Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Silk Code

The Silk Code

5.0 1
by Paul Levinson

See All Formats & Editions

Phil D'Amato, New York City forensic detective, is caught in an ongoing struggle that dates all the way back to the dawn of humanity on earth--and one of his best friends is a recent casualty. Unless Phil can unravel the genetic puzzle of the Silk Code, he'll soon be just as dead.


Phil D'Amato, New York City forensic detective, is caught in an ongoing struggle that dates all the way back to the dawn of humanity on earth--and one of his best friends is a recent casualty. Unless Phil can unravel the genetic puzzle of the Silk Code, he'll soon be just as dead.

Editorial Reviews

[An] odd and thrilling mix of forensic detective work, intellectual history, and biological speculation. It's a rare thriller that actually achieves its goals both as a detective tale and work of boldly speculative SF.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Combining Neanderthals and mechanical looms, cantaloupes and coded butterflies, Levinson's debut novel (he's also the current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America) offers a flurry of amazing prehistoric technologies, demonstrating that the mysteries of our past can be just as fruitful as those of our future. A series of strange deaths draws forensic detective Phil D'Amato (returning from Levinson's shorter fiction) ever deeper into an ancient and ongoing biological war. D'Amato's vacation in Lancaster, Pa., quickly gets serious when an Amish man is murdered, then D'Amato's good friend Mo turns up dead. Before he dies, Mo tells of his investigation into the local Amish, of their homes lit by specially bred fireflies and their possible control of deadly allergic reactions. The rest of the novel's first part works like an expanded short story as D'Amato gradually learns to take the Amish biotechnology seriously. But after a harrowing rescue from incendiary fireflies, the main plot pauses, and its second part jumps back to eighth-century central Asia. This self-contained story follows young Gwellyn on his search to discover the secret of the Neanderthals, who may yet be alive. Blending exotic travel through the Byzantine and Islamic empires with Gwellyn's growing realization that the Neanderthals are far stranger than humanity ever imagined, this is the novel's standout section. The book returns to the likable D'Amato for its remainder, as he pursues a bewildering array of murders, deceptions and ancient bioweapons--all connected, somehow, in the recurrence of silk. Before its dramatic conclusion, Levinson's ambitious plot occasionally leaves his narrator--and his reader--at sea in loose ends and expository dialogue, but abundant, clever speculations, which creatively explain gaps in both ancient history and biology, compensate handsomely, providing more wonders than many a futuristic epic. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The sudden death of a friend from an apparent allergic reaction leads forensic detective Phil Levinson to suspect murder and exposes him to a bizarre conspiracy with its roots in the distant past and its repercussions in the modern world. Blending together a story of the violent extermination of a species of "singers" in the eighth century A.D. with a tale of 20th-century intrigue and suspense, this first novel by the current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America spins an ingenious web of genetic manipulation and anthropological evidence. A good selection for most sf collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Time Magazine
Levinson shows here that he has the talent to be one of SF's best writers, and this is far more than simple as entertainment.
Robert Killheffer
The Silk Code is Levinson's first novel, and it shows. He has thought up a fascinating concept that pulls together a wide and varied array of ideas and recent discoveries—from Neanderthal DNA and the habits of moths to the mysterious Caucasian mummies that have been found in Central Asia—but he's not quite skillful enough as a novelist to bring it off....

Nevertheless, what Levinson lacks in novelist's skills he makes up for with sheer conceptual verve. The ideas are interesting enough to make The Silk Code a rewarding book despite the flaws. We can hope that as Levinson gains experience and expertise as a writer, he'll lose none of his knack for provocative ideas, and he'll offer us books with pleasures of both kinds in the future.
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine

Kirkus Reviews
Science-fiction mystery incorporating one of Levinson's popular stories (first published in Analog) about Manhattan forensic detective Phil D'Amato. Narrator Phil investigates several unusual deaths—caused by severe allergic reactions?—in Pennsylvania's Amish country. He learns that the Amish have developed a number of advanced biological tools, such as lamps powered by fireflies, through selective breeding, and have a defense, derived from silk, against the allergic reaction. He develops a theory that the murderers belong to a concealed biological-whiz power group. Elsewhere, in a.d. 750, young trader Gwellyn becomes obsessed by a secretive beetle-browed people who play stone-bone flutes. Crucially, he leaves a document detailing his discoveries. Back in present-day New York, Phil investigates the case of a man who died the day before but whose mummified corpse appears to be that of a 30,000-year-old Neanderthal. At this point things get confused—Levinson inserts bits of omniscient narrative whenever he feels the need—but the upshot is that the gentle, highly intelligent Neanderthals have survived into the present by developing devastating biological weapons. Well-informed and imaginative, with an engaging protagonist, but poorly structured and desperately hard to follow. Levinson's debut is not an entirely successful graduation from stories to novel, but future appearances will be eagerly anticipated.

Product Details

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
Phil D'Amato Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in NYC. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel of 1999), Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006), Unburning Alexandria (2013), and Chronica (2014) - the last three of which are also known as the Sierra Waters trilogy, and are historical fiction as well as science fiction. His stories and novels have been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Edgar, Prometheus, and Audie Awards. His nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), and New New Media (2009; 2nd edition, 2012), have been translated into twelve languages. He co-edited Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion in 2016. He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, NPR, and numerous TV and radio programs. His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He was President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 1998-2001. He reviews television in his InfiniteRegress.tv blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Top 10 Academic Twitterers" in 2009.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Silk Code 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found The Silk Code to be wonderful. I had just finished reading Patricia Cornwell's 'Black Notice' and had been disappointed. A pinch of enthusiasm is worth a pound of technique. This was a real treat and had exactly what I had been looking for. It blends mystery and science fiction perfectly. One of the most pleasant aspects of the book was that it clear the author was excited to be writing it and that excitement really shines through. The plot was well thought out, creative and unique. I found the characters to be very believable. I never had any interest in the Neanderthals before, but found myself intrigued enough to watch a Discovery Channel special on them. I always have shelf space for books that expand my interests. The fact that people either love or hate it speaks to its originality. I hope that there will be sequel or at least more offerings from Dr. Levinson.