Burn

Bill Ransom, Author Ace Books $19.95 (315p) ISBN 978-0-441-00246-7
Ransom's sequel to ViraVax rivals John Barnes's Kaleidoscope Century as the SF novel with the highest body count of the year. But while Barnes's novel is an exercise in machismo, Ransom's is a delightful romp with comic-book attitudes and plenty of flare. The villain here is Major Ezra Hodge, whose positions as both a high government functionary and an influential member of a religious sect, the Children of Eden, enable him to manipulate events with apparent impunity. Reporters, politicians, scientists and an assortment of terrorists die from the viral agent he unleashes. Readers unfamiliar with ViraVax may wonder why it might be possible to kill everyone in the world of 2015 by introducing the agent into only bottled water and Communion wafers, but the fast-paced narrative here maintains a tight enough scope to make this seem a minor issue. The ostensible heroes are a pair of genetically engineered children named Harry and Sonja; Harry's father, a spy and recovering alcoholic; and a virologist named Marte Chang. They escape most of their predicaments more through activity than ingenuity, while doing their research off the page. Readers looking for spectacle will find that this novel delivers more ``bang for the buck'' than most. Ransom maintains a jaunty attitude throughout (the one sex scene is both hilarious and necessary to the plot), and, while his characters are rarely more than two-dimensional, their adventures and the events that guide their lives are fascinating enough to carry the day. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995
Release date: 09/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-441-00362-4
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