I like to browse through Amazon’s catalog of cheap e-books to see if I can find anything interesting. As you’d expect, many of them aren’t very good and probably wouldn’t have been published in the days before on-demand printing and digital distribution. However, I thought it might be fun to blog about some of the better ones. (My first review is here.)
This time I’d like to tell you about Warren Fahy’s 2009 novel Fragment. It’s a bio-horror story, along the lines of Michael Crichton, and it shares some of Crichton’s weaknesses, such as thin characterization. The bad guy is there simply to be the bad guy, and I’m not sure why we even need a bad guy, given the book’s setting. On the other hand, only a fool reads stories like this because he wants the characters to be complex and nuanced. Like most science fiction, this is a story about ideas. Scary ideas.
It all starts with a research vessel that stumbles across an apparently inhospitable Pacific island with an isolated interior area that turns out to be filled with abundant life that has evolved along a different path — a far more aggressive path — than the rest of the Earth. This is a somewhat common story, especially in movies and television, but Fahy provides much more of the biological story of why and how than we usually get.
In particular, it’s not just a story about the giant apex predators — although those are certainly rampaging over the island — but about the hyper-aggressive struggle going on at every level and in every niche of the biome. Fahy’s story is filled with creatures described in great functional detail. It seems well-informed and well-imagined, with a lot of attention paid to real evolutionary and biological sciences.
If you like this sort of thing, it’s a very good read.