The Genius Plague

David Walton. Pyr, $14.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-63388-343-7
Walton (Superposition) trades quantum weirdness for the psychotropic action of botanical mind control in this mind-bending ecothriller that posits an Amazonian fungus is out to run the world. Neil Johns, an overly clever rebel, wants to follow in his father’s code-breaking footsteps at the NSA. To impress a high-ranking manager of a misfit group, he cracks the mystery of some indecipherable South American messages. At the same time, his older brother Paul, a mycologist, escapes Brazilian terrorists only to fall ill from a fungal infection. Soon, Paul and other infected folks show similar symptoms of increased intelligence and a sudden desire to protect the rainforest. Inevitably, Neil becomes infected and must decide how to use his powers. 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, such as a cure for Alzheimer’s that steals away individuality. The persistence of the threat of mind control leaves the ending open to interpretation. Agent: Eleanor Wood, Spectrum Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/14/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
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