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Posts tagged ‘conspiracy’

The God Project

The God Project by John Saul

Image via the State Library of Ohio.

Title: The God Project

Author: John Saul

Year of Publication: 1982

Genre Keywords: conspiracy, genetics, horror, medicine, mystery, psychological thriller, suspense, techno-thriller, thriller.

Summary: When Baby Julie dies of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), it’s a terrible tragedy that’s hard for anybody to understand. But her mother struggles more than anyone to reconcile herself to the sudden, unexpected loss. In fact, Sally doesn’t believe that “sometimes babies just die” – she thinks there must be some unknown reason for Julie’s death. Searching for answers (in defiance of all the family members who think she must be unhinged) leads Sally to Lucy Corliss, a mother whose son Randy has gone missing. The women learn that their children are subjects in a mysterious medical study for which none of them gave consent, leading them to a sinister patient list with some strange commonalities – all children, all born from unplanned pregnancies that began with a failed IUD, all delivered by the same OB/GYN . . . and all disappearing or dying.

Who’ll Love It: Are you suspicious of the medical industry, the many pharmaceuticals we’re given, the studies that claim to give us all the answers? You’ll definitely find this worldview confirmed in this dramatic “trust-no-one” tale. But even if you’re a confirmed believer in modern medicine – and I am, because I’m nearly thirty years old and nobody considers me an end-of-life hag as they would’ve  in the Dark Ages – the appropriate suspension of disbelief can make this a fun conspiracy read without a deeper message.

Reality Check: Contrary to Sally’s assertions, which turn out to be correct in the world of story, sometimes babies do just die. Though it made for an enthralling story, I would hate for women whose babies die suddenly to get stuck with an added burden of guilt or confusion while they’re already suffering a tremendous loss. Parents can reduce the risk of SIDS, but since science can’t really tell us what causes it, there’s a limit to how  much we can do to control it. Some doctors theorize that there may be some sort of in-born malfunction in the body that leads to SIDS. But we can be reasonably sure it wasn’t put there by a sinister medical consortium.

The Fury

The Fury by John Farris

Image via Fantastic Fiction.

Title: The Fury

Author: John Farris

Year of Publication: 1976

Genre Keywords: action-adventure, conspiracy, horror, paranormal, psychic, suspense, teen, telekinesis, thriller.

Summary: Gillian is a level-headed, perfectly normal teenager from a wealthy and powerful family . . . until a serious fever awakens the psychic powers she’s been burying since childhood. Robin is deeply aware of the powers he’s always had, even if he has to conceal them around the fanatically religious relatives caring for him. Now that the teens are beginning to explore astral projection, clairvoyance, and telekinetic powers, government agencies have started to take notice. Will they be able to harness Robin and Gillian’s potential for the sake of national security? Or will the teens’ potentially lethal abilities leave government officials shooting to kill? Just to add a layer of complexity, Robin’s father has discovered how the government wants to use his son, and he’d do anything to save Robin from their clutches. He’s fighting for his son’s life, but the body count is rising and time is running out.

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who likes their horror stories X-Files-style, with a side order of conspiracy-theories-come-true. The imagery is truly macabre and honestly a little bit gory, and the fact that it was current in the 1970s makes it almost period fiction by this point.

Beyond Books: For horror-film buffs, check out the classic film adaptation of The Fury, directed by Brian de Palma.

Creature

Creature

Image via Fantastic Fiction.

Title: Creature

Author: John Saul

Year of Publication: 1989

Genre Keywords: conspiracy, corporate, experiments, Frankenstein, high school, horror, medicine, popularity, science, sports, suspense, techno-thriller, teen, thriller.

Summary: A corporate promotion lands the Tanner family in a gorgeous company town nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Everything there seems perfect . . . but is it a little too perfect? The family’s eldest son, Mark Tanner, doesn’t have a chance to think about it; he’s too busy not fitting in. Short and scrawny in a high school full of athletic superstars, he’d rather be exploring nature or caring for his pet rabbits than roughhousing on the football field. Still, when the local sports clinic offers to help him boost his growth, he decides he’s tired of being the runt of the litter and signs on for a treatment program. Maybe that’s not the best idea, though, because it seems like one of the other boys getting treated is growing out of control, in every sense of the word.

Who’ll Love It: It’s not technical or scientific enough that people with no background will be lost, nor is it saturated in sports jargon so that you have to understand football to follow the action. Rather, it’s a story with fairly universal themes and a fairly wide appeal amongst horror fans (which, granted, is a fairly specialized genre to begin). Be prepared to marvel at the callousness of the sports clinic’s employees and the corporation running the town.

Themes for Thought: The Frankenstein medical-science theme is obvious – a classic cautionary tale about delving into science without enough respect for human life. But are there other cautionary tales here? Sports can be a deep obsession in North America, leading to physical and psychological injury for players and those who aren’t able to compete. (Consider the ever-expanding archetypal tale of popular athletes picking on the nerds and misfits.) And on a more literal level, think about all the stories in the news lately about athletes caught doctoring their bodies with performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps the fictional medicine described in the novel is representative of ethical boundaries being breached in the sports world every day. Think about it . . .

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