The Doomsday Genie
05: 17/ 08h45
In the Middle East Apache gunships attack an agricultural station in the desert.
In Thirless, Arizona, MayEllen Reickhardt is waiting to meet her friend, Lucille Cordoba. MayEllen and Lucille are cactus growers. They plan to visit the annual convention in Phoenix. They will never make it.
At the Ivan Wallin Field Reserve, an ecology station in the southern Mojave, Ake Johansson is carrying a roll of computer printout back to his office from the mainframe computer in the lab. The printout - covering the last few days' measurements in Sector 5-32 - is alarming. Soon Johansson will make an urgent call to his colleague, Kay McCann, at Berkeley.
In Atlanta CDC-based Will Grant is woken from sleep by a call from the ITU doctor at the Thirless Memorial Hospital. 'Well, I'm telling you this is a very strange case. We've already sent you specimens. I certainly hope you can help us.'
They don't know it yet but it is already too late. Something extraordinary, something very frightening indeed, is emerging - and their lives will never be the same again.
Ian Brooks for Lablit.com
"The Doomsday Genie is a fast-paced action thriller about a small group (of heroes) working against the clock to save the world from a nano-engineered bioweapon capable of killing anything in its path. Mother Nature has got it right by default. To mess with the natural order of things is to invite her wrath. The first fiction that explored this theme was Michael Crichton's unintentionally risible Prey. It was a distinct pleasure to see Ryan deal with similar issues in a much more sensible, and more horrific, way. Ryan's ability to give the characters' brief lives some meaning is an accomplishment that adds to the horror of their deaths. On top of all the fast-paced action, we also have the sub-plots involving hit men and mysterious strangers. Ryan really does ramp up the
"With careful attention to detail, and feeling no need to unduly embellish what is already an awe-inspiring environment, he takes us inside the dangerous world of CDC level pathogenic research: the places where plagues are studied."
Massimo Luciani, Thule Enterprise
When some people get hit by a mysterious disease, a task force of scientists is formed to discover its nature and find a cure. The characteristics of this disease are different from any known ones making their research difficult but its mortality rate is incredibly high so they need to hurry.
The mysterious disease spreads and affects not only humans but also other species. The research leads to a disturbing conclusion: it's the product of genetic engineering. The problem isn't just of the scientists who are looking for a remedy but also of the authorities that through the police and even the army must find its creators and try to contain a contagion which could become a catastrophe.
"The Doomsday Genie" is the kind of novel that you hope is science fiction but you fear it's not. In fact it's about a product of genetic engineering that hopefully now nobody can create but there's the doubt that someone with enough resources could actually do it today or anyway in the near future.
Initially you may have the superficial impression that this is one of the many stories already seen about diseases that spread and must be contained with a group of scientists looking for a cure. Instead, going on with the reading you see better and better that the basic theme is developed taking into account the state of the art of biology giving it an original interpretation.
Frank P. Ryan is a doctor and an evolutionary biologist who has also published several scientific essays, therefore he knows the science behind "The Doomsday Genie" in great depth. In the novel, the disease created through genetic engineering is described in a plausible way and the themes of the measures to contain it and to find a cure are treated rigorously.
"The Doomsday Genie" is a novel in which biology is inevitably the central theme and to appreciate it the best way it's an advantage to have some knowledge in this field. However, you don't need a college degree because in the parts where the concepts become very complex Frank P. Ryan explains them in a simplified way using the narrative trick to have one of the scientists explain them to someone from the authorities handling the crisis.The scientific side isn't given such depth only to make the story plausible: for example, when Frank P. Ryan describes the procedures to be observed to enter a laboratory where scientists work with the deadliest microorganisms he does it in such a way as to make us understand how any error in that work can cost you your life.
In this case the description of a scientific task can raise the tension in the reader, who can see the procedure from the point of view of the scientist who must pay absolute attention to work in the best possible safety.
The fact that the scientific side is treated very well doesn't go at the expense of character development. The scientists protagonists of "The Doomsday Genie" aren't spotless heroes but real people who have their flaws and their problems.
These scientists have families they communicate with during the crisis and this allows us to see not only their response to the tremendous pressure they undergo but also the reactions of ordinary people who don't really know what's going on but see a deadly disease that spreads more and more.
The plot of "The Doomsday Genie" is focused on the mystery of the disease with only a couple of parallel subplots that eventually fit into the main storyline and are used to develop the events in a better way. The story that emerges is complex but isn't unnecessarily burdened by useless elements so the pace is always fast. Events and plot twists aren't gratuitous but are intended to cleverly build a thriller to maintain the tension in a plausible way.
Overall, "The Doomsday Genie" is a very solid sci-fi thriller and a must-have for fans of this kind of science fiction.
Mark Salwowski, Australia
"It's a scary tale of what could happen if one scientist just happens to push the bounds beyond what is ethical. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys scientific realism mixed with a rollicking good yarn."
Gillian Bethstein, London
"I really truly enjoyed this thriller - it was a real page turner. I was fascinated by the subject matter and totally involved in the story. I would have high hopes for this one. It is gripping, well-written for its genre, 'of the time' and thoroughly engaging. I so hope it sells the film and TV rights for millions."
John Stratford, Cafe Scientifique
"A cracking yarn and very cleverly constructed - I thoroughly enjoyed it."