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Becoming Green Kindle Edition
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In "Becoming Green," the world is faced with the terrifying prospect of a new and unidentified epidemic that klls its victims quickly, and in the process turns their skin a disfiguring green cast. The twist in the story is the disease is the result of an illicit experiment in celluar biology conducted by a brilliant scientist whose deepest flaw is towering hubris. WIth a mission to save mankind from the scourge of hunger, he has engineered a means for people to employ photosynthesis, the energy producing function of plants, to create our own food. Using fellow members of his community as guinea pigs in his experiment and his wife as the unknowing agent for infecting people, the scientist engages in a process that defies all legal and ethical bounds. By extension, the experiment goes horribly wrong and bad things start to happen.
If the storyline, as described above, were all that the book were about, some readers may pass it off as too far-fetched or too "science-fictiony." But not so fast! This is a captivating storyline built brick by scientific brick, with Dr. Fox methodically providing the facts and explanations as to how something like this could happen. WIth our newspapers and scientific journals populated by articles on the very real advances in genetics and synthetic cell technology (think genetic crop alterations and cloning), suddenly, the story takes on a heightend relevance. Along the way, Dr. Fox delivers a crash course on facets of human physiology and anatomy, plant physiology, cell biology, and evolution, thereby demonstrating his encyclopedic knowledge and command of his subject matter. Using the book's most obvious example, when the disease begins with diabetes-like symptoms, Dr. Fox is there alongside us to explain in detail how diabetes works (as a medical condition).
Those with a shorter attention span, or with less tolerance for detail, might get bogged down in all the hard science, yet the science is written in a way for the layman to understand and make sense of it all. Moreover, it is this very detail that gives the book its strong air of authenticity. Suddenly, this unusual far-out idea becomes an entirely believable prospect of reality, if not now, then perhaps sometime in the not-too-distant future. After all, who among us doubts that the governement, corporations, and other instiutions are practiing high-level scientific experiments of all types in top secret, high-security labs?
There is an old saying that writers should write what they know about, and in the case of Dr. Fox, it is science and the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California, especially the area around the community of Mammoth, of which Dr. Fox knows a lot. Speaking to the former, hard science is the underpinning success of the storyline; to the latter, Fox's obvious love for and knowledge of the mountains is obvious. Whether intended, or as coincidence, the raw beauty of the mountains is juxtaposed against the horrors of a terror-inducing disease.
While the disease is the focus of the story, it is the array of characters involved that bring it all together. Here again, Fox brings authenticity to the story. The main characters are well-developed, each with strengths, each with weaknesses, and it is their well thoughout interactions that keep the reader engaged.
In conclusion, I found the book to be a remarkable page turner. While admittedly I had some time on my hands when I picked it up, I could not have forseen myself devouring it in three days! "Becoming Green" is solid on several levels, and is a book I would recommend to others, but what's especially noteworthy is that this is Fox's first effort at a writing style unlike anything he's published to date. And for that I salute him.
This book is classical science fiction based on real scientific concept but then expanded to unexpected consequences. This is a writer that I intend to monitor over the coming years.