Thursday, February 22, 2018

Book Review: 'Amarantox' by Tam Linsey

Alaska author Tam Linsey is a naturalist – foods, outdoors adventures, hunting for food, gardener extraordinaire, and science aficionado – and has successfully created a science fiction series consisting of five books (novellas, short stories, full novels) and now offers a Prequel to that series with AMARANTOX.

For those of us who have not read the series, the following recap from Book 1 helps: ‘The only crop left ... is human. After genetically altered weeds devastate Earth's croplands, Dr. Tula Macoby believes photosynthetic skin can save the human race. Her people single-mindedly embark on a mission to convert the cannibals roaming what's left of Earth. But when Levi, a peaceful stranger, refuses alteration, Tula doesn't think the only options should be conversion or death. Levi Kraybill, a devout member of the Old Order, left his Holdout farmland to seek a cure for his terminally ill son. Genetic manipulation is a sin, but Levi will do almost anything for the life of his child. When he's captured, he's sure he's damned, and his only escape will be death. Tula's superiors schedule Levi's euthanization, and she risks everything to set the innocent man free. Now she and Levi are outlaws with her people, and she's an abomination with his. Can they find sanctuary in a cannibal wasteland?’

Odd, but fascinating, and in her Foreword to this prequel the mood is well set – ‘This is the story of one woman’s experience during an ecological apocalypse. In the real world, such changes would take years to occur: a slowpocalypse. For the sake of this tale, I’ve taken license and forced the event into a shorter timeline. Please indulge my imaginings and enjoy the story…’

Tam produces a terse but apt synopsis: ‘Vegetarian eco-activist Jaide Acosta will do anything to stop the spread of corporate control over nature with a capital N. She pulls invasive weeds, pickets herbicide factories, and has even been known to break into genetic test greenhouses to sabotage corporate computers. But when genetically engineered weeds invade Earth’s croplands, she learns nature isn’t the benign force she imagined. While the clock ticks down on an ecological doomsday, Jaide struggles between keeping her ideals and keeping her teenage daughter alive.’

So much for the intro, the important aspect of the book is the fat that Tam writes with great skill – especially knowing her background and environmentalist beliefs. The story is involving and full of wisdom as well as being highly entertaining! Grady Harp, October 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.