Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Gemini Effect, by Chuck Grossart

This week I'm talking about a science-fiction/horror book titled The Gemini Effect, which apparently was really popular on Amazon and there were a lot of people who liked it. I can start this review off by saying that I really need to stop reading horror stories because they're just not quite my cup of tea. Obviously there's a huge market for it and it's very popular, but as I read more and more titles in the genre I'm left with the impression it's just something I'm not terribly interested in. Which is fine, but it's obviously going to color my review of the book a little.

I'll start off by saying that this book feels very much like the plot of a B movie or a Sci-Fi Original work. There initially is a problem, claiming to be the result of science gone awry and man meddling with things we were not meant to know. The world is placed in inevitable danger, and it's up to a band of heroes, or perhaps the entire American military, to find a way to save the day.

In this particular instance the threat is a biological warfare agent created during the dark days of the Cold War which was released from a United States research facility by accident in the 1960's. What was left was placed in the trunk of a car and taken to a Kansas City, Missouri scrapyard, where hopefully the car would be melted and the entire incident could be forgotten. Unfortunately for humanity the car was not melted and the result is a nasty biological agent that makes its escape some fifty years later. Soon large portions of Kansas City's population have disappeared overnight, attacked by something, and it's up to the military to try and figure out what's going on.  And the book makes it very clear in the beginning that humanity is not going to survive this intact, which gives the book a very dark tone throughout.

I will say that the author gives off a very distinct impression of being a military buff in the book. The majority of characters are or were military officers in the past and the author goes to great lengths describing some of the military vehicles and equipment used, including mentioning unofficial nicknames that have accumulated over the years. To be perfectly honest it almost comes off as an almost Michael Bay-esque fetishization and worship of the American military which definitely adds to the B Movie feeling of the novel. And perhaps I've grown a little soft in my old age, but such glorification and adoration makes me more than a little uncomfortable. Which isn't to diminish the sacrifices of our citizens in uniform or the work that they do, but I've found the people who most glorify the military are the ones who know the least about the true horrors of warfare.

There's also a secondary plot that may have been foreshadowed earlier in the book but it comes to the fore about halfway in the book and to me it felt like it just sort of came out of nowhere. Basically it turns out there's also a Soviet plot to infiltrate the highest levels of foreign governments and bring about nuclear armageddon so that Marx and Lenin's dream of a new utopia can be achieved. Personally it felt kind of weird and shoe-horned in like the author had two separate ideas and decided to put them into one book instead of creating two separate stories. I guess the two plots kind of work together and it would make sense for extremists to take advantage of an unstable situation, but it just feels kind of forced to include a second plot, in my opinion.

Overall I didn't care for this book, but as I said it's probably mostly a sci-fi/horror B movie in book form. Obviously there's a market for this sort of thing and if you like it I encourage you to read it, but for me it's just not really my sort of story.

- Kalpar

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