- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First edition (Oct. 2 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765317737
- ISBN-13: 978-0765317735
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 399 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #507,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The White Plague Paperback – Oct 2 2007
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“A tale of awesome revenge.” ―The Cincinnati Enquirer on The White Plague
“A speculative intellect with few rivals in modern SF.” ―The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
About the Author
Frank Herbert is the author of the 1965 science fiction classic, Dune. He passed away in 1986.
Top customer reviews
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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. You have to wonder what it was really like in Europe during the great bubonic plagues of the Middle Ages and the 1600's. Another factor worthy of note here is the fact that women are the victims: hasn't that been the basic way of history so far? Men victimizing, and then over-idolizing their womenfolk?
You might expect that O'Neill would have been more specific in his revenge: instead of women he might have selected, for example, all Irish nationalists. Okay, it would require a more specific virus program than genders, but this is speculative fiction. Nonetheless, Herbert reasons that since O'Neill lost his women, he is determined to take away all other women from all other men. A gruesome poetic justice, in his demented eyes. Also, we have to wonder not if this could happen like this, but why it has not happened like this already. Even the most deviated terrorist must think about his or her own when plotting such destruction. And running throughout the narration is the picture of the Irish themselves as a fatalistic and vengeful people, ready to slaughter their own in order to give it to the oppressor (ie the English). That is a classic portrait of every terrorist anywhere.
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. Many of the characters are too far removed in labs, the White House, the Papacy, and isolation to convey what the plague world would have felt like, and this detachment weakens the novel's force.
Like Michel Houellebecq's "The Elementary Particles," a massive scientific restructuring of global society gains barely a nod until the end of the book, when far too much is crammed into a few pages. I felt like a sequel could have done more justice to the fascinating drama of a planet with 10,000 men to a woman.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Boy this book on kindle if you must but, my advice, is to find a hard copy (preferably hardcover) and keep it around for your later enjoyment.