ISLANDS: THE EPIDEMIC by PATRICIA SMITH.
'Islands - The Epidemic' is the first in the Islands trilogy. Six months into a experiment to prove self-sufficiency is possible at the bottom of the sea, a war breaks out and, soon after, the five hundred specialists lose contact with the surface.
'Palov Kilchinski stared the length of the room, his eyes fixed on the top of the stairs. Seconds earlier the whole world seemed to momentarily jump and, as his senses tingled painfully on high-alert, an explosion followed by a rolling roar impacted the twin doors leading into the basement. Triggered by a sharp shot of adrenaline, he blinkered, tunnelled vision focused on the timber. As the wood visibly billowed, swelling and straining against the lock and hinges. Palov instinctively stepped away- but it did not crack and the frame held. Fine dust escaped the base as the doors shuddered back into their seating, ballooning down the stairs to amass in a slow moving eddy until a dense shard-filled fog blocked the exit.....'
(To read more click on the book title)
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Again an engaging read from Patricia Smith, that builds through deft scene setting into character development that draws investment from the reader, into the slowly unravelling apocalyptic that is the scene for the story. Resource depletion leading to the politics of arrogance and destruction, unintentionally ignites the pandemic, in juxtaposition to the same science that provides the sliver of hope for the future, posits the ethical dilemma of humankind's own creativity. Just because we can, does it mean that we should?
The consequences are played out through the relationships of the survivors in the wake of events, who remain far from secure, as they come to realise the extent of the destruction and detail the impacts on their personal lives. The few brave souls who flit from the ark to report back discovering their worst nightmares as they forage for vestiges of hope that secure some future for humanity, embody the eternal hope in human beings that they can survive and rise above the destructive tendency of their species. Amidst the biological carnage they traverse, have they found the essential clues that will ultimately permit the ark to repopulate the earth? We shall have to wait and see.
An engaging and challenging read, my only regret is that the tension builds to a point where I was anticipating some climactic conclusion, being conscious of only a few pages to go, but then... well I won't spoil the ending, but I think I would now rather that part two of Islands was coming next, rather than part three of Distant Suns, although I am equally anticipative...
- N.J. Terry
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Disclaimer: Whilst Patricia is a colleague and friend this had no bearing on my review.