Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scott Sigler's Infected

The problem with saving up my blog reading is that sometimes I miss out on cool offers. Scott Sigler's Infected is coming out in hard cover today, and as part of the pre-publication promotion, a pdf of the novel could be downloaded for free. That offer ended a few hours ago, unfortunately.

The story is a mixture of science fiction, horror and thriller, with lots of biology. Sigler was interviewed as part of John Scalzi's "Big Idea" series, which gives a synopsis of the story:
Animals are basically biological machines, capable of growth, self-repair and design modification based on changing environmental stresses. All of the processes used for those things should be able to be controlled in the human body, if we had the technology. For Infected, that technology is there, but humans are not the ones using it. The story is taking the concept of a virus, hijacking the human body’s natural processes to make copies of a simple organism, and extending that to building highly complex organisms, organisms with a pre-programed purpose and an evil, evil plan. We are a walking planet to the bacteria and arachnids that cover our body in the billions — and if we can modify our planet, why can’t they modify us?
According to Sigler, he basis his stories on hard science..
There are no magic wands, no random wormholes, no ghostly teleportation and no history-altering time travel — my stories are the same world you live in every day, which means characters and monsters will obey the laws of physics (for the most part, anyway). And if you read up on pop science or you remember your biology classes, you’re bound to run into things in my books that you already know. Again, there is something about incorporating knowledge that’s already around us that grips the reader, and helps build up the illusion of reality within the story.
For me the plausibility of the science makes the horror elements that much more horrifying. There's no escaping the many many microbes that are an integral part of our bodies. In Infected, the victims are infected by the genetically engineered "Triangles", that feed off their host's nutrients and thoughts. Once they have grown strong enough, they hatch from the host's weakened body. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

The good news is that even if you didn't download the free pdf, you can listen to the whole story in Scott Sigler's podcast: prologue and Chapter 1, Chapters 2-4, Chapters 5-9, Chapter 10. Subscribe to Sigler's blog to find out when new chapters are posted. Or, of course, you could buy a copy.

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