Posts Tagged ‘Pandemics’

Black Spiral series Bk3 Black Spiral by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin Books, 2022

February 28, 2022 Comments off

This is the best ScFi series and futurism I have read since The Arc Of the Scythe series which is also reviewed on this site. It is the final in the series and ties up all the themes and plot lines in a satisfactory ending but leaving food for thought.

M-Fever is a man made virus that has been spread among young adults by a ruthless organisation called The Foundation. Survivors of the fever have shown heightened cognitive ability including the ability to read minds and communicate with ESP. In some survivors it has led to the ability to shift into a Dream-flow by leaving their bodies and assuming the form of an animal like a wolf or a bird or even a whale.

The Foundation has realised the potential for espionage and medical science and has become secretly sponsored by powerful people in government, in the law, in the military as well as medicine. They are extremely powerful. The Foundation has isolated a group of young adults who have powers into a group called VORTEX who are treated as medical guinea pigs and used to infiltrate terrorist groups etc.

17 year old Violet and 19 year old Johnno who narrate this story come together through VORTEX and realise that the Foundation are basically an evil organisation. They flee, become lovers, dream-flow together and are hunted by the foundation.

Violet becomes pregnant adding a new dimension to the story, her IQ rating is off the scale, she has developed an ability to heal and she wants to destroy the Foundation. She and Johnno flee back to NZ and plot with Apollo , a group opposed to the Foundation, to help others of their kind and to destroy the organisation that has put them through mental hell.

The action tales place in NZ, Australia, Germany and Poland and it will keep you on your toes. A highlight is the medical talk and the science fiction. Violet discovers that the telemores at the end of her chromosomes are not shortening with age posing the scenario that she could live forever. The dream-flow phenomenon brings up the possibility of time travel. And what about the baby? Check it out and see.

An extremely thought provoking series that is compulsive reading. Don’t miss this series you will kick yourself if you do.

NEANDS 2 by Dan Salmon. Pub. OneTree House 2022

February 6, 2022 Comments off

This is the gripping sequel to NEANDS which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

NEANDS are neanderthals that have spread throughout the human community by a virus that changes humans into neanderthal like people. In fact the virus has been so widespread NEANDS are now the dominant species.

NEANDS cannot remember anything about their previous lives, they are thick set, aggressive, angry, racist towards ordinary humans, scared of water and eat great plates of meat. They have an odour that you can smell a mile away and ordinary humans keep well out of their way.

The novel is narrated by two narrators Charlie who is with Pru and Ivy and at the start of the novel they are living on a hippie island with other humans and safe from the mainland. They have an urge to go back and seek out relations who had contacted the virus, so they sail back to a place they know other humans have remained. They do so and find out that they are researching a vaccination that can stop the virus and perhaps even reverse the process.

The second narrator is Em with her younger brother Miro who is quite a character. They have escaped a children’s prison where other humans have been locked up by the NEANDS and cruelly treated. They travel the length of the South Island and eventually meet Charlie, Pru and Ivy.

Both groups get involved in the search for a cure and the adventure and action is gripping as they try to avoid the NEANDS. Will they find a cure?.

Well told with the descriptive prose of a strange New Zealand a highlight as well as the banter between the characters. Sexual attraction in a world that is in chaos is a theme as well as relationships between different human groups. Can the NEANDS and ordinary humans exist together?

Read it and find out you will not be disappointed.

In the Black Spiral Trilogy. Bk1. Violet Black by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin Books, 2021.

February 16, 2021 Comments off


The function of the first novel in a trilogy is to establish the scenario, introduce the characters and set the second novel up so that the reader wants to read that. This novel does all of that and more. You will be compelled to read the next one.

Set in the near future when a measles like pandemic(M-Fever) has struck giving victims a form of encephalitis from which few survive. Those that do develop a brain that can absorb everything and give strength that is at the super power level. Such people can be very useful for many things and also dangerous at the same time.

Violet Black is 17 years, is a survivor of M Fever. Her father is a scientist who has worked on a vaccine to stop the fever. Ethan Wright is also 17 years and his family think Violet’s father is a crook. Ethan and Violet develop ESP and can communicate with Think-say. They talk to each other with thoughts. Think-say is shown with writing in Italics.

A Mysterious and possibly sinister group called the Spiral Foundation led by Noel Marlow isolate Ethan and Violet along with four other survivors of M Fever, with similar powers and name them VORTEX. This survival group are shifted to Australia secretly where their powers can be developed in strict secrecy. They have a role to play in espionage to detect anti vax terrorists and other organisations. But they are being groomed for a role they never asked for.

For me the most appealing aspect is the ability of VORTEX members to separate the soul from the body and to travel widely in a dreamlike flow. Once again Elaine Merriman’s experience in medicine comes to the fore and makes this side of the story believable.

The action plays out with a mission to infiltrate a terrorist group in Berlin with consequences that will leave you breathless and wanting more. Don’t miss this trilogy. Book 2 Black Wolf will be out later this year.

Locked Down by Jesse O. Illus. Toby Morris. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2021.

February 5, 2021 Comments off

This is a remarkable story because it was first written in 2011 when Bird flu was around and the author prophetically extrapolated what might happen if things got worse. Well things did get worse and it was called Covid 19 and the nation was in lockdown.

The title has been changed from Staying Home to Locked Down to reflect the modern situation. The interesting thing of course is to compare how the author saw things going in 2011 compared what actually happened in New Zealand under lockdown.

The story concentrates on the Flint family who live in the town of Hansen which is somewhere in the South Island. A virus XB276 has struck the North Island down and people have been told to stay home. The South Island has been relatively untouched but is radically effected by the situation in the North.

There are major differences and solutions to the problems created by lockdown and i will let you find out by reading the book. There is a complete shutdown of shops and supermarkets and there is a shutdown of power sources too which create different problems than in the current situation.

The strongest messages relate to families under stress and trying to survive. It hasn’t got that bad in todays crisis, see how the children and their neighbours get on in this crisis..

Toby Morris’s illustrations enhance the story and provide images to hang your thought s on. Well worth a read.

The Juno Series Book 2 – Fierce September by Fleur Beale.

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Fierce September by Fleur Beale. Pub. Random House, 2010.

I waited a long time for this sequel to Juno of Taris to come out and I wasn’t disappointed.

The domed island of Taris was in danger of collapsing at the end of the first book, both physically, and through divisions amongst it’s 500 inhabitants. These divisions are rapidly forgotten as they hurriedly leave Taris on a boat before being hit by an advancing storm.

They are taken to Aotearoa  whose population has been reduced to one million by a series of pandemics that have ravaged the world. On arrival they are greeted with hostility and are housed together in one building. They realize immediately that the closed rigid social structure and community that existed on Taris will not be able to work in Aotearoa.

The man who evacuated the Tarians from Taris, Willem, becomes an important friend to them. However there is a subversive element within Aotearoa that is conducting a hate campaign via the internet, against Juno and her fellow Tarians.

Things come to a crisis when a new pandemic breaks out and the Tarians are accused of bringing it to Aotearoa. Did they bring it? If not where did it come from? Who hates the Tarians so much that they want to destroy them? How will Juno and her friends cope in an alien culture? Why are people scared of the talent possessed by Hera, Juno’s 2 year old sister?

This book cleverly sets up a third book, at least I hope it does, as there are some unanswered questions at the end of this novel.

Cleverly written in short chapters by one of New Zealand’s best writers of children and Young Adult literature. At the end of each chapter is a blogspot by which readers can access and discuss what has happened. Just to give you ideas Fleur Beale writes several lines of gossip that haven’t come out in the narrative, for the reader to contemplate.

As with the first book this is also narrated by Juno. Get in and read it.