The White Plague Hardcover – May 1991
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"A tale of awesome revenge." ---The Cincinnati Enquirer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Frank Herbert's most popular works are the well-known Dune books: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and the extraordinary bestseller God Emperor of Dune.
Scott Brick has recorded over five hundred audiobooks, won over forty AudioFile Earphones Awards, and twice received Audie Awards for his work. Scott was chosen as Publishers Weekly's 2007 Narrator of the Year, and he has been named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The top scientists give it their best shot at finding a cure for this plague, and it means that some unusual co-operation is required. Cultural relationships and international trust will never be the same again. Herbert has skillfully portrayed a very realistic scenario of worldwide terrorism tactics and the aftermath of it all. It is possible, he argues, that one person, in a fit of personal rage, could afflict the whole planet like this. It is possible, he further prophesizes, for humankind to extricate itself from such a huge disaster only by supreme co-operation and a new trust. But Herbert also shows us here how mankind rarely trusts on that scale, and the fact that political instability lead to the plague in the first place, by putting someone like the Irish terrorist Joseph Herrity into the path of O'Neill.Read more ›
Reading Herbert reminds me that so much of SF depends more on the excitement of ideas at the expense of satisfying characterisation. Too much of the story's wasted on superfluous people, names, descriptions, backgrounds which matter little. Prominently featured scientists trying to find the cure, for example, get attention early on but then are relegated to barely a mention; horrendously stereotypical "stage Oirish" dialogue by cardboard IRA men undercuts genuinely ambitious attempts by Herbert to analyse terrorist thinking. You get little sense of what "ordinary" folks suffered in the world of "Panic Fires" and mass barricades, or how goods (and weapons) would have been traded and daily life would have stumbled on.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Our story opens with the death of the wife and children of brilliant biochemical researcher John O'Neill at the hands of terrorists. O'Neil is driven mad with grief and unleashes a biochemically engineered plague on the world, one that is 100% fatal to women.
While not Herbert's best book, it is still fantastic. Frank paints a horrific picture of governments racing first against each other to be the first to find a cure, and soon realilsing that a cure will only come with cooperation. Each country deals with the plague differently and the sweep of the story stretches around the world and back to the beginning as O'Neil admires his handiwork.
The story is quite action driven for a Herbert book. With most women dying off, the planet soon becomes unrecognizable. Will a cure be found in time? What form will it take? How will humanity survive? Herbert's trademark philosophical ruminations are there, just below the surface for plucking if you're interested. I will say, though, that the irony of thousand-year-old cultures having to re-write themselves overnight in the name of survival wasn't lost on me.
Even more tantalizing is the ending which will leave you wondering what will happen next. Not that there's a cliffhanger, but the world is so different you imagine a sequal would have done very well.
This is a really good book. It may drag a bit in spots and some of the science involved is a bit dated, but it is still very enjoyable. There's something wrong when a book as good as this one written by a author as popular as Herbert is out of print. Surely there must be some publishing company out there willing to cash in on the writings of a man whose works have been brought to the screen twice (soon to be three times, with "Children of Dune"). Anyone?
Until that happens, pick up a copy at a used bookstore. You won't regret it.
In the book, the main character (a molecular biologist) loses his wife to a random terrorist bombing in Ireland. Fed up with the endless violence and loss of innocent life due to chronic IRA-British conflicts in Ireland, the scientist uses methods of genetic engineering to develop a virus that he plans to release in Ireland. He sends notice to the world of his intentions, and releases the virus.
The virus kills only women. Ireland is devastated, but, of course, the virus escapes and the white plague becomes a pandemic.
The technology certainly exists to develop genetically engineered viral vectors (i.e., viruses that carry genetically engineered DNA or RNA). Is such a plague possible? Technically, yes. That's what makes the tale so chilling.
The spread of the disease in the book and efforts to protect uninfected women are described as effort after effort to stop the virus fail.
This is great summer time reading for anyone who enjoys techno-sci-fi books. The story line is convincing, the scientific premises of the book are within the reach of feasibility, and the potential consequences of such an act are mind boggling.
Please re-issue this book. There are certainly people out there who would enjoy it.
There was also a lot of focus on the plight and anger of the Irish at the British and, before them, the Romans. I certainly would have gotten more from this aspect if I knew more about Irish history or had Irish in my ancestry.
_Dune_ and the books that followed it were much more engrossing. Herbert, in this rare foray into "contemporary" literature, is thorough as always in his analysis of the workings of society and relationships among people.
There's no doubt that it's a well-written book, but it was definitely a book where I was ok missing a day of reading it. Definitely not light "summer" reading but at the end of the day it's worth the read.