Friday, September 21, 2007

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston


You might say that I lucked out when I stumbled across my "favorite author". Orson Scott Card manages to publish about two to three books a year, has about 50 books under his belt, and has written books, poetry, and short stories in just about every genre imaginable. His first publication of this year was Space Boy (my review), a very limited run by Subterranean Press, that was enjoyable but doesn't even compare to his latest collaboration with screenwriter Aaron Johnston, Invasive Procedures.

Invasive Procedures is the story of the dangers of genetic manipulation. It can certainly be classified as science fiction as Card dots his i's and crosses his t's when it comes to the science aspect, but I'd consider this one more of a bio-medical/political thriller. The setting is Los Angeles in the near future. Geneticist George Galen has created a group of super humans called "Healers". Galen is the villain of the novel, but he's a charming villain, the most dangerous kind. His Healers are giants, around 7 feet in height, have the bodies of gods, and go throughout the community recruiting the sick and homeless in a cult like fashion for Galen's genetic experiment - to help the human race evolve.

Here's where the story gets interesting. Galen has developed a virus that cures deadly genetic diseases such as Parkinson's, Sickle-Cell Anemia, etc. Viruses work by attaching to DNA and changing their structure and Galen has developed a virus that will do just that for these diseases. However, the virus he has developed is deadly to the general population and causes near immediate death. It can save the life of the few who need it, but can cause the death of the many to whom it is toxic. In steps Frank Hartman. Frank Hartman has been recruited by the Biohazard Agency, an FBI-like governmental agency, to develop an anti-virus to or vaccination to Galen's virus. Galen soon realizes the plans that the government has to stop his advancement of the human race and one thrilling novel ensues.

I've always said that I love Card for his characters, and this novel is no exception. Frank Hartman is one of the strongest heroes I've read in a while. Joining him in his race against Galen are Galen's test subjects, a group of homeless people that he picks up, offering them a hot meal and a bed, and while he does give them that, they also get much more than what they thought they were in for.

Dolores is my favorite of this group. She is an elderly homeless woman with no family who slept on a playground before Galen picked her up. She has extremely low self esteem, but a wonderful sense of humor and was a delight to read and my heart went out to her. Nick and Jonathan were two younger punk kids who were homeless heroin addicts. Both put up a tough front, but Card shows us the young kid inside just begging for help and love. Their story was touching as well. Hal, I had no sympathy for! Hal is a drunk who is arrogant and loud when he's picked up and remains that way throughout the book...he just got on my nerves. And Byron is the last of the group. Byron was mistaken for a homeless person, but is really a tax attorney whose car broke down and he just needed a lift. He's a great guy and another strong character.

Put all of these wonderful characters together along with a doctor forced to perfom surgery on all of them against her will while her child is held at ransom along with one of the most thrilling and forward moving story lines I've read in awhile, and you get a book that is heart stopping and very meaningful in these days of lightning speed medical advancement...not that I think we're at risk of something like this ever actually happening.

This one just came out Tuesday, so it should be well stocked in most bookstores. I highly recommend as I usually do with most books :p But this one really was a 5 out of 5. It's based on an Orson Scott Card short story originally published in 1979 by the name of "Malpractice." OK, now back to the RIP Challenge!

17 comments:

Amy said...

Wow! Thanks for your review Chris. Card is one of my son's favorite authors too. I put this on hold for him at the library.

I may just read it myself. Sounds great!

Becky said...

Great review, Chris. I'm hoping there isn't a long wait list at the library :)

jenclair said...

Love the premise of this one and could use it for the Cardathon Challenge. Card is remarkably prolific and varied, isn't he? I just finished Homebody which includes the supernatural, a ghost, and a haunted house.

I also like that he named the geneticist Galen because the original Galen was a real experimenter, performing some of the first dissections.

Chris said...

Amy, Very cool to hear that Card is one of your son's favs! Always fan to find another fan ;) I'm sure he'll enjoy this one and I'm sure you'll enjoy it too! I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it. It's a quick moving, very riveting book!

Becky, I hope you don't have to wait long either! I have a feeling you won't. Unfortunately, his success seems to be dwindling with his non-series books, which is sad :( I know that Empire pretty much bombed, but there was no advertisement for it and I couldn't even find it in the bookstore when it came out! At least this book was displayed in the front of the bookstore on the day it came out. That made me happy! Anyway, my point (before I started rambling, lol) was that I hope you get to read it soon! :)

Jenclair, Definitely a good one for the Cardathon Challenge! He's extremely prolific which is one of the reasons that I enjoy his writing so much. Hoped you liked Homebody! I'm getting ready to go check your blog ;) I thought it was a good book, though certainly not his best, but it's a great example that he can write anything!

I loved that the geneticist was named Galen! And they made him a (somewhat) respectable character too even though he was a villain, so they didn't tarnish Galen's name. Now that I think back on it, it's really amazing that he can handle the writing of a villain the way that he did. But I don't want to give anything away ;) Great book though!

DesLily said...

It's always a good thing when we find an author that "can do no wrong"! You're fortunate you have a favorite one that puts out so many books! Some I like I'm lucky if a book comes out every 2 yrs!!

Chris said...

Deslily, That's my favorite thing about him! I'm guaranteed at least a book a year ;) He still has another one coming out this year and I know that he already has the first book in a series due out early in 2008 and a short story collection in April! Yay!

cj said...

Dang it, Chris!

I've really got to read this guy...

cjh

Chris said...

CJ, Yeah you do! Lol...I'm an Orson Scott Card pusher...I try to get every one to read him!

Kailana said...

Chris,

Off-topic, but I was on the Across the Universe web site and apparently this movie is not the major movie me and you were thinking. It is currently only playing in 12 places across Canada and the United States. They say they will be adding more locations soon. I mean, this show has been advertised to death and it was even on Oprah, not that she is always everyones favourite supporter, but for that I thought it was going to be a big movie!

Anyways, thought I would tell you in case you hadn't looked it up yourself.

Chris said...

Kailana, That's crazy! I wonder what the logic is behind that? It looks like the film was pretty expensive to make...you'd think that they would release it into a major market. Not to mention that plenty of people seem to want to see it and like you said, it was on Oprah! Not that that does much for me, but that pretty much ensures that a whole new demographic is going to want to see the movie. I just don't get it...I hope it makes it's way here soon :(

Debi said...

This sounds like a book I would absolutely love! Might have to make this my first venture into the world of Card, and save Ender's Game for after.

Chris said...

Debi, I definitely can't say it's better than Ender's Game ;) but it's a very fun, fast paced, thrilling read! It's actually based on a screenplay that was based on one of Card's short stories, so you're guaranteed some good action! I really hope that the screenplay sees the light of day and it gets made into a movie. I would LOVE to see this one on the big screen.

jean pierre said...

this sounds good!

old orson seems to be going strong - wow! so many books and they're still good quality...

Chris said...

JP, He really is going strong! He's changes his writing style some lately, but he still remains a strong writer. He's going back to some of his old series soon, so I'm interested to see how he falls into his old series after so much experience as a writer! Really looking forward to some new Ender books!

Carl V. said...

You are indeed lucky that your favorite author is prolific. I obviously don't get that kind of production from Neil Gaiman, and Bram Stoker and Poe haven't exactly written anything new lately. Thankfully John Scalzi writes a little more frequently!

Chris said...

Carl, Yeah, what's up with Poe and Stoker??? Why the hell are they taking so long to crank out a new book....geesh!

On Gaiman, I would certainly be happy with more frequent publications from him, but I won't complain too much. I'd rather him take his time and give us some quality work. I would love another Neverwhere or American Gods, though I enjoy his young adult stuff as well. At least we got two publications from him this year, though neither were American Gods or Neverwhere caliber...but again, I won't complain ;)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Card wrote it or was it entirely written by Johnston but based on Malpractice?