Friday, September 21, 2007

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

You might say that I lucked out when I stumbled across my "favorite author". Orson Scott Card manages to publish about two to three books a year, has about 50 books under his belt, and has written books, poetry, and short stories in just about every genre imaginable. His first publication of this year was Space Boy (my review), a very limited run by Subterranean Press, that was enjoyable but doesn't even compare to his latest collaboration with screenwriter Aaron Johnston, Invasive Procedures.

Invasive Procedures is the story of the dangers of genetic manipulation. It can certainly be classified as science fiction as Card dots his i's and crosses his t's when it comes to the science aspect, but I'd consider this one more of a bio-medical/political thriller. The setting is Los Angeles in the near future. Geneticist George Galen has created a group of super humans called "Healers". Galen is the villain of the novel, but he's a charming villain, the most dangerous kind. His Healers are giants, around 7 feet in height, have the bodies of gods, and go throughout the community recruiting the sick and homeless in a cult like fashion for Galen's genetic experiment - to help the human race evolve.

Here's where the story gets interesting. Galen has developed a virus that cures deadly genetic diseases such as Parkinson's, Sickle-Cell Anemia, etc. Viruses work by attaching to DNA and changing their structure and Galen has developed a virus that will do just that for these diseases. However, the virus he has developed is deadly to the general population and causes near immediate death. It can save the life of the few who need it, but can cause the death of the many to whom it is toxic. In steps Frank Hartman. Frank Hartman has been recruited by the Biohazard Agency, an FBI-like governmental agency, to develop an anti-virus to or vaccination to Galen's virus. Galen soon realizes the plans that the government has to stop his advancement of the human race and one thrilling novel ensues.

I've always said that I love Card for his characters, and this novel is no exception. Frank Hartman is one of the strongest heroes I've read in a while. Joining him in his race against Galen are Galen's test subjects, a group of homeless people that he picks up, offering them a hot meal and a bed, and while he does give them that, they also get much more than what they thought they were in for.

Dolores is my favorite of this group. She is an elderly homeless woman with no family who slept on a playground before Galen picked her up. She has extremely low self esteem, but a wonderful sense of humor and was a delight to read and my heart went out to her. Nick and Jonathan were two younger punk kids who were homeless heroin addicts. Both put up a tough front, but Card shows us the young kid inside just begging for help and love. There story was touching as well. Hal, I had no sympathy for! Hal is a drunk who is arrogant and loud when he's picked up and remains that way throughout the book...he just got on my nerves. And Byron is the last of the group. Byron was mistaken for a homeless person, but is really a tax attorney whose car broke down and he just needed a lift. He's a great guy and another strong character.

Put all of these wonderful characters together along with a doctor forced to perfom surgery on all of them against her will while her child is held at ransom along with one of the most thrilling and forward moving story lines I've read in awhile, and you get a book that is heart stopping and very meaningful in these days of lightning speed medical advancement...not that I think we're at risk of something like this ever actually happening.

This one just came out Tuesday, so it should be well stocked in most bookstores. I highly recommend as I usually do with most books :p But this one really was a 5 out of 5. It's based on an Orson Scott Card short story originally published in 1979 by the name of "Malpractice."


alisonwonderland said...

this one will definitely be on my list for the challenge! thanks for the review!

Chris said...

No prob Alison! It was a great read and a quick read. I haven't read something so fast-paced and thrilling in awhile. Very enjoyable!