Dust

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The change begins silently, imperceptibly, inexorably. One natural effect topples into the next, like an array of dominoes that stretches to every corner of the globe. Before anyone realizes it, the earth's ecology has utterly transformed itself. And the days of the old world are finished. In an idyllic Long Island community, paleobiologist Richard Sinclair is one of the first to suspect that the environment has begun to wage bloody, terrifying war on humanity. What initially appear to be random, unrelated events...
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Overview

The change begins silently, imperceptibly, inexorably. One natural effect topples into the next, like an array of dominoes that stretches to every corner of the globe. Before anyone realizes it, the earth's ecology has utterly transformed itself. And the days of the old world are finished. In an idyllic Long Island community, paleobiologist Richard Sinclair is one of the first to suspect that the environment has begun to wage bloody, terrifying war on humanity. What initially appear to be random, unrelated events are, in actuality, violent eruptions in a worldwide biological chain reaction. Along with a brave group of survivors, Sinclair must learn to understand the catastrophe while it roils around them, slowly crumbling a panicked world and energizing a reactionary fringe that welcomes the apocalypse. The survival of humankind depends on finding an answer immediately - for all else is dust.
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Editorial Reviews

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When seemingly unrelated eruptions cause a worldwide biological chain reaction, talented paleobiologist Richard Sinclair and a determined group of survivors must uncover a way to end the turmoil. If they don't, it looks like humankind will go the way of the dinosaur.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"They're dead, I tell you! All the fungus gnats are dead!" screams a famous entomologist just before his protective suit is ripped apart and he's devoured by millions of vicious mites in this biothriller debut from self-described "scientific gadfly" Pellegrino. According to the publisher, it was Pellegrino's theory of dinosaur cloning that jump-started Jurassic Park; and his first novel does share with Crichton's novel a certain X-Files-meets-Scientific American appeal. What it doesn't have is the mighty Crichton narrative engine to carry it over the rougher patches of weird science. Pellegrino gets off to a good start: paleobiologist Richard Sinclair's Long Island neighborhood has been attacked by a deadly horde of mitesthe first indication that something has gone horribly wrong with the world's ecosystem. After the bugs kill his wife, Sinclair and his nine-year-old daughter escape to the relative safety of a nearby research facility, and Sinclair begins an investigation of the widespread insect extinctions that have brought on a host of other, world-threatening disasters. Meanwhile, a crooked former talk-show host with messianic pretensions whips up a frenzy among the hungry, frightened populace. Despite the promising ingredients, most readers will probably be so bogged down by overheated pseudo-jargon ("everything that was happening today was but the final blossoming of a stupendous explosion that had begun as a small flaremuch like... Richard's crystallization event") that they'll be rooting for the mites. (Mar).
Library Journal
It all starts with a massive die-off of fungus gnats. The fungus the gnats ate grows with nothing to control it. Worse, the bugs that eat the gnats have to find other food. Up the food chain the disaster moves until a horde of mites swarm ashore at a Long Island community, eating their way through every living thing. Scientist Richard Sinclair evacuates Long Beach with his daughter, Tam, leaving behind his wife, a victim of the mites' rampage. With other scientists around the world, Richard plots the course of nature out of whack as predators switch prey and entire species of insects die. As crops that depend on insect pollination perish, the commodities markets plummet, followed closely by the world's stock markets. When vampire bats start attacking humans, Richard fears the destruction of the world. Paleontologist Pellegrino has written a biological thriller that will convince readers to treat insects with more respect. His afterword discusses the events in the book and identifies which ones were based on fact. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/97.]Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Kirkus Reviews
Brilliantly scary (and highly entertaining) vision of eco-catastrophe, courtesy of the maverick scientist whose DNA-in-amber theory gave us Jurassic Park. Frogs dying off mysteriously, mad cow disease, toxic algae blooming in the ocean: Horror gets personal as Pellegrino (the nonfiction Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, 1994, etc.) paints his vision of how these events could all be symptoms of a collapsing world ecosystem. Scientist Richard Sinclair is helpless when clouds of "dust" devour everyone in his small town, including his wife. Escaping with daughter Tam to the Brookhaven Labs on Long Island, grieving Richard joins a team trying to puzzle out the incident. Soon it becomes clear that Earth is entering one of its extinction cycles, brought on by a mass die-off of ants, flies, and other insects. Within weeks the soil goes sterile, crops fail, India invades Pakistan, starving vampire bats bearing mad cow disease swarm into the Caribbean—and cities around the world simply "drop off the map." As a frantic Richard and a former rival, Leslie, succeed in "biomorphing" replacement insects from dinosaur-era ancestors locked in fossil amber, mobs begin attacking laboratories, urged on by neo-Luddite talk-show host Jerry Sigamond, whose hatred of science in general and Sinclair in particular runs deep. Recognizing the danger, the scientists prepare a huge dirigible to spirit away, … la Noah's Ark, the biomorphs and assorted children, but Sigamond's mob moves first. Only a nuclear strike—sent by a mad cowinfected officer in charge of an underground missile silo—allows the dirigible to take off. But when it breaks apart over the Atlantic, Richard must choose between saving hisdaughter or the biomorphs, humankind's likely last chance. Horrifying set pieces, lively characters, intense doses of cutting-edge research (too much of a good thing at times): first fiction worthy of comparison to Childhood's End and When Worlds Collide.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380787425
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.95 (h) x 1.25 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2005

    Run for your life here comes the dust mites

    I must say I expected a lot more than this book delivered. This book was very scientific to the point to where if you haven't study genetics for the past 4 years you could go completely brain dead trying to figure out what they are trying to explain. It focused on the scientific to the point to where it doesn't really develop any of the characters in the book. It is a very scary what if scenario, but it never really explains some things for example (WHERE DID ALL THE INSECTS GO). They just disappeared. The action at the end of the book is intense but it is over before it really even develops. It had the potential to be a great science fiction novel but just didn't really deliver to me. However I do recommend this book. It is a good novel of how humanity can be destroyed without a bomb going off. uhhhhh wait there are bombs also for you actions fans lol. All in all a good book, but only 3 stars here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    Great Fiction for the Practical Scientist

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book more than any I've read in years, but I owe much of that to the fact that I have a strong education and career-based background in genetics, entomology and ecology. I'd either already studied the many factual facets touched upon in this book, or was eager to gobble up those I did not know, or those fashioned by the author. This book is not for the casual fiction reader, but is more a frightening hypothesis based on purely nonfictional fact drawn from many different scientific fields. I saw negative feedback was left for this book, and if I had a weak background in science and was also very spiritual, I might've found the book tedious as well. However, since I am neither of those, I found the book amazing, and felt a kindred spirit to the main characters and author. Recommend to all those who need a break from Lab Meeting Journal Clubs!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2001

    *THE* Ecological Thriller of our time

    I rank this ecological thriller with Rachel Carson's Silent Sprint and Phillip Wylie's The End of The Dream. Pellegrino's unique view of 'The Big Picture' as a Paleobiologist (author of Darwin's Universe: Origins and Crises in The History of Life) and his own warped sense of humor (for instance, a passing reference to Stephen King's Survivor Type as an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical playing on Broadway) make for some snappy dialog and brilliant Crichton-esque asides on things like Prion-based diseases (Prions are the basis for Mad Cow Disease and Deer Wasting Disease, which can not be destroyed by cooking). I also appreciate that he introduces the reader to many different points of view about the ecological crisis, from a Rabbi who sees it in terms of the Old Testament God's wrath, to a Wiccan Priest who sees it as the expiration of our old covenant with mother earth, 'we've waited too long to renegotiate a sustainable way of living out our lease, and we're being foreclosed.' A lot of people have called this a novel of ecological collapse, but that is incorrect, it is a novel of the earth's ecology adapting as it always has, but this time into a form that has no niche left for Homo Sapiens...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2001

    Unreadable

    This book was awful. I am an avid reader and read a variety of books from History to fantasy, adventure to biography, but this book was unreadable. You didn't care for the characters, the action crawled and the book got lost in scientific minutia. I couldn't finish the book. I tossed it out. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 1999

    Best of the Year for Teens (and Adults)!

    I read this book over a year ago, read it again, and then lent it to two friends who were equally enthusiastic about it. Pellegrino is a brilliant writer in whatever medium he chooses, but this one is Pellegrino at his very best. It grabs you from the beginning and never lets up - just gets better and better! It's become a part of my life, since the things I learned reading it are constantly coming back to me as things happen in the world. I think it's worth noting that this book was one of the few which appeared in School Library Journal's 'Best Adult Books for Young Adults' list (December 1998, the books chosen by its reviewers as the best of the ones reviewed in 1998). This is a great book for adults, and for teens, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

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