The Lovecraft series has ended, and I still haven’t got any new reviews written.
So, since the idea of a “bug apocalypse” has been showing up a bit in the news lately, I thought I’d get put this up.
Raw Feed (1998): Dust, Charles Pellegrino, 1998.
This is the second Pellegrino novel I’ve read, and I really liked this disaster tale though, and Pellegrino admits he changed his original ending of humanity’s death, I thought the ending of resurrecting old insects to save humanity was improbably cheerful.
The premise that insects might have a millions of years death cycle – and that this death cycle preceded, and perhaps caused, the decline of the dinosaurs (which were finished off by an asteroid impact) was novel and speculation based on science according to the Afterword in which Pellegrino outlines the historical and scientific facts behind his tale. (I like that feature of his novels.)
The effects of insects dying off – lethal swarms of dust mites, plagues of fungus, the death of higher level insectivores, a lack of plant pollinators – were horrifying and fascinating – exactly what a sf disaster novel should offer.
Pellegrino is a fascinating writer not only for the hard science details but for including his scientist friends as characters. (He’s a working scientist in several fields including biology, archaeology, paleontology, and starship engineering.) Here entomologist E. O. Wilson meets his death at the jaws of dust mites.
I also liked the bits with the berserk missileman.
If the novel has any flaws, one lies with Pellegrino’s penchant for quotes. Sometimes they’re interesting and relevant; sometimes they aren’t.
I was surprised to see Pellegrino repeat the oh-too-ironic story about Charles Drew, inventor of organized American blood banks, bled to death after being denied a blood transfusion because he was black. It’s not true.
The other flaw was the villain Jerry Sigmond. I appreciate that Pellegrino was attempting to show how socially destructive sociopaths (i.e. demagogues in some cases) are not obviously different. Still, Sigmond seemed a bit implausible though I appreciate that anti-intellectual and science rhetoric is on the rise.
I also liked the Darwin exploring Enceladus.