In this near-future biotech thriller, a deadly virus threatens to wipe out the human race. To ensure that the legacy of humans thrives, a virus-resistant sub-species of homo sapiens (the sapher) is created. But in order to save humanity, all homo sapiens must learn to live together peacefully. This is a marvelous book by an independent author. Generally when I read science fiction books, especially biotech books, I sit there and groan at the inaccurate science. This is the curse of being a scientist in an age when most sci-fi writers aren’t. Venom of Vipers was a glaring exception. Although I paused a few times to deeply think about whether something was possible, I never passed the stage of healthy suspension-of-disbelief. Bravo May! I think it’s doubly impressive that May managed to capture individual psychology of her characters to make them real (with a healthy mixture of good and bad in each of the major characters). The exception was the heroine of the story who, when compared to the other characters was not quite as round. However, the only reason I noticed this exception is by contrast with the more developed characters. May also captured the sociological implications of the situation, making the varied responses of people to the saphers right on target. I found myself thinking “yes, this IS what would happen in this situation.” Venom of Vipers was imaginative and as realistic as a near-future sci-fi thriller can be.
Flowers from Cannibals is the story of Colleen Colgan, a young teen who is set apart from her peers because she had a brain transplant from a chimp when she was younger. Colleen meets up with a girl who she feels is her opposite—the brave, spunky, mysterious Erin. Together with her new friend and her totally awesome ferret, Fred, Colleen goes on a time-traveling, aborigine-defying adventure. I had a difficult time rating this book. It was a great story, with a good message…and I’m interested to know how the story progresses in the next books. However, the edition I read was an advanced reading copy, and was riddled with grammatical errors which I think is unacceptable for a children’s book. The story also became a little preachy about global warming, which might turn off some adults. (However, the preachy passage is short, and the story is totally worth the preach.) Therefore, I am interested in seeing what happens to Colleen in future books, but hope very much that I read an edited edition next time.