on 30 January 2015
There are aspects to this book that are very cleverly conceived, and the story is innovative. However, in common with many books published to Kindle, it reads more like a first draft. If only the author had got someone impartial to read it and give constructive criticism, then acted on it, or if he had carefully reviewed each aspect of it himself, it might have been a very good book indeed.
There are many original ideas here which could have done with a bit more elaboration. In particular I found the relationship between the Singers and the female guide puzzling. Also the implications of the genetic issues could have been explained more clearly, as I didn't understand altogether the relationship between the Singers and the Amish. I found myself occasionally thinking "Who is this?" when a character came on the scene too, which is very unusual for me, as I read a lot. Maybe there are too many fleeting characters, or they are not too well defined.
Nevertheless, it is really difficult to find original ideas in science fiction, and it is a book to make the reader think, which is my personal preference. For a first attempt it is not bad at all, so I am looking forward to the next one in the series.
on 15 November 2006
Paul Levinson mixes LARGE ideas, from Amish scientists manipulating genetics the old fashioned way, to immortality and worldwide encoded plagues and immunities. The novel focuses for the most part on Detective Phil D'Amato, who is trying to determine why seemingly healthy people, including some Neanderthal-esque folks, are keeling over to violent allergic deaths.
There is a detour that takes us back in time to Neanderthal's, the Silk Road and some further clues. This break in the narrative threw me at first, leading me to see this first part as one short story and this as a second. But the last half of the novel moves quickly and pulls all of the ideas together nicely, while leaving events open for a follow-on story (I haven't yet read the rest of Paul's books, don't spoil it for me!).
Excellent hard-core sci-fi, especially in describing the Amish scientists doing in-depth gentics without lab equipment. The lanterns are especially cool.
Skipping ahead to read Paul's "The Plot to Save Socrates", then back to the other Detective D'Amato books.
on 22 April 2001
This book has a fairly intriguing start and some interesting premises develop but, somehow, by the end it has contrived to be less than the sum of its parts. I found the 'historical' chapter rather lost its way. Overall there did not seem an adequate explanation of the possibilities inherent in the overriding theme of the book.