protagonist, I just didn't feel anything for her and the relationship between her and John seemed rushed and superficial.

Despite my character disconnect, I enjoyed the first 80% of the book - the writing was tight and the pacing was great. Then the story just seemed to veer off and lose focus. Around the 80% mark, I began to wonder if there would be a sequel because things didn't seem to be wrapping up, but I'm glad that wasn't the case and this is a standalone novel.

If you enjoy a more action than character-driven thriller with a touch of science and paranormal, I'd recommend The Furies - it absolutely didn't disappoint in that department. If you're looking for a character-driven story with an abundance of witchcraft, this isn't your book.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
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