The Genius Plague

The Genius Plague

by David Walton


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The Genius Plague by David Walton

WINNER of the 2018 Campbell Award for Best Novel

A WALL STREET JOURNAL Best Science Fiction Book of 2017

In this science fiction thriller, brothers are pitted against each other as a pandemic threatens to destabilize world governments by exerting a subtle mind control over survivors.

Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn't have before.
But that's not the only pattern--the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists, all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal. Neil soon uncovers a secret and unexplained alliance between governments that have traditionally been enemies. Meanwhile Paul becomes increasingly secretive and erratic.
Paul sees the fungus as the next stage of human evolution, while Neil is convinced that it is driving its human hosts to destruction. Brother must oppose brother on an increasingly fraught international stage, with the stakes: the free will of every human on earth. Can humanity use this force for good, or are we becoming the pawns of an utterly alien intelligence?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633883437
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 171,668
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Walton is the author of six novels and recipient of the Philip K. Dick Award for his first novel, Terminal Mind. Superposition and Supersymmetry are quantum physics murder mysteries. He is also the author of Quintessence, a science fantasy in which the Earth is really flat, and its sequel, Quintessence Sky. David lives a double life as a top secret engineer working with the US intelligence community by day, and the mild-mannered father of seven children at night.

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The Genius Plague 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
"There's a fungus among us" has never been more frightening. Scary possibilities that raise even scarier questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story and commentary on the human condition. A good story makes you think. Now I have to see if I can crack the code on the opening page.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
The Genius Plague by David Walton is a highly recommended science fiction/plague novel featuring brothers set against each other and a wide-ranging fungus. Paul Johns, a mycologist, is returning from his trip through the Amazon with a backpack full of fungi samples when terrorists attack the tourist riverboat he is taking back to Manaus, Brazil. When he makes it home to Maryland, he is immediately hospitalized with a life-threatening fungal pneumonia/infection. He recovers but with a gap in his memory. Neil Johns, the younger brother of Paul, has just managed to fulfill his dream and follow his father's footsteps by getting a job with the NSA. His father, Charles, has Alzheimer’s, and will never know either of his sons' accomplishments. Paul is assigned to a group that is given the almost impossible to crack codes where he manages to figure out the obscure language used in a series of messages from South America. Clearly something out of the ordinary is happening in the Brazilian rain forest and it is spreading At the same time, Paul is recovering from his infection, but his intelligence has noticeably increased. Neil takes note of the the change in his brother, along with Paul's sudden desire to protect the rain forest. This phenomenon is not just related to Paul, but there are many others who have suffered from the fungal pneumonia and recovered only to exhibit a remarkable increase in intelligence, along with an uncanny ability to seemingly read each other's mind and act in unison. The infected are spreading and so is what seems to be some kind of mind control. The brothers are on the opposites sides of what is becoming an international war. Either the infection represents the next stage of evolution or it signifies the end of the human race. Can humanity survive this biological threat? The Genius Plague is a well written page-turner that will definitely have you staying up too late at night reading just-one-more-chapter. The science is believable, well explained, and Walton makes the case for a fungus to be a plausible threat against the human race. He keeps the action moving at a fast pace in a well-constructed and compelling plot. The brothers are both interesting, well developed characters and their interaction with their father is significant to the plot. There are also a wide variety of interesting supporting characters to keep the plot interesting and moving along. With the thrilling action, Walton adds in a few questions to ponder. What price would you pay for ecological stability? What would you choose if faced with the dichotomy of free will and individuality versus working together in unison for the good of everything? At what cost is mind control acceptable? This is an excellent novel. The only questions I had about it were the unlikeliness of Neil's employment by the NSA with no degree and I'm not entirely happy with the whole ending, but that could be a win because I'm still pondering it too. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Prometheus Books.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Neil Johns is about to grasp the fulfillment of his dreams, to be a code breaker for NASA. His brother is a mycologist who works with and is obsessed with the life of fungus, yes that’s right – fungus! It turns out that biologically fungus is everywhere and duplicates faster than the mind can conceive. The brother, Paul, and his friend Melanie escape from a brutal attack in the waters of the Amazon jungle. He survives an infection that almost kills him, but he is not the same man he was before he contracted this brutal infection. Instead he finds that if he doesn’t take his antifungal medication, he has phenomenal mental powers. At the same time Paul is recovering from his almost fatal illness, events are taking a turn for the worse in South America. Coups are violently accomplished but unlike other changes in that part of the world, brutal dictators are uniting in purpose. At first Paul sees the brilliance of fungus which even duplicates in the body and changes the mind, including the mind of his aged father who had been on the cusp of despair with Alzheimer’s disease but is now transformed and refreshed as an elderly man with purpose! It sounds dangerous and frightening and so it is! But the danger lies beyond what can be seen for what will happen when even humans cannot control the power of the transformative fungus that seems out to change and control the world? The plot is simple but events move faster than the reader can imagine! This is a science fiction novel that could become reality as microbial elements in the world are becoming stronger and resistant to all drugs and experiments. Interesting read that this reviewer recommends as not only sci fi but also a great novel of international intrigue and mystery!