The Culling

( 2 )

Overview

When Dr. Carl Sims, a young and otherwise altruistic, virologist, discovers that a plot hatched by a group of international scientists to cull, in a matter of weeks, two-thirds of the world’s population—some 4.5 billion random, innocent people, by releasing a deadly virus that kills two thirds of those it infects, in order to reduce Earth’s population from an unsustainable seven billion to two billion, what is he to do? Try to stop the conspiracy or join it? Horrific, yes, but what if this culling could prevent ...
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The Culling

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Overview

When Dr. Carl Sims, a young and otherwise altruistic, virologist, discovers that a plot hatched by a group of international scientists to cull, in a matter of weeks, two-thirds of the world’s population—some 4.5 billion random, innocent people, by releasing a deadly virus that kills two thirds of those it infects, in order to reduce Earth’s population from an unsustainable seven billion to two billion, what is he to do? Try to stop the conspiracy or join it? Horrific, yes, but what if this culling could prevent the extinction of some forty percent of our planet’s flora and fauna species? Or if he was certain it was the only way to prevent an even larger human die-off, incurring significantly more suffering, by the end of this century? Or were convinced it represented the only hope for humanity surviving at all? This is at the heart of this thriller, for these viruses do, in fact, exist.

Most everything that plagues mankind today—the highest concentration of atmospheric CO2 in 3 million years, escalating extinction rates, habitat loss, fishery collapses, climate change, polar and glacial ice thaws, arable land loss and desertification, aquifer depletions, ocean acidification, unprecedented air pollution, looming famine and social unrest the likes never seen before, and the very real prospect that we have initiated Earth’s sixth mass extinction event—flows from humankind’s over-consumption and excess population. Simplified, the forecast for human life can be compared to the fate of yeast introduced into grape juice which, when it is transformed into alcohol by the yeast's prolific growth, poisons itself and the culture dies off.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/21/2013
Two horrible threats—one general, the other specific—provide the background for Johnson’s polemical first novel, a bio-ecological thriller. The first concerns global warming, overpopulation, extinction of endangered species, and humankind’s race to oblivion, which is summed up in the innocent-sounding phrase “the momentum of folly.” The second involves a plan to reduce, or cull, great numbers of people to “save” the world. Dr. Bronwyn Galloway, the head of one of the infectious-disease divisions of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, dispatches virologist Dr. Carl Sims to Guangdong Province, China, on a flu recon. From Guangdong, Sims travels to Laos, to investigate a virulent flu outbreak. Gradually, Sims becomes aware of suspicious anomalies, and finds himself an unwitting participant in a nefarious plot. Johnson (Thirteen Moons: A Year in the Wilderness) knows his science, but weak characterizations lessen the impact of his frightening scenario. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-25
Johnson's debut thriller could be more science fact than science fiction. In a Tijuana slum, young doctors Carl Sims and Angela Varella inoculate residents and discuss possible lucrative careers. Varella, "Mama didn't raise no fool," wants big bucks from big pharma. Sims is shooting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's BSL-4 facilities, where he'll work with the world's most dangerous pathogens. Back at CDC Atlanta, Angela signs up for money. Sims is assigned to accompany former World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr. Jenna Williams to China to secure avian flu samples. Sims is disappointed. He'd rather culture sexy stuff like Ebola. Then, an emergency: A Laotian village is infected with a 60 percent–plus mortality rate flu strain. Back stories, motivation and action converge. Sims and Williams narrowly escape when the infected village is annihilated by a paramilitary attack. Then, Sims goes AWOL to explore an Alaskan mass grave filled with 1918 Spanish flu victims. Apparently, there's a scheme afoot by rogue scientists to release a virulent flu virus and kill two-thirds of Earth's population, a megalomaniacal plot to save the planet from becoming a lifeless rock due to climate change and overpopulation. The narrative shifts into hyperdrive when Sims is kidnapped and incarcerated at WHO's Brazilian BSL-5 facility. Accepting the notion that millions--billions--could die if mutant flu viruses hop aboard globe-traveling airliners, Johnson doesn't question that climate change and overpopulation are world-killers, but his narrative shines with admiration for scientists, CDC and elsewhere, doing yeoman's work for an oblivious public. With enough acronyms to deplete three alphabets, Johnson offers some eye-glazing technical detail--"two surface glycoproteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase"--but it's decipherable in context. Character development is minimal and the romance is counterintuitive, but Sims and Varella attend the Nobel ceremony as a married couple. A scary premise. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands regularly.
NY Journal of Books - Natylie Baldwin
"Robert Johnson's first novel tackles an issue that most in the media, the arts, and entertainment industry--even the environmental community--are afraid to discuss directly: overpopulation. Despite the potential for despair or preachy diatribes, the gravity of the issues is woven into the story with plenty of colorful characters, gallows humor and a suspenseful plot that unravels across continents, making for an entertaining and thought-provoking debut."
Pulp Den - Tom Johnson
"This is so real, it is frightening, although the characters are fictional, the story is possible--and very likely. The book will keep you awake nights, thinking about our vulnerability, and worried that we've already gone too far for the planet to survive without a culling."
Kirkus - Kirkus Reviews
"Johnson's debut thriller could be more science fact than science fiction. There's a scheme afoot by rogue scientists to release a virulent flu virus and kill two-thirds of Earth's population, a megalomaniacal plot to save the planet from becoming a lifeless rock due to climate change and overpopulation. A scary premise. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands regularly."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579623517
  • Publisher: Permanent Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2014
  • Pages: 326
  • Sales rank: 1,227,876
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Johnson
was born and raised in Oakland, California, before eventually moving to
Hollywood. After earning an MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, he became a screenwriter, earning first place honors in Samuel Goldwyn and Jack Nicholson Screenwriting Awards. His first book, Thirteen Moons: A
Year in the Wilderness
, chronicled a Henry David Thoreau–esque year he spent living out of a teepee on the banks of the American River high in the
Sierra Nevadas. He currently lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and children.

Charles Carroll is an actor and voice-over artist residing in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He is an avid film buff and stays active in the local film community.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    There¿s a strong clear message in Robert Johnson¿s The Culling,

    There’s a strong clear message in Robert Johnson’s The Culling, but there’s a strong clear storyline too, and neither overwhelms the other. It’s appealingly different to read about plausible scientists, speaking real science, giving well-reasoned arguments, and backing them up with facts. These scientists have genuine character too—their relationships aren’t glued onto the message to turn it into fiction, and their arguments aren’t imposed on the adventure to give it weight. Instead a thread of real-world fear waves through a novel of imagined excitement, leaving this reader wiser, worried, and significantly more well-informed... as well as entertained.

    Carl Sims is a young virologist with dreams of studying something a little more exciting than ’flu. If you’re anything like me, you probably have no idea how ’flu vaccines are created, why they work or fail, or how the ingredients are gathered. You’ve probably never traveled to the huts of indigenous peoples in hidden jungles either. But in Robert Johnson’s novel you can experience both from the comfort of an armchair. Not that this novel will allow you to remain comfortable; it covers many singularly uncomfortable topics, from global warming to overcrowding to humanism, hopelessness and more.

    Author Robert Johnson renders scientific detail as evocatively as the African jungle, beautifully contrasting nature’s mysticism with raw explanation, and carrying the reader into the minds of flawed characters as they balance human relationships with human need. A passion for science and a passion for humanity clash when Carl uncovers a frightening plot. As he decides which side to take, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. And the golden triangle of influenza (people, pigs and birds) becomes redrawn in people, science and hope.

    Better than Michael Crighton, blending science and fiction more completely, more plausibly, and thereby, more frighteningly, this novel is enjoyable, exciting, satisfying, thought-provoking, and a thoroughly enthralling read.

    Disclosure: I received a free bound galley from the publisher and I offer my honest review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2014

    The title tells all but what is doesn't say is the magnitude of

    The title tells all but what is doesn't say is the magnitude of problem facing the human race. This is expertly described within the storyline by Robert Johnson. With the worldwide population increasing beyond comprehension Dr Carl Sims of the CDC finds himself at the centre of a plot to dramatically reduce the planet's populace, to allow it to recover from the decades of over exploitation and pollution. Carl's father had originally highlighted the problem by establishing population clocks in major cities but to date no one had really taken any notice. Will this plot succeed and how will it shape the future of the world.

    The author has written an exciting thriller, which is for most of the time fast moving and entertaining, albeit with some dire visions of what could happen.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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