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Slatewiper
     

Slatewiper

4.0 2
by Lewis Perdue
 

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* FACT: Our chromosomes contain billions of so-called "junk DNA" sequences. Some of them are the intact genetic blueprints of ancient gene-altering pathogens.

* FACT: Bioweapons designers are developing deadly, genetically engineered, killer life-forms that are triggered by race-and ethnic-related genes.

* FACT: DNA analysis shows that the human

Overview

* FACT: Our chromosomes contain billions of so-called "junk DNA" sequences. Some of them are the intact genetic blueprints of ancient gene-altering pathogens.

* FACT: Bioweapons designers are developing deadly, genetically engineered, killer life-forms that are triggered by race-and ethnic-related genes.

* FACT: DNA analysis shows that the human race has come extremely close to extinction in the past. One cause of this could have been a "slatewiper"-a lethal pestilence that nearly wiped the human slate clean.

* FACT: By the end of World War II, Japan's biowarfare arsenal was the most advanced in the world thanks to its inhumane medical experiments that equaled those of the Third Reich.

The time has come for . . . Slatewiper.

Lara Blackwood, genetic engineering entrepreneur and presidential advisor, receives a call from an old college friend who asks her help in solving a ghastly epidemic in Tokyo. She agrees to help and, with a single phone call, sets in motion a chain of death and mayhem stretching from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, and Japan.

To her horror, she discovers her life's work has been perverted to produce a revolutionary new genetic weapon that kills by turning people's own chromosomes against them.

Now Lara must risk assassination to expose the conspiracy behind "Slatewiper"-before a nightmarish terrorist scheme threatens the entire human race with extinction!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Slatewiper goes beyond the mundane of the medical thriller to weave a cunning blend of historical and ultra-modern fact fashioned into a stunningly unique plot to turn your own chromosomes into lethal weapons' . . . combining the best of a page-turning thriller with classic human stories is a hard road to follow; Lewis Perdue is running down that path full speed. If you want to check out a new, fresh thriller writer, run with him!” —James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor
Publishers Weekly
Humanity's very existence is at stake in this latest hair-raiser by Perdue (Daughter of God), a no-holds-barred biogenetic thriller. Lara Blackwood, founder of GenIntron, a company devoted to gene manipulation as a method of fighting genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and sickle-cell anemia, is a tough hybrid of brilliant scientist, beauty and fighter. As the novel begins, GenIntron has been forced into economic difficulty and bought by the internationally powerful Japanese Daiwa Ichiban Corporation and its racist head, Tokutaro Kurata. In his first move, Kurata perverts Blackwood's work by creating a new genetic weapon, graphically named Slatewiper, with which he intends to rid Tokyo of its hated Korean immigrants. Thousands of dead Koreans fill the streets, and puzzled doctors postulate a new and unknown disease. Kurata dreams of reviving Japanese militarism, refusing to acknowledge defeat in WWII and denying the horrifying Japanese atrocities of that war and earlier Asian wars. He plans to sell the deadly gene to nations wishing to eliminate their own minorities, or for use against enemies, while plotting to promote Japanese superiority and racial purity. Aiding Kurata is Blackwood's nemesis, Sheila Gaillard, as beautiful and brilliant as Blackwood and altogether deadly, and Kurata's nephew and heir, American-taught Akira Sugawara, loyal but finally driven to rebellion by the horrors he witnesses. Perdue never strays far from form-garish violence, one-dimensional characters, mechanical climax-but in the light of current medical epidemics, this is a timely offering. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Perdue (Daughter of God, 2000, etc.), a former investigative reporter who specialized in recovery of art missing in Europe, turns to bio-ethics and DNA analysis. Molecular geneticist Lara Blackwood, cofounder and CEO of GenIntron, a bioengineering lab, is an entrepreneur who develops new disease treatments with synthetic genes made from junk DNA in the human genome. When Tokyo is hit hard by a supermysterious, fast-acting "Korean disease" universally fatal to its victims, Lara, fired from GenIntron by its new parent company in Japan, Daiwan Ichiban, is taken on by the White House as presidential aide in genetic development. As it happens, not a single Japanese, only the detested Koreans in Tokyo’s Korean ghetto, die of the Korean Leprosy in the test run of an ethnic bioweapon that focuses the disease on people bearing Korean genes. The Slatewiper, whose synthetic gene reduces people to slime and then into a bloodburst, is the weapon by which Daiwan Ichiban’s top gun Tokutaru Kurata means to purify Japan of foreigners and boost fervent nationalism. The Saudis want GenIntron to formulate a bug that will kill all Jews in Israel, while actual production of the materials will be in Japan at Daiwan Ichiban. The president himself, apparently fearful of Tokutaru Kurata, warns Lara off from pursuing the source of the Korean Leprosy. But Lara has won two Olympic medals and begun a solo round-the-world sail, is tall for a woman, a martial-arts adept, and not to be dissuaded by a mere president. Clearly, the day must come when she goes man-to-man with Sheila Gaillard, the bad guys’ hugely vicious and skillful hit woman who murders one by one all of Lara’s scientific helpers as Lara works undercoverto unearth a bio-weapon for which she is partly responsible. And not even Sheila having her face splashed with frozen hydrogen can stop her. Rich research for science/action thrills.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765333032
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
10/01/2004
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,387,129
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Slatewiper


By Lewis Perdue

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2003 Lewis Perdue
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-0111-6


CHAPTER 1

Typhoon clouds churned across Tokyo's September skies. Beneath the clouds, down in the unfashionable northern prefecture of Toshima, workers at Otsuka General Hospital struggled through the gathering noontime dusk to clear the sidewalks of the dead and dying before the torrential rains began to fall.

Hundreds of the sickest lay scattered about like cordwood, blanketed by a miasmic stench that rose from suppurating skin abscesses and bloody diarrhea. Some were silent, others moaned in high-pitched whines as loudly as their weakened bodies would allow. The rotting stumps of arms, legs, and fingers attracted flies and showed bare bones. Flesh seemed melted off the skeletons of the dead.

Those in earlier stages of what the newspapers were calling "the Korean Leprosy" sat in stained trousers and skirts, hung their heads between their knees, moaning and coughing. Here and there, entire families gathered, creating microcosms of the crowd with their dead, dying, and walking wounded. Mothers and fathers cradled their children in futile attempts to protect them from a horror that attacked from within.

They matted the sidewalks, the lawns, the ambulance loading ramps; they filled the empty parts of the parking lot, even the spaces between vehicles. The truly fortunate lay thick in the hallways of the emergency room, where medics from the Self-Defense Forces went through the existentially futile motions of pumping the victims full of antibiotics and intravenous drips.

At the perimeter of the hospital grounds, SDF soldiers garbed in disposable overalls, masks, and rubber gloves worked away at the crowd, loading the live ones onto litters and into olive-drab transports. The gelatinous remains of the dead were scooped up with shovels and placed in a hodgepodge of commandeered makeshift containers: barrels, metal tubs, ice chests, soft drink coolers, even children's plastic wading pools.

Among the carnage walked three men: a white-haired Japanese man, about seventy, wearing a white physician's coat, and two blond Caucasians in jeans and sweatshirts who towered over him. The tall Caucasians each carried a large duffel. All three wore rubber gloves and surgical masks that left only their eyes showing.

The two Caucasians wiped steadily at their eyes that watered against the sharp caustic mist hanging over the hospital grounds. Around them, scores of SDF soldiers walked about spraying a disinfectant solution from large backpack pump applicators normally used for applying lawn chemicals.

The trio moved in lurches, a few steps in one direction and then a stop as the white-coated figure stepped ahead of the two others, turned to them, and blocked their way. They exchanged words, then one of the Caucasians would start off in another direction, leaving the Japanese man scurrying to catch up and repeat the process.

"We really have things well in hand," said the white-coated Japanese man as he stepped into the path of the other two once again. Dr. Yoshichika Iwamoto was chief administrator of Otsuka Hospital, professor at Tokyo University, and former member of the Diet. "You really didn't need to come," he insisted. "It is very kind of you, but so very unnecessary." Like most Japanese doctors, Iwamoto spoke English. Like many of them, he considered it a barbaric tongue.

Iwamoto's face showed none of the internal turmoil stirred up half an hour before when the two U.S. Army doctors had arrived unexpectedly. He wore his shiran kao — his nonchalant face — and tried to explain to them that this was an epidemic, a matter for specialists, that they would only be in the way. To his dismay, they had demonstrated that they were, indeed, experts in this sort of medical emergency, even pulling out published papers the two had coauthored, brought along for just this anticipated problem.

What Iwamoto really wanted to explain to these ill-mannered intruders was that this was a Japanese situation, something like a family emergency to be dealt with as discreetly as possible. That NHK, then other television stations, had broadcast stories since the outbreak of Korean Leprosy a week ago was intolerable. To air one's own dirty linen was disgraceful, unacceptable. He shook his head now as he thought about the broadcasts and the newspaper articles that followed. Soon, there had been attention from foreign journalists — more gaijin. Whatever happened to Japan for the Japanese? Kurata-san would fix that.

The news reports had brought these gaijin doctors. That alone was an insult, evidence of their lack of faith in his ability, in the ability of the entire Japanese race. Big, white, racist bullies who automatically assumed that little wheat-colored people couldn't handle things by themselves and so forced their filthy "help" on them. Iwamoto seethed inside. And their bad manners! They had arrived unannounced; it embarrassed him that they had given him no opportunity to welcome them properly.

They were so arrogant these ketojin, these Americans.

He said a small prayer of thanksgiving that at least they weren't Japanese forcing their help on him. That would create an on, an obligation, a debt that he and the hospital would be duty-bound to repay. Fortunately, gaijin were without virtue, without value. Those without virtue could not create on, nor were they to be afforded the courtesy or protection due true sons of Yamato. Iwamoto knew his only obligation was to rid himself of these two pests as quickly as possible, to keep them from hindering the removal process that was proceeding so efficiently.

They walked along in silence for several steps, making a wide detour around a man who retched convulsively at the edge of the street.

"I'm afraid you will not be comfortable," Iwamoto said hopefully as he stepped ahead of them and stopped their progress once again. "Our sanitary facilities are quite overstressed."

"No problem," said one of the gaijin. "We're Army. We're used to being uncomfortable."

"It's part of regulations," joked the second as he headed off in another direction.

Iwamoto cringed inside as he scurried to catch up with him. How could they be so insensitive as to ignore his distress? How could they miss such obvious communication?

Blocking their path, Iwamoto marshaled his resolve and tried again. "Ah, you see, we have limited supplies and equipment. I am afraid that —"

"Brought our own," the gaijin said almost simultaneously. One slapped the big duffel bag for emphasis, then turned and continued walking in yet another direction.

Desperation welled up hot and sour in Iwamoto's throat as he set out after them again.

In the distance, thunder rolled; stiff winds tore at the trees and rolled off the massive hospital building in chaotic gusts. Looking hopefully at the sky, Iwamoto maneuvered himself in front of them again and stopped. Instead of speaking immediately, he made a point of studying the weather carefully. The two Caucasians looked upward for a moment, then back at him as he spoke.

"These very early typhoons can be serious," he said. "It could be dangerous for you here." He looked expectantly from one white face to the other. "Perhaps you will be needed by your own people at Camp Zama."

The gaijin shook their heads synchronously, as if their necks were linked by gears. Almost as precisely, they turned and resumed their stroll.

Iwamoto made an audible hissing sound as he sucked in wind through pursed lips; he pursued them yet again. The older physician was winded by the time he stopped them again, this time just yards from the entrance to the hospital.

"It's a disgusting disease," Iwamoto said. "The soiling, the rotting, the bloody discharges — the odors."

Pungent antiseptic now masked most of the nauseating stench that earlier had hit the Caucasians like a squirming fist in their bellies as soon as they had stepped off the train at the Shin-Otsuka rail station.

"Look, Doctor, we've been through it before," said Lieutenant Colonel Denis Yaro, M.D., infectious disease specialist with the U.S. Army 9th Corps, stationed at nearby Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture. "We're big boys. This won't be the first time we've gotten shit on our nice white coats. We happen to think this is a pretty important situation, and we'd like very much to help you to get to the bottom of this weird strain of glanders — if that's really what it is — but if you don't want us here, then why don't you just come out and tell us that?"

I have been, Iwamoto thought to himself. But you are too thick to hear me.

"Cool it, Denis," cautioned Jim Condon, M.D. Condon was another army light colonel, an epidemiologist and internal medicine specialist whose offices adjoined Yaro's at Zama's Medical Corps facility.

They had come — in violation of specific orders for all of Zama's physicians to stay clear of the area — as volunteers, partly because they wanted to help and partly because Yaro hoped to snag a sample of a totally new, undiagnosed disease that could be turned into a publishable paper.

Iwamoto fought to control his anger. When he spoke, it was formally, stiffly. "The pathogen has not yet been identified," the doctor continued. "It does not seem to be any known bacteria, virus, or even a prion or single-celled amoeba or other organism. Because of this there seems to be no natural immunity and as a result, none of the patients has, so far, survived."

Condon and Yaro thought they saw a faint look of satisfaction.

"The genetic fragments we have been able to identify at this very preliminary stage of the investigation indicate that it could be identical to the unknown variant a-087 that killed all the inhabitants of that small settlement on the northeast coast of Cheju-do."

Yaro nodded his head. Condon saw the lightning in his colleague's eyes. Just two weeks previously, more than nine hundred people on Cheju-do — a small island in the South Sea some fifty miles south of the tip of the Korean Peninsula — had been wiped out before help could arrive from the mainland. Nobody knew where the disease had come from, but it ravaged the settlement and then, ten days later, seemed to self-destruct.

"You should also know," Iwamoto said, "that it is clear that this is a biotype that is more likely to exist in a carrier state specifically restricted to the Korean race. I believe —"

"Carriers! Race!" Yaro's tone was contemptuous. "You know as well as I do there is no such thing as a Korean race!"

Iwamoto stumbled back away from the tall white man and quickly caught his balance.

"This is all about power and politics and nothing about science," Yaro continued, his voice deep and angry. "But your use of those words — your use, Doctor — on television has been a disaster for Japan's Korean community. Your implications in all those interviews are impossible to miss. You're telling everybody what they want to hear: that Koreans are carriers of this dirty disease because they're racially inferior."

"I resent your implications that I —"

"Look, asshole, I was watching the television when you told one interviewer that it was as if the gods had invented the perfect disease to personify a race of people despised almost universally by the entire Japanese nation."

"Calm down, Denis." Jim placed a hand on his colleague's forearm. "Back off." But Yaro took another step toward Iwamoto.

"You're fucking Nazi hypocrites, Doctor. You and your countrymen. You occupied Korea, forced the people into slavery, kidnapped Korean women, and locked them into army-run brothels as "comfort girls" that soldiers raped day after day. A lot of people calling themselves 'doctor' used Koreans as convenient laboratory animals for Japanese medical experiments."

As Yaro advanced, Iwamoto stumbled over his own feet and sat down hard on the well-tended turf.

"That's enough, Doctor," Condon said firmly as he grabbed Yaro by the shoulders and wrestled him back. Iwamoto got slowly to his feet and dusted himself off. Jim Condon stepped between the two men.

"If this truly is only a Korean disease, then it poses no threat to my colleague or me, does it, Doctor?" he asked. "Why should we be concerned?"

With Yaro no longer an immediate threat, Iwamoto felt the searing anger rising from deep in his gut. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to center his emotions. He looked deep inside to avoid being provoked by the keto, but it was to no avail; he would later offer prayers to remove the shame of losing control.

"Of course it is a Korean disease, you round-eyed fools! We have the genotype. That is why this should mean nothing to you, nothing at all. These are Koreans! The dogs that these animals eat have more value, don't you understand? Treating them is beneath the dignity of the medical profession."

Iwamoto's outburst stunned them like a slap in the face. For a long moment silence grew large and awkward. Condon finally filled the void. Softly, his voice cold with barely restrained anger, he said, "Doctor, in our country, even dogs get medical care."

"Yes, and in your country, you also sleep with the kurombo — niggers — so what more is it necessary to say?" Iwamoto spat as if the words themselves had contaminated his mouth.

"Thank you so very much for your enlightened worldview. But we, Doctor, came here to figure out how to cure the dogs."

Yaro was quivering with anger. Condon turned him around, handed him the duffel he had dropped, and led him toward a family of six sprawled on an old tarp some ten yards away.

"There is no cure; there is only death!" They heard Iwamoto screaming after them. "Suit yourself! You are wasting your time! Only death! Only death!"

Fifty yards away a tall, young Japanese man dressed from head to toe in hospital white held a clipboard and walked from one devastated family group to another, taking notes and an occasional photo. Tears soaked the upper edge of his surgical mask. As Iwamoto's words ricocheted across the hospital's immaculately landscaped grounds and found the ears of Akira Sugawara, the tall, young man turned from the body of a four-year-old Korean girl and her grieving parents and watched Dr. Iwamoto walk away from the tall gaijin.

What is this hell? Sugawara wondered again. An irresistible alien gravity clutched at his heart, creating a weight so profound he was sure it would rip out the whole organ and carry it to the center of the earth.

What is this hell? And why had his uncle sent him to document it?

CHAPTER 2

The barrage of genetically engineered flavr savr tomatoes began slowly — as it always did — making red, wet thumps against the big, heavy Suburban. The Flavr Savrs arced out of teeming mobs that lined both sides of the brick-paved road, a new street cut at great expense through the Maryland countryside west of Bethesda. The road had its own exit off the Beltway and led straight to the gates of the GenIntron Corporation.

The mobs lining the street surged against the striped crowd barriers as the deep metallic burgundy Suburban approached; riot-clad policemen stationed along the crowd barriers looked nervously about, at the crowd, at the approaching Suburban, at themselves. As the police urged the crowds back behind the barriers, their hands lingered near service revolvers, batons, tear gas grenades, radios. The whack-whack of a helicopter's blades echoed in the street.

Those not throwing tomatoes waved signs demanding "No More FrankenFoods," along with scores of other placards calling for an end to genetic engineering, genetic testing, genetically altered foods, genetically engineered pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Most prominent among the signs were the slick and expensive ones from Hands Off Our Genes, a well-funded operation run by Elliot Sporkin, a biotech demagogue who knew nothing about science and everything about making a profitable career off the fears of a scientifically illiterate populace.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Slatewiper by Lewis Perdue. Copyright © 2003 Lewis Perdue. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Lewis Perdue studied biology and biophysics at Cornell University. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction works, including Daughter of God, The Delphi Betrayal and Slatewiper. Perdue lives in Sonoma, California.

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Slatewiper 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent idea but poorly executed. Much of the book is spent detailing certain Japanese cultural behaviors rather than moving the story along.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the only female superstar in the molecular genetics world, CEO Lara Blackwood runs GenIntron, a bioengineering lab, a firm developing cures or treatments for diseases using synthetic genes made from DNA. Lara feels good about her work and even serves as an advisor to the president. However, her perfect world crumbles when GenIntron¿s new parent company board fires her and Tokyo is devastated by a deadly disease that uses a person¿s DNA to kill he or she.

SLATEWIPER contains a synthetic gene similar to Lara¿s work that destroys people from within by converting them into slime. The Korean population residing in Tokyo is being eradicated as a genocide conspiracy of biblical proportion is happening. Lara is the only hope to stop Tokutaru Kurata from ethnic cleansing that will leave Japan for the Japanese. The quest becomes even more personal when Laura finds out that a hitwoman is killing off Lara¿s scientific associates.

Exciting, plausible perhaps even today, SLATEWIPER is a superb thriller starring a strong woman who, except for the macho male muffins, readers will appreciate. The story line is action packed yet the author makes sure the scientific basis for the theme is presented, easily understood in spite of the complexity of the topic, yet interwoven into the plot so nothing slows it down. Fans of scientific based thrillers will quickly realize that this book is worth setting aside several because once you start, you are hooked at a microbiological brain level to finish it in one sitting.

Harriet Klausner