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The Genius Plague Paperback – October 3, 2017
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“This is great sci-fi, constantly pushing new facts and new thoughts at you, and—most important—weaving them into a plot as well.... Walton keeps the ideas, sensations and plot twists coming. Twenty pages from the end, you still don’t know who will win—or who deserves to. With this book and his earlier “quantum” stories, Walton has brought hard sci-fi roaring back to life.”
—WALL STREET JOURNAL
“David Walton, who wrote the stellar Superposition and Supersymmetry, deserves to be a lot better known than he is. The tightly plotted and smoothly written The Genius Plague proves that …. In Walton’s hands, what could be a straightforward ‘‘we must save humanity with science’’ thriller (not that there’s anything wrong with that), becomes, at times, a meditation on what makes us human and why that alone is a survival advantage…. A winner.”
“Paired with relentless pacing, an action-packed narrative, and a cast of interesting characters, Walton's fluid writing style and tightly constructed plot produce a virtually un-put-down-able read. Tonally the love child of Crichton's The Andromeda Strain and Aldiss' SF classic Hothouse, this is a page-turner of the highest order.”
“Fast-paced and engaging, this had me rapt from beginning to end. A surprisingly vicious, timely look at the line between humanity and its environment. Beautifully done. I am eating a mushroom omelet as revenge.”
—Mira Grant, New York Times–bestselling author of Feed
“David Walton is one of our very best writers of science-fiction thrillers, and The Genius Plague is a triumph from first page to last. This one will stick with you.”
—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night
“Riveting. David Walton gives us a wild ride through new territory.”
—Jack McDevitt, Nebula Award–winning author of the Alex Benedict and Priscilla Hutchins novels
"Once areader picks up Walton’s latest whirlwind sf thriller, she will not be able to put it down."
Walton infuses his latest novel with adventure, spycraft, humor, and shudders…. The Genius Plague freshens up the nature-versus-man archetype with an unusual “critter” and contemporary global politics, resulting in a page-turning read that is also thought-provoking. We may never look at mushrooms the same way again.”
“This original and frightening ecological response to human activity dances tantalizingly on the edge of believability. Adding to questions of species survival are chewy concepts that touch on individual choice and free will.”
PRAISE FOR SUPERPOSITION:
"This is the way sci-fi ought to be."
--WALL STREET JOURNAL
"An expanding universe of delight."
"Gripping, suspenseful and original, this is a page-turning novel that readers are sure to devour. ”
--RT BOOK REVIEWS
"Walton delivers fast-paced action, suspense and riveting mystery--all of it spinning about a core of vivid, speculative science. Enjoy some tense, imaginative fun."
--David Brin, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Existence
PRAISE FOR SUPERSYMMETRY:
“Thrills and spills and sheer excitement on full-throttle overdrive.”
“This sequel to Superposition is just as excellent as the first. Fast-paced, mind-bending, super-scientific yet fully accessible. . . . Full of new possibilities and probabilities, Supersymmetry gives readers a peek into what the future may hold and the cost that comes with it. This is a science fiction novel full of humanity and all its inherent beauty and ugliness.
--RT BOOK REVIEWS
About the Author
David Walton is the author of six novels and recipient of the Philip K. Dick Award for his first novel, Terminal Mind. Superposition and Supersymmetry are quantum physics murder mysteries. He is also the author of Quintessence, a science fantasy in which the Earth is really flat, and its sequel, Quintessence Sky. David lives a double life as a top secret engineer working with the US intelligence community by day, and the mild-mannered father of seven children at night.
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I've never liked mushrooms. Ever. I think the only way I've ever liked them was when my family in Indiana would go mushroom hunting and then my grandmother would deep fry them to where they basically melted in your mouth.. and I still doused them in ketchup. To eat something called a fungus just didn't compute in my brain and don't even get me started on the texture! So to take something that felt alien to me all my life and make it into an infection that literally lives in your brain, lungs, all your body parts, is absolutely frightening. And not altogether unrealistic, which makes it horrifying and delicious to read!
I've learned more about mushrooms/fungus and ways to decode things than I thought I ever would. For someone who has a large love for all things science and solving puzzles, this brought these two things together and I loved every part of it! The relationships between sons and father was a pleasure to read. Neil especially as he's the main protagonist. Him and his father would solve puzzles together, play scrabble and otherwise constantly massage each other's brains with cryptic messages, etc. This reminded me of when I was in high school and my boyfriend and I at the time used to write each other notes in Dethek, a Dwarven script. Yes, I'm THAT much of a nerd. I left a note somewhere around the house and my Dad broke the code and I remember him just being so happy he "still had it" even as he's apologizing for violating my privacy. Haha. Anyways, it sometimes felt like family reading about the Johns.
The bringing together of the worlds with the fungal infection, NSA and the fight to try and save the immense amount of humans infected was extremely well done. Detailed explanations of how this all could happen made it altogether frightening. Nothing scares me more than plausibility. There are still a million things in this world we are unaware of and biology (my favorite subject in high school) shows that organisms will adapt and thrive to stay alive.
Basically, if you love all things science and puzzly, then you will absolutely love this book. I was a little underwhelmed with the ending only because it seemed just to happen too fast and almost too neatly... but still leaves room for you to wonder what will happen next. I remember thinking... wait, that's it?? So half star deduction for that. Otherwise, I enjoyed this way more than I expected to going in and isn't that always a win as a reader?
The characters here feel real for the most part, though I would have liked to see Neil have more maturity rather than repeatedly behaving like a scatterbrained teenager. I just had a hard time believing he was in any way a suitable candidate for a high level security clearance. The dialogue throughout this book is snappy - the conversations sound like ordinary people and that's hard to do for many authors. The action and pacing is spot on as well. There are a number of developments that seem outlandish, yet that's the appeal of sci-fi - a dose of reality mixed with the fantastic and drizzled with fantasy. I really enjoyed this book. It's creepy, scary, too close to home (for me) and fun at the same time.
Without ruining the book and it’s many surprises. The Genius Plague is about a lot of things. Family acceptance, dementia and Alzheimers, the NSA and more. It’s a globe-hopping story that takes many twists and turns along the way. What if you could take something that made you smarter, but to be that smart you had to give away a little piece of you?
First and foremost, I loved this book. I can’t find many faults. His depiction and description of living with someone with dementia and Alzheimers is spot on considering I lived with my Grandpa who had it for years. The emotion around it on good and bad days (and especially good days for a while) is just perfect. So much so, I wonder if Walton has had a family member have this terrible disease.
I thought that the biological parts of this story were really well done. As someone who really enjoys his way around a bio-thriller (sometimes called Medical Thrillers), I thought that the research put into the topic at hand was excellent. I didn’t have any issues with this.
The character building was also great. I found myself really falling for these characters and hoping that they would make it out alive. When I had about an hour left in the book I was super worried about what was coming. I honestly didn’t know how it was going to end.
Sometimes I can predict a book early on while others it gets obvious the deeper you read. With The Genius Plague, I couldn’t figure out what was going to be on the next page let alone the next chapter or the end of the book. I thought that Walton did an excellent job keeping me as the reader in the dark with what was going to happen next. There wasn’t a lot of foreshadowing or hints as to what is to come next. It was a pure surprise from beginning to end.
I have to be honest, I was worried. I read another book about fungus (and enjoyed it) last year and I was worried that this would follow the same path. It did not at all. I was also worried that I was going to pick up yet another book with plague in the title and have it be little-to-nothing about a biological agent at all. I was wrong there, too. Sure, there’s a lot of action in between but believe me, the build-up is worth it.
Overall, The Genius Plague is definitely the best book I’ve read so far this year (sure only 5 days into the year), but I’m sad I didn’t finish it in 2017. It would have definitely made my Best Of list.
Hearing Nick Thurston perform the language that they were deciphering and trying to crack was easily one of the coolest parts of this audiobook. I’m not sure how closely Thurston and Walton worked together to get that part done, but it was well worth listening to the audio alone. His narration really made this and I’m glad that I listened to it instead of reading it.