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5.0 out of 5 stars "This is a genuinely frightening book."
-The Hartford CourantVIRUS CLANS is all of that and more. The really terrifying part of this book comes about halfway through, when you suddenly realize that the author has you believing that this incredible scenario could possibly be true--that viruses, through billions of years of trial and error mutation, are actually fueling evolution on Earth. The book follows...
Published on 11 April 1999

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1.0 out of 5 stars Reads like James P. Hogan on a bad day.
Truly awful; reads like James P. Hogan on a bad day. It's all there: the explanation of the Big Questions, the wooden characters, and the total absence of any understanding of the science. Let's take them in order.
First, the Big Question: there is no need to postulate anybody playing with human genes to explain the origins of intelligence. It is the result of an...
Published on 3 May 1998


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1.0 out of 5 stars Reads like James P. Hogan on a bad day., 3 May 1998
By A Customer
Truly awful; reads like James P. Hogan on a bad day. It's all there: the explanation of the Big Questions, the wooden characters, and the total absence of any understanding of the science. Let's take them in order.
First, the Big Question: there is no need to postulate anybody playing with human genes to explain the origins of intelligence. It is the result of an evolutionary arms race which has gone on for tens of millions of years. All the dominant creatures are smarter today than they were in the Jurassic. Predators get smarter to hunt their prey, prey get smarter to escape the predators, repeat. Man is just the extreme case.
Second, the wooden characters. All of Kandal's characters are stereotypes: the Obsessive Scientist, the Elder Mentor, the Woman Married to a Lunatic. These roles might work, if Kandal had enough understanding of human nature to make them act like people, rather than cardboard cutouts.
Finally, the science. Kandal has absolutely no understanding of either evolution or microbiology. He believes that evolution implies progress (it doesn't) and therefore it's a major puzzle to him where the progress comes from. He continually conflates proteins and DNA, and he does not understand viruses; he thinks they edit a cell's DNA, and repeatedly refers to them as "gene masters". On the contrary, a virus simply inserts itself into the cell's DNA, causing the cell to interpret the viral DNA as well as its own; the viral DNA then includes instructions for producing more viruses.
The only interesting part was the interwoven scenes of primitive life; but even that broke down, because insisting on alternating them with chapters meant that he had to come up with more life scenes than he really had room for, so we're subjected to spoilers and irrelevancies.
Oh, and he never explains what the viruses want--something about becoming ONE, but he never tells us what that means, or how the changes they're making would achieve it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, lousy book, 10 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
Kanaly's first book, "Thoughts of God," was good. This one isn't. At first, the vignettes of non-human life (ants, aliens, and so on) are impressive, but they're too short and sketchy to draw you into the story, and they never come together into anything more than fragments. They quickly become annoying and predictable. The human characters are too flat to pull you into the story either. And there's almost no glimpse of the viruses themselves. Since the idea of virus clans drew me to the book in the first place, I was frustrated when they never really appeared in the story. The writing is overloaded with sentence fragments and maddening repetitions. It was hard to stick with this book, and when I finished it, I wished I'd dumped it halfway through. It went nowhere, and left me depressed and stupefied. I almost called this review "Invasion of the Space Brain Virus Mutants," but that would make the book sound more interesting than it is. The ending does have a comic-book quality, though.
"Virus Clans" fails as science fiction, as thriller, as philosophical meditation. Read Crichton, Richard Preston, D. Preston and L. Child, or "Childhood's End" instead. Or read "Orgy of the Blood Parasites" by Kim Newman. It's got an even cooler title than "Virus Clans," and it's a hell of a lot more fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "This is a genuinely frightening book.", 11 April 1999
By A Customer
-The Hartford CourantVIRUS CLANS is all of that and more. The really terrifying part of this book comes about halfway through, when you suddenly realize that the author has you believing that this incredible scenario could possibly be true--that viruses, through billions of years of trial and error mutation, are actually fueling evolution on Earth. The book follows what might be the next evolutionary step for humans and the Virus Clans, whose own history is traced back to the first bacterium and beyond, into the cosmos itself. The story is both believable and convincing! Kanaly takes established scientific fact and moves it into the wide open arena of speculative fiction. For example, different insect species do, in fact, communicate using encoded protein molecules--so why not viruses? Recent studies on the human brain indicate an as yet unknown relationship between memory and protein molecules. VIRUS CLANS is a fusion of fact and fiction, of unique story-tellng and introspection. Turn the last page, and you will never look at the world the same way again. Poweful, highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An explosive read!, 5 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Virus Clans (Mass Market Paperback)
Kanaly's venture into the world of Big Ideas continues in this follow-up book to his impressive first novel, THOUGHTS OF GOD. In GOD, the author takes you on a journey through the cosmos, into the twisted heart of Man, and the provocative mind of God. In VIRUS CLANS, the journey is reversed, as the story deals with the smallest parts of life, the lowly virus, and its impact on evolution, both on Earth and in the Universe. Kanaly stretches the boundaries of respectable science, and in so doing stretches the boundaries of the reader's imagination. Bring your brain to this one, you'll have to think. But as in THOUGHTS OF GOD, the intensity, the insights, the expansive scope of the story makes it well worthwhile. A startlingly good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Roll over Mr. Darwin., 1 Mar. 1998
By A Customer
Compelling, intelligent, thought provoking and highly entertaining. What more can you ask from such a superb piece of speculative fiction? Michael Kanaly has created a well crafted story that takes you from the micoscopic microcosm of a virus, to the galactic scale (and time line) spanning our universe. A fascinating set of speculations on living intelligence, the origins of species, and evolution that will keep you entranced from the opening paragraphs until the final page. A most satisfying read that asks for a minor amount of suspension of belief -- but returns and rewards with a brilliant abundance of ideas. Highly Recommended.
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Virus Clans
Virus Clans by Michael Kanaly (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Dec. 1999)
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