Invasive Proceduresby Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnston
George Galen is a brilliant scientist, a pioneer in gene therapy. But Galen is dangerously insane – he has created a method to alter human DNA, not just to heal diseases, but to "improve" people – make them stronger, make them able to heal more quickly, and make them compliant to his will.
Frank Hartman is also a brilliant virologist, working for the
George Galen is a brilliant scientist, a pioneer in gene therapy. But Galen is dangerously insane – he has created a method to alter human DNA, not just to heal diseases, but to "improve" people – make them stronger, make them able to heal more quickly, and make them compliant to his will.
Frank Hartman is also a brilliant virologist, working for the government's ultra-secret bio-hazard agency. He has discovered how to neutralize Galen's DNA-changing virus, making him the one man who stands in the way of Galen's plan to "improve" the entire human race.
This taut thriller takes the reader a few years into the future, and shows the promise and danger of new genetic medicine techniques.
In this intriguing medical thriller from bestseller Card (Ender's Game) and screenwriter Johnston, George Galen, a disgraced geneticist, feeds and medicates the downtrodden with the help of a genetically altered band of helpers known as Healers. In the form of a virus called V16, Galen has developed an effective treatment for many incurable genetic diseases; the problem is that when V16 isn't expressly tailored for each individual patient's DNA, the results are disastrous. Enter virologist Lt. Col. Frank Hartman, recruited by the federal Biohazard Agency to catch Galen and create an antidote. As Frank and his team work frantically, romantic threads unspool, while Galen insists that if the government would just stay out of his way, he could save countless lives. Based on Johnston's screenplay for Card's 1977 story "Malpractice," the novel plays out with few surprises, but raises pertinent regulatory questions. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This novel began life as Card's 1977 short story "Malpractice," which Johnston adapted into an unproduced screenplay. The two authors then developed another screenplay, which has now been expanded into this medical thriller. Dr. George Galen is a brilliant geneticist, but his vast ambitions have put him at odds with the medical research community and led him to create an underground research project resulting in the Healers, a group of humans with beyond-normal strength and remarkable self-healing powers. Further work produces V16, a virus of cloned genes that can be tailored to cure diseases in a specific person. Unfortunately, the virus is quickly fatal to anyone else. Several bizarre deaths catch the attention of the U.S. Biohazard Agency, which taps Dr. Frank Hartman, an infectious disease researcher, to investigate. The novel follows Hartman as he becomes one of Galen's guinea pigs and then leads a group of other victims in an escape attempt. Although a well-known author of such popular sf as the Ender series, Card has written a medical thriller "ripped from tomorrow's headlines." Gratuitous gore and sex are refreshingly absent. Purchase where Card and medical thrillers are popular.
“This near-future thriller is based on Johnston's screenplay adaptation of Card's 1977 story "Malpractice," an early example of biotech sf...The novel wins the reader over on the basis of execution rather than conceptual originality, with pace, characterization, and chilling suspense all polished to a high gloss.” Booklist
“Orson Scott Card made a strong case for being the best writer science fiction has to offer.” The Houston Post
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Read an Excerpt
By Card, Orson Scott
Tor BooksCopyright © 2007 Card, Orson Scott
All right reserved.
Dolores never met a Healer she didn’t like until the night they took her away. It happened at the playground on Santa Monica Beach at about two o’clock in the morning. Dolores slept in the metal tube that connected the jungle gym to the swirly slide. For a homeless woman of forty, it wasn’t that bad of an arrangement. She had privacy here, and the garbage cans at the playground usually had enough juice boxes or snack packets to tide her over until morning.
A passerby would, no doubt, think Dolores older than her forty years. Time on the street had a way of aging a person in much the same way war did. Her greasy brown hair hung in knotted clumps beneath a black knitted cap. Her eyes were gray, distant, and tired. Years of wind and sun had leathered her face and left dark circles under her eyes. Beneath her heavily soiled trench coat were several layers of other clothing: T-shirts and sweatshirts and all kinds of shirts—far more than normal people would wear but just enough for someone who slept out in the cold.
Tonight the cold was especially cold, the kind that snaked its way into Dolores’s metal tube and then into the holes and folds of her clothing. It was a cold that had kept her up all night. And by the time the uninvited drunk man arrived, Doloreswas in a particularly sour mood.
He stumbled into the playground, smelling like a vat of cheap liquor. From where she lay, Dolores couldn’t see him, but he was making plenty of noise and sounded like trouble.
Go away, she wanted to scream. Take your booze smell and the vomit smell that’s bound to be right behind it and go away.
Instead he collapsed onto the slide, and the metal rang with the sound of his impact.
Dolores inchwormed her way to the end of the tube and looked down. There he was, sprawled on his back in the sand, his arms spread wide, his mouth slightly agape. He must have slid right off the slide after falling onto it.
Dolores shook her head.
Whatever you been drinking, mister, you must have burned a lot of brain cells, because no poorly buttoned flannel shirt and holey pair of blue jeans are going to protect you from this wind. You need layers, peabrain. Layers.
She wriggled back inside the tube. Not dressing for the weather was about the stupidest, most inexcusable reason for dying Dolores could think of.
She was debating whether to move elsewhere for the night just in case drunk man here woke up and caused trouble, when she heard voices.
“Here’s one, sir.”
It was a man’s voice, strong, probably a cop. Good. Get that stinking heap away from my slide before he throws up.
“He’s drunk, sir.”
Of course he’s drunk. You got a clothespin on your nose?
“He’ll do,” another man said. An older man, by the sound. And quieter. Like somebody used to being obeyed without having to push. The kind of person who shouldn’t be in an empty playground on the beach after dark, in the winter.
She knew the smart thing to do. Lie low, don’t make a sound. They obviously hadn’t noticed her. And that was always a good thing.
“Help him to the van,” the older man said.
The van? Cops don’t take drunks “to the van.” They either book them or roll them.
So who were these guys? She had to get a peek. If she moved really slowly, she could keep silent. Then again, if she moved too slowly, they’d be gone before she got to the end of the tube where she could see. So she needed just the right balance of speed and stealth.
Got it wrong. They must have heard her, because someone started climbing the ladder.
Dolores’s grip tightened around her tennis racket. She’d never be able to swing it, of course. There wasn’t room. But she could at least raise it warningly if she had to.
A face appeared. “Hello there.”
It was the old man. White hair. Trim white beard. And a smile so wide, you’d think he had just walked into his own surprise birthday party.
Dolores kept silent. If she ignored him, he might think her crazy and leave. Always better not to take chances with a stranger than to open one’s mouth and let them hear the fear in your voice.
“A little cold to be sleeping outside, don’t you think?” the old man said, lifting a hood over his head as the wind picked up.
It was the hood that gave him away. He was a Healer. Only Healers wore capes with hoods like that. It was their calling card. Dolores thought the capes and hoods rather silly-looking but understood that they were more functional than fashionable. The cape was like a flag, a neon sign, drawing anyone who needed a Healer directly to one. It said, Hey, I’m a Healer. Come to me if I can help you, and I gladly will.
They were the Good Samaritans of the street. Healers made it their mission to give out free food and to treat people who were sick or injured—getting in trouble sometimes because they had no medical licenses, but not in really bad trouble because nobody could ever prove that they were actually practicing medicine and because they only helped the homeless anyway, people who couldn’t help themselves or get help anywhere else.
The only thing odd about this Healer, however, was his age. Dolores had never seen an old Healer before. The ones she had seen, strolling along the Third Street Promenade helping the homeless there, were all young, healthy, bodybuilder types. Big guys. Always guys. And always big. Muscle big. Don’t-mess-with-me-because-I-can-break-your-face big.
But this Healer was anything but a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, though he didn’t look particularly weak.
“You’ll freeze to death if you stay out here,” he said, still smiling.
Dolores kept her expression blank but was inwardly happy to see him. Free food was free food.
The only catch was that Healers could talk your ear off if you let them. Wellness of the body and soul and all that, helping the species reach its potential. Whatever. Dolores didn’t care what religion they were preaching. She just listened and pretended to care, until they gave her the food. Then she’d politely thank them and be on her way.
“I’m George Galen,” he said. As if that was supposed to mean something to her.
Maybe he was waiting for her to tell him her name, but she wasn’t about to, so she got to the point instead. “You got any food?” she said.
“We do,” he said. “Sandwiches in the van.”
“I ain’t in the van,” she said. “Fat lot of good your sandwiches do me.”
His smile widened. “Turkey or ham?”
“Turkey,” she said.
Galen looked behind him and called down the ladder. “She wants a turkey sandwich, Lichen.”
Dolores craned her neck a few inches, just enough to see who it was he was speaking to.
A young Healer—the normal kind of Healer, with big bulging muscles and wearing one of those capes over his shoulders—nodded and hurried away. Another Healer had an arm around the drunk man and was helping him hobble away from the playground.
Galen looked back at her, gesturing to the Healer who had run off to fetch the sandwich. “Lichen is one of my young associates.”
“Lichen? That’s his name? What, he from Europe or something?”
Galen laughed. “No, no, I gave him that name. He is like lichen, able to grow strong even when the wind blows hard.”
Dolores rolled her eyes, not caring if the old man noticed. Crazy religion mumbo jumbo.
Galen didn’t look fazed.
They waited there in silence a moment until Lichen came jogging back with a sandwich in a small plastic bag. He handed it to Galen, who handed it to Dolores.
She unwrapped it and began to eat. It was good. The Healers always had good stuff. Turkey, yes, but lots of lettuce and tomato, too, and sprouts, and mayo—a real sandwich, the kind somebody might pay for, not the slapped-together crap that homeless people usually got. “Thank you,” she said. She might be gutter trash to most people, but she still had manners.
That didn’t mean she was a pushover, though. “I’d rather skip the sermon if you don’t mind,” she said.
Galen tilted his head back and laughed again. As he did, Dolores saw a glimpse of the gold ribbon stitched on the inside band of his cape collar. All Healers had some color there, she had noticed, usually red or blue.
It surprised her to see a Healer laughing. All the ones she had ever talked to were stiff as boards and always spoke in reverent tones, like the street was a chapel getting ready for mass.
“I’m not here to give any sermons, ma’am.”
She nodded. “Good to hear.”
“You’ve heard our message before, I take it?”
She took another bite. “I could give it myself. Keep the body and soul pure. Yadda yadda yadda.”
He laughed again. He was a jolly one, there was no questioning that. She even smiled back this time. The street had given her edge, but the charm of this George Galen was melting that away like warm sunshine. She even considered apologizing for not wanting the sermon.
He beat her to the punch.
“You have my apologies,” he said, “if my Healers preach a little overzealously. I hope they’ve treated you well otherwise.”
“Oh, they’re always nice. I had me a bad sore on my foot a few weeks back, and one of them gave me some ointment and a nice bandage.”
“And it helped, did it?”
“Healed up nice and quick.” She wadded up the empty sandwich bag. “That was good.”
“I have plenty more where that came from.”
The edge came back instantly. Dolores didn’t like the sound of that last statement. It sounded like those strangers who offered candy to children. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that we’re offering you a hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in tonight.”
“Whose bed?” she said immediately. “I’m not that kind of woman, if that’s what you’re—”
He laughed heartily, throwing his head back so far that his hood slid off and his bushy mane of white hair was exposed again. “No no no,” he said. “Nothing like that. You’ll get your own bed. Trust me.”
A warm bed. A soft one. And more food. “Free of charge?” she asked.
“Free of charge.”
She stared at him a long moment, waiting for the punch line or catch. When one didn’t come—
“All right,” she said. “Mind getting off that ladder so I can snake out?”
Galen obligingly descended. Dolores wriggled out and carefully climbed down after him.
They drove north along the Pacific Coast Highway. That was the first bad sign. Dolores had assumed they’d be heading back into LA, toward downtown, where a lot of the nonprofits had their offices, not north toward Malibu.
She was sitting between Hal and some other guy. Hal, she had learned, was the drunk man who had collapsed at the playground. Galen had asked him his name rather nicely when they had pulled over to let him throw up.
If Dolores thought he smelled bad before, it was nothing compared to the odors he was giving off now. No hot meal is worth this, she thought.
At least the homeless kid on her left wasn’t drunk. He seemed pretty normal, in fact. Fifteen or sixteen at the most, with black stringy hair tied back in a ponytail and thrashed black combat boots. Most punks his age would be running at the mouth and complaining about something. But not this kid. He just stared out the window and kept to himself.
“I’m Dolores,” she said. The idea of free food and a warm bed had suddenly put her in a good mood.
The kid in the ponytail looked at her. “Nick.”
Dolores smiled. “Nick. Now that’s a name. Can’t say I know many Nicks. Course there’s Jolly Saint Nick. You know him. Man, I love me some Christmas. Presents, stockings, those fancy decorations in all the store windows. Course some people have forgotten why we have it. They forget it’s the Lord’s birthday. It’s a shame, don’t you think?”
Nick returned his gaze to the window and said nothing.
So much for polite conversation, thought Dolores.
Behind her, sitting alone in the very back seat was another boy, Nick’s friend, also homeless by the looks of him, with the face of a junkie if Dolores had ever seen one. Kid probably wasn’t a day over fourteen, although the drugs made him look much older. He had shaggy black hair, wore a tattered trench coat, and sported a tattoo of a snake, which began somewhere under his collar and extended up the side of his neck.
“Your friend Nick don’t talk much,” said Dolores, turning in her seat to face him.
“Not much to say, I guess,” said the boy.
“What about you? What’s your name?”
“Why? You taking a census?”
Dolores made a face. “You’re the funny one, huh? The Teller?”
“Teller. You know? Penn and Teller. Magicians. One of ’em talks and the other one doesn’t. Maybe it’s Penn who talks. I can’t remember which. Marx Brothers had the same gag. Harpo never said a thing, just played the harp and honked this little horn.”
“I’m Jonathan,” the boy said.
“Like Saint John. From the Bible.”
“No, just Jonathan.”
“Fair enough. You and your friend Nick come along for the free food too, I take it?”
Jonathan looked out the window. “Yeah. We could use some free food.”
You and me both, thought Dolores. You and me both.
Up in the passenger seat, Galen sat whistling and tapping his fingers on the armrest. The driver was one of the big Healers, possibly the biggest Dolores had ever seen, nearly seven feet tall and thick as a horse. Unlike Galen, he seemed on edge, both hands on the steering wheel, leaning forward slightly as if the van wasn’t going fast enough for him. The Healer named Lichen sat behind Galen near the sliding door. He wasn’t nearly as large as the driver, but he was big enough to make Dolores wonder how many hours a day he spent in a gym.
“Where’s this place we’re headed?” Jonathan asked.
Galen turned around in the passenger seat and smiled. “Close, Jonathan. We should be there shortly.”
“Seems awful far,” said Nick.
Galen merely smiled again. “I hope everyone likes pot roast,” he said. “It’s been simmering for hours now. And twice-baked potatoes.”
Well that sounded right tasty to Dolores. She couldn’t remember the last time she had pot roast. Nowadays it was just whatever looked edible, put it in your mouth and chew. Don’t ask what it is. Don’t ask where it came from. It’s got nutrients you need. So eat it.
Yes, sir. I could go for some juicy pot roast about now.
Hal was of another opinion. “Pull over,” he said. “Gotta puke.”
The van immediately pulled over and the door slid open. Hal was out in flash, dry heaving over some sagebrush.
Dolores wasn’t sure which kind of vomiting sounded worse, wet or dry.
“Shouldn’t drink so much,” said Galen.
“You don’t say,” said Hal.
Dolores shook her head. This was downright unappetizing.
“You’ll feel better once we get some coffee in you,” Galen said.
Hal nodded. “Just give me a second.” He was still on his knees on the asphalt as he bent over and retched again. If it weren’t for the soundtrack, you’d think the guy was praying.
It was pathetic, really. Dolores couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man.
Hal stayed there for the longest time, not moving.
The other two Healers didn’t like this one bit. The driver kept looking at his watch and then up the road, like he was expecting someone or had an appointment to keep. Lichen stood outside with Hal, standing over him like a fidgety prison guard.
“It’s late, sir,” the driver said.
Galen put a finger to his lips. “Patience, Stone.” He rolled down the passenger window. “Are you all right, Hal?”
“Fine,” Hal said. Then he slowly got to his feet. Galen got out of the van and helped him back inside. It was kind, the way the old man treated him—paying no attention to the smell and not minding having to touch his filthy clothes. Like the Lord, Dolores thought: reaching out and healing the blind and the lepers.
They hadn’t driven two miles when they pulled over yet again. This time for a hitchhiker.
Are we driving or not? Dolores wanted to scream. All this talk of pot roast has worked up a hunger. Let’s get a move on.
Galen rolled down his window. “Need a ride?”
“More than you know,” the hitchhiker said, jogging up to the passenger window. “Thank you for stopping.”
“The pleasure is ours,” Galen said. “What’s your name, son?”
Dolores thought him a scruffy-looking fellow. Byron carried no bags, but he looked like a drifter. Three-day beard. Dirty blue jeans. A baseball cap with the Mack truck logo on the front. A denim jacket.
Galen, however, didn’t seem to mind the man’s appearance. He looked Byron up and down, as if measuring him for a suit, and said, “Get in. We’ll give you a lift.”
The door slid open, and Byron climbed in, taking a seat behind Dolores, next to Jonathan. As soon as Lichen had the door closed, Stone had the van in gear and on the road again.
Galen turned around in the seat. “I’m George Galen,” he said, then, pointing to the driver and the Healer behind him, “These are my companions, Stone and Lichen. My other guests are Hal, Dolores, Nick, and Jonathan there beside you.”
Byron gave a vague wave and smiled at everyone, not looking particularly comfortable with the crowd or the smell. “Nice to meet you,” he said. Then he addressed Galen. “My car broke down, and I couldn’t find a phone. Nothing’s open at this hour.”
“Your car?” Galen asked, as if he was surprised the man owned one.
“You probably passed it a mile or so back.” he said. “I would’ve used my cell phone, but it ran out of juice. How’s that for luck?”
“We have a phone back at the shelter,” Galen said. “You’re welcome to use that one.”
“That’s very kind. Thank you.”
Dolores caught Stone, the driver, eyeing Byron through the rearview mirror with a look of suspicion, like he suspected him to be trouble.
After a long silence Byron said, “You’re Healers, right?”
“That’s right,” said Galen.
“I’ve seen you around,” said Byron. “You do a lot for the community. That’s very commendable.”
“We heal what needs mending,” said Galen.
They passed two all-night gas stations, and Byron asked to be let out both times.
“Don’t be silly,” Galen said. “It’s warmer at the shelter. You’ll be much more comfortable there.” When they left the Pacific Coast Highway and started driving up into the mountains, Dolores got nervous.
“Must be a pretty secluded shelter,” Byron said. “I hope whoever I call can find it.”
Galen said nothing. Nor was he whistling anymore.
After a half a dozen turns up unlit roads, the van pulled onto a gravel drive.
Finally, Dolores thought. Finally we’re going to stop. This driveway can’t be long.
But it was long. They drove for another ten minutes, twisting and turning, the tires grinding the gravel. Dolores was beyond nervous now. She was the only woman in a van of six men, more than a day’s walk from the pier. She shouldn’t have agreed to go. She should have stayed in the cold. This was too far away, too strange.
She gripped the tennis racket tucked in her bag between her feet.
She wanted to make a break for it, push Hal and Lichen out of the way, slide open the door, and jump.
“I want to get out,” Nick said.
“No kidding,” murmured Byron.
Galen said nothing.
Then the gravel road widened and they pulled up to a building. The driver stopped the van and Galen turned around to face them.
“Here we are,” he said.
They all looked out the window. Dolores’s heart sank. This was no shelter. And no home either.
She turned back and saw that Lichen was holding a gun, or something that looked like a gun. “Everybody out,” he said.
Beside her, Nick began to cry. Copyright © 2007 by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston.
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Excerpted from Invasive Procedures by Card, Orson Scott Copyright © 2007 by Card, Orson Scott. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.
- Greensboro, North Carolina
- Date of Birth:
- August 24, 1951
- Place of Birth:
- Richland, Washington
- B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
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Wow. Quite simply put, wow. This is one of those rare novels where, upon finishing it, the reader is forced to sit and collect their breath, and eagerly devours the last paragraph over and over, willing the book never to end. George Galen is a brilliant genetic engineer who has fallen from the grace of his comrades, do to his radical, and somewhat unstable, viewpoints. Deranged, Galen forms a cult of 'Healers' who wander the streets, collecting transients and the infirm, assisting and treating them when possible. (In fact, I envisioned the Healers as a sort of twisted version of Jedi Knights.) While seemingly harmless and kind, these Healers are simply a portion of a grand design, conceived by Galen, to achieve immortality, and structure the world to his desires. The writing is superb, and the suspense is astounding. Galen, himself, is an extraordinarily complex character, outwardly calm, with a cheerful, almost happy-go-lucky, old-fashioned good nature about him, which masks the seering contempt within him. Orson Scott Card has once again proven himself worthy the genre of science-fiction, a true successor to such greats as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Now, my only question is, when is he going to be named a Grand Master of Science Fiction??? May the Force be with you all!
This book is amazing. Once you start reading you will not be able to put it down until you are done. This story is about the crazy and scary antics of George Galen, a famous geneticist. In the past he was shunned by the medical community for his radical views. Now Galen has his own followers called the Healers. Galen has genetically modified them and himself to be bigger, faster, and stronger, and heal faster. Also, the Healers submit completely to Galen's will. Galen has found a way to cure many gene related diseases using his new virus called V16. However it is only a cure for the person for whom it is created for. If anyone else comes into contact with this virus they will die a horrible death. This is the reason why the BHA or the BioHazard Agency of the United States government recruits a man called Frank Hartman. Hartman has just completed a counter virus for V16. This makes him the number one enemy against Galen and his cult of Healers. Another pawn in George Galen's master plan is Monica Owens, a heart surgeon. She and her son are kidnapped by Galen. Why does he want with her? And what is his master plan? Well you have to read to find out. INVASIVE PROCEDURES will add another amazing page turner to Card's long list of books. INVASIVE PROCEDURES has many more things then what I have written above, but I don¿t want to ruin the book for anyone. Once again this book is amazing and once you start you can not stop.-MW
It was ok. Wouldn't recommend it though.
You can't beat Card for engaging writing and this book based on an earlier story he wrote and reciently made into a book is no different. I don't usually like smaller books but this one still worked for me.
I bought this as a gift for someone who reads this author.
as i want to become a geneticist, this book was right up my alley. it was very good and interesting. the only problem i had with it was wyatt does not talk like a 6 year old. he seems older so its disconcerting to read what he has to say.
This novel will keep you up at night. You can not put it down once you start it, simple as that. It is well written, fast paced, and mind blowing. The other reviewer speaks of 'no twists'... well, I wonder if she read past page 100, because there are plenty of twists. This is a great novel in the vein of Micheal Crichton's last novel, 'NEXT'. Read it, enjoy it, then give it to a friend
George Galen is the leading geneticist in the world. However, the brilliant research scientist has no ethics except his own. Thus disgraced for crossing lines, his work healing diseases through fixing DNA via a virus V-16 has proven successful when customized to the individual when not properly adapted tragedy occurs. Galen also has tinkered with his patients¿ DNA to improve their healing capacity and to turn them into stronger and faster humans. Finally he also has insured this revised super model Healer obeys his command. To make his work pragmatic Galen needs the cooperation of a super thoracic surgeon. He targets highly regarded Dr. Monica Owens because she is easily vulnerable. He abducts her weakness, her six-year-old son, Wyatt. If she wants Wyatt kept alive, Monica will do Galen¿s bidding. She accompanies the insane Galen to an abandoned nursing home where he has a living lab of involuntary human guinea pigs for Monica to alter their DNA. Federal Biohazard Agency virologist Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hartman has found the antidote to Galen's DNA altering virus. The mad scientist plans to neutralize the threat by capturing and changing Hartman¿s DNA to make him less brilliant and more willing to cooperate. --- INVASIVE PROCEDURES is an interesting action-packed medical thriller that grips the audience from the moment readers meet egomaniacal Galen who blames government interference for his failures and his intelligence for his successes (classic conservative). The story line is fast-paced and fun to read although there are no twists as fans will know from the onset the end game. Still the cast is strong and the ethical questions raised on where to draw the ethical boundary on research and what is the government¿s role seems relevant with current debates over ideology twisting/ignoring the pertinent facts. --- Harriet Klausner
Being that Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors, I was very disappointed with this book, especially since the afterword says that the book was updated several times based on discussions with Ben Bova (also a favorite author of mine) over 30 years. The book is germane to recent events in sports concerning steroid usage and growth hormone and several cult incidents (Waco) that have been in the news over the last few years. The book concerns a cult led by a scientist, George Galen (wondering if the name Galen has anything to do with the famous Galen from ancient medicine?) who leads a group of 'Healers.' Galen's group siphons off medical records of people with incurable illnesses and then injects a virus into each of his selected 'victims' which alters their DNA and apparently cures the affliction. Since the virus is particular to the 'victim's' DNA, anyone else coming in contact with the virus dies a very painful death in a matter of minutes of coming into contact with the virus. This gets the interest of a government agency interested in finding those infected and giving them an antivirus to protect the public. As interesting as this sounds, the book is not! The government agents led by a doctor named Frank, find the lair of the Galen cult. Frank must try to find a way to rescue a bunch of homeless outcasts that have been given the virus, as well as the female doctor (Monica) who is treating them because Galen is holding her son Wyatt captive. Frank is virtually powerless to stop Galen's DNA enhanced Healer henchmen, who seem like something out of The Six Million Dollar Man (I guess since Card started this book in the 70's). The relationship that forms between Frank, Monica, Wyatt and the other captives is not interesting at all. The book tries to be a suspenseful action thriller with Frank battling the Healers, some of the captives, and rogue government men from his own agency. The story fails miserably in this regard. There is very little suspense, the relationships are not interesting and the descriptions of action sequences are very poor. Overall Card disappointed me with this book. I would suggest reading a far superior book that he wrote that has a lot of the same elements as this book called 'A Planet Called Treason.'