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What if the pandemic you thought would kill you made you intelligent instead? In the jungle a disease is spreading To those who survive it grants enhanced communication memory and pattern recognition But the miracle may be the sinister survival mechanism of a fungal organism manipulating the infected into serving it Paul Johns a mycologist is convinced the fungal host is the next stage of human evolution while his brother Neil an analyst at the NSA is committed to its destruction Is the human race the master in this symbiotic relationship or are we becoming the pawns of a subtly dominating and utterly alien intelligence?


10 thoughts on “The Genius Plague

  1. says:

    Yes I am giving my own book five stars If I don't think the book is awesome why would anyone else want to give it a try?


  2. says:

    199 Kindle sale April 1 2019 375 stars This is a pretty good SF suspense novel with a great concept It derails a bit in the last third but overall a fun and tension filled read The Genius Plague is a science fiction thriller with a fascinating uniue concept humanity contending with a biological invasion by a fungus out of the The unusual part is the nature of the fungal invasion when it gets settled in your body and invades your brain it makes you smarter A genius in fact But is that ALL it does?Paul Johns is a young mycologist studying fungi in the rainforest He narrowly escapes death in a strange attack on a riverboat then even stranger things happen as he and an acuaintance are trying to find their way back to civilization The book’s POV then shifts to Paul’s brother Neil a bright 21 year old who manages to get a job with the NSA despite some serious flub ups As part of Neil’s NSA job he investigates encrypted communications and tries to decrypt ones that seem suspicious This becomes especially important with some recent unrest and violence in South America events that may have a tie to his brother Paul’s experiences thereParts of the plot are really far fetched and the final resolution didn't hold water all that well but it sucked me right in and I read the whole book in one day


  3. says:

    I’m not a microbiologist nor do I play one on tv  I do however love speculative fiction that comes dangerously close to reality and that is exactly what we have with The Genius Plague – a cli fi thriller reminiscent of Robin Cook’s OutbreakThe Genius Plague is at heart the story of two brothers Paul and Neil Neil is a microbiologist studying fungus in the rainforest He arrives home with never before discovered spores only after surviving what many thought was a “terrorist attack” during which all others on the boat were killed However upon arrival Paul becomes deadly ill with fungal pneumonia When he awakens from his illness fed stupor he is different smarter focused – a genius But at what cost and how does his new found brilliance relate to the problems concerns that Neil is having at the NSA? What follows is an incredible thrill ride through the South American jungles the secret rooms of the NSA and the hidden networks of mushrooms While that may seem a little far fetched take a moment to think about the deadliest diseases affecting the world as you’re reading this – they all are fungal related Go out and dig in your garden Do you see those tiny white filaments that look like spider webs? Fungi We humans and our environment are completely and totally reliant on the fungi that is all around us What happens when it decides it is smarter than its hosts? These are the uestions that “plague” you in “The Genius Plague”    


  4. says:

    Fast paced and nerdy in a cocky newbie to the NSA fights an intelligent Mycelium plague vein The initial premise was what brought me to the book and that still stands The fungus is mimicking our brains from within our brains and makes us smarter with the pitfall that it only behaves to improve its own survivalI might have preferred an all out hard SF going much deeper into a fully successful plague but hitting the breaks like this was fun enough for a single novel The alternative might have become a doorstopper and I might have loved that too but alas this is only my opinion What we do have is a cocky bright kid getting into a ton of trouble who does everything he can to save the world It's really not bad It's smart Interesting Tons of great science and ideas were thrown about for all you mushroom lovers out there It's a real smorgasbord I may not like the end so much but I really enjoyed the ride getting there Walton's writing is fast paced and as cocky as his MC It's designed to be popcorn fiction and for the most part it fits the bill perfectly Now where's my salad? I'm in the mood for a few whitecaps


  5. says:

    David Walton’s The Genius Plague has a promising setup a pathogenic fungus spreads rapidly among the human population raising the hosts Is to genius levels but also forcing them to act in ways that eschew individual agency in favor of ensuring the continued viability of the fungus The most intriguing aspect of that premise is the idea that people of ordinary intelligence can suddenly become geniuses and also that the fungus may be able to cure Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain illnesses but Walton chooses to focus his tale on the race to stop the fungus from spreading In doing so the novel comes off as an attempt to mimic the kind of hot button science thriller Michael Crichton made famous but the formulaic plotting fails to ensnare and much of it hinges on an increasingly improbable set of coincidences managed by a group of uninspiring characters The novel is spilling over with interesting scientific tidbits but there is little else to recommend


  6. says:

    This book had a few interesting ideas but there were some flaws in the execution that made it just ok for me including being about 50 pages too long Paul Jones is a young mycologist who is infected by a dangerous fungus while in the The illness can prove fatal but if you recover one of the attributes of the disease is that it's victims emerge with greater cognitive abilities than they had before Another attribute is that it causes the victims to be linked to both the fungus and to each other in a giant web with a single purpose protect the fungus Paul's younger brother Neil has just started work at the National Security Agency where he joins a team that cracks encrypted messages One of my major problems with the book is that Neil is perfection personified to an annoying extent At 21 he can do no wrong Despite the fact that he doesn't have a college degree any relevant training or experience it somehow falls on him to save the world when the plague spreads Although the book is titled The Genius Plague little is made of this side effect In addition to the creation of geniuses the book also touches on the symbiotic relationship between fungi and humans and the potential for solar powered humans but these ideas aren't explored very deeply Since fungi can't think the author had to explain how they managed to formulate plans for their preservation I didn't find the author's explanation for this very convincing or consistently applied There is a lot of discussion of encryption and decoding in the beginning of the book which bored me and a lot of military maneuvering at the end when there is an attempt to combat the spread of the plague The resolution of the crisis just sort of fizzled out at the end of the book I kept reading but this wasn't wonderful I received a free copy of this book from the publisher


  7. says:

    I have a profound dislike for that subset of science fiction in which unremarkable irritating entitled nerd boys fall arse backwards through the plot and yet somehow get all the credit This manages to take a cool idea and turn into a dull exercise in advancing the plot by series of increasingly ridiculous coincidences with characters the reader is told are clever doing remarkably stupid things swathed in jingoistic bullshit


  8. says:

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum Nature can be a scary bitch Forget horror movies; if you ever want to see some truly messed up freaky bone chilling stuff look no further than your BBC nature documentary Case in point the “Jungles” episode of Planet Earth After so many years that infamous scene of the killer parasitic fungus bursting forth from the back of a dead ant’s head like some kind of grotesue alien worm still gives me the heebie jeebies—and clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way From The Last of Us to The Girl with All the Gifts a great number of books movies and video games have come out in recent years to show us just how screwed humanity would be if we ever went to war with Kingdom FungiWhich was why when I first found out about the premise of The Genius Plague by David Walton I was immediately intrigued After all like in most of the examples I mentioned above being infected with a fungal plague usually meant very bad things—like turning into a mindless slavering zombie for one Yet in this case the fungus actually made yousmarter? This was definitely a new angle for me and I was curious to see how it would play outWe begin this tale deep in the jungle where mycologist Paul Johns has just completed a successful scientific expedition and is looking forward to heading home with his samples of mushroom specimens Shortly after boarding the riverboat that would take him and his group back to civilization however they are attacked by a group of men disguised in military uniform and Paul and another tourist are the only survivors of the horrific massacre Rescue finally comes after a couple days of trekking through the rainforest and Paul eventually makes it back home to the United States only to be diagnosed with a lung infection caused by breathing in fungal spores while he was in the jungle—and none too soon Any longer and he would have succumbed to the pneumonia and diedMeanwhile Paul’s younger brother Neil has just been hired by the National Security Agency where their father also used to work before early onset of Alzheimer’s cut his career short Neil joins a team of code crackers trying to decipher secret messages intercepted from all around the globe focusing his attention on a series of encrypted communications coming out of the basin Rival guerrilla factions are working together when they shouldn’t be using a language they shouldn’t know and the implications of this are making the NSA nervous At home things have taken a strange turn as well as Paul now recovered from his illness begins showing signs of increased intelligence It appears that the fungus has altered his brain functioning improving memory centers and enhancing pattern recognition and communication skills Excited about what this could mean for the human race Paul believes that a symbiotic relationship with the fungus is the next step in human evolution but Neil a little circumspect is not entirely convinced that joining with an unknown organism would be in humanity’s best interestLet’s go back to why nature is so scary shall we? Nature is scary because like the fungus in this book it doesn’t think and it doesn’t have a plan it simply does what it needs to do to survive Therefore we can’t really think of the fungus—or those it infects for that matter—as a convention villain To my surprise it turns out that the idea of a plague making its victims smarter is even horrifying to me than if it had simply turned all of them into a shambling horde of zombies Certainly the scenario put forth in The Genius Plague is much disconcerting and the effects of the fungus in the book are much dangerous I don’t want to reveal too much than that for fear of spoilers but let’s just say that the pathways of this particular pathogen are a lot insidious than you’d expect and it gave me chills just thinking about what it does to the human brainI also liked how the book focused on genuinely relatable characters who have to deal with some very real problems and tough personal struggles in their everyday lives even as the entire world descended into madness around them The story mainly focuses on Neil a brilliant but reckless young man who seems to achieve his successes through sheer dumb luck than anything else But whatever can be said about his faults the love for his family is beyond any measure As mentioned before Neil and Paul’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s leading to his early retirement from the NSA Hence woven into this tale is also an intimate glimpse into a family’s private pain as they watch someone they love decline in memory and mental function adding an emotional layer to the narrative Ultimately it leads to some very tough uestions and choices for the characters as is discovered about the fungus’ effectsGripping and intense The Genius Plague is a wonderful example of the science fiction thriller genre done right combining a well researched premise with fast paced action and suspense We even get a little bit of touching family drama thrown in for good measure Needless to say I had a good time with this book and I can’t wait to read what David Walton writes next


  9. says:

    The nitty gritty Hugely entertaining this terrifying vision of what our future could be like will keep you turning pages long after bedtimeI loved David Walton’s Supersymmetry a fast paced scientific thriller about time travel and alternate realities so I knew that The Genius Plague was going to be a must read And wow did I have fun with this book When I started reading I thought the entire story was going to revolve around the genius plague of the title a fungus that infiltrates humans and makes their hosts smarter But Walton surprised me with a multi layered story that kept me entertained from start to finish The author tackles a myriad of subjects such as computer hacking code breaking terrorism government cover ups mycology and even Alzheimer's all of which are brilliantly woven into a cohesive story He’s also written a cautionary tale about taking care of our planet or else This is a fast paced exciting read but it will definitely make you hesitate and think about how we treat our natural resourcesThe story opens as mycologist Paul Johns has just emerged from the rain forest after successfully foraging for fungi samples On a tourist boat that will take him back to his hotel for the evening his world is shattered when a group of men in military uniform stops the boat and ruthlessly shoots every person on board Paul barely escapes the massacre by jumping over the side and swimming for safety but his troubles are far from overMeanwhile back home Paul’s younger brother Neil has just been offered a job with the National Security Agency where he hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps analyzing and cracking coded messages from around the world When he deciphers a code that leads his team to believe that several rival guerilla factions in South America are in contact with each other some odd connections between the messages and Paul’s near death experience in Brazil begin to emergePaul is safely back in the states after his harrowing experience but it turns out he contracted a dangerous fungal infection during his time in Brazil He laughs it off as part of the life of a mycologist but Neil isn’t convinced Little by little Paul starts exhibiting signs of increased intelligence like beating Neil at Scrabble and chess which is highly unusual Even worrisome Paul’s memory has become nearly perfect He can suddenly recall everything he’s heard or seen and he’s even able to calculate complex math problems in his head And that’s not all As Paul begins to act stranger and stranger the political unrest in South America starts escalating and it’s not long before it looks like the US might be drawn into a war Are these events connected? It’s up to Neil and his team at the NSA to find out—and uick—before all hell breaks looseI’ve read a fair number of novels in the past few years that deal with fungi and mushrooms and all the horrible things they can do The Genius Plague is uniue in that the fungi not only enhance the intelligence of their hosts but they are able to influence their behavior as well You can imagine what a dangerous idea this is especially when Walton reveals what it is that the fungus wants Yes wants It wants something Just think about that for a moment The fungus of the story—paracoccidioidomycosis—is a real thing just one of many carefully researched details that make the idea of a mind controlling fungus unbelievably scaryBut you can't have a great story without great characters and there were so many in this book Because most of the story is told in first person from Neil’s point of view he basically serves as the main character And I completely enjoyed hanging out in his head Neil had some of the funniest scenes in the book He’s not big on authority and even though he’s just been hired to work in a super secret government agency he tends to break a lot of rules and get in a lot of trouble Luckily his brashness is tempered by his boss a fantastic woman named Melody Muniz Melody is an older woman and has been working for the NSA for years and she’s able to get Neil out of trouble than once Even better Melody actually likes Neil for his intelligence and his creative way of solving problems It was so refreshing to read a story about a smart older female character and her growing friendship with a smart younger male And I can’t talk about characters without mentioning Paul’s and Neil’s father Charles who has Alzheimer’s I have to admit the second I found out there was a character with the disease I knew exactly what was going to happen to him and I was right But obvious plot points aside the relationship between Charles Neil and Paul was the emotional core of the story Neil’s heartbreaking observations of his dad playing Scrabble with him and losing showed not only how horrible Alzheimer’s is but how much Neil loves his father Charles has uite the interesting character arc in the story which eventually leads to even heartbreak but this wouldn’t have been the same story without himThe final uarter of the book is both exciting and terrifying and I honestly could not figure out how the characters were going to get out of the pickle they were in The author even introduces a new threat near the end of the book as if there weren’t enough already which pushed the story into that “over the top” territory that David Walton is known for I wasn’t sure my heart could take all the tension and just like a thrill ride at an amusement park the experience was exhilarating but I did breathe a sigh of relief when events finally sorted themselves outOne thing’s for sure The Genius Plague will not only entertain but it will make you think Walton gives us several plausible scientific scenarios that are certainly not beyond the realm of possibility Highly recommendedBig thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy Stop by next Tuesday because I'll be interviewing author David Walton AND there might just be a giveaway of The Genius Plague as well; This review originally appeared on Books Bones Buffy


  10. says:

    The Genius Plague by David Walton is a very well written thriller which delves into the uestion of what does it mean to be human and is there a better way? Universal truths are put to the test as the action whips back and forth from the offices of the NSA to South America and back There is code breaking betrayal intrigue a nasty fungus in short everything you need for a tip top end of the world contagion catastrophe Unfortunately the excellent writing swift pace and well developed characters are betrayed by a couple of poor choices made by the author which saps much of the energy from the bookNeil Johns has always wanted to work for the NSA His father currently suffering from Alzheimer's was a codebreaker and Neil wants to follow in his footsteps On one of his first days on the job he breaks an unbreakable code that seems to be coming from the middle of the Rainforest Coincidentally Neil’s brother Paul Johns spends a lot of time in the Rainforest He’s a mycologist someone who studies fungi and begins the book in the midst of a trip down there to collect rare and unusual fungus samples There is gunfire bad guys a hot girl a swim and a walk in the woods That’s just the prologueWhat unfolds is a truly horrifying possibility of a fungal plague taking the world by storm Making it even frightening is the fact that those infected such as Paul get smarter happier and believe the plague is a good thing So is it a terrifying plague threatening to devour the world? Or the next step in human evolution?The first of the two issues which for me lessened my enjoyment of the book is the fact that it plays the first 175 pages as if it is a mystery The characters don’t know what is happening Or why people are acting like they’re acting Or what’s behind it all But we know Because we read the very first page of the book which pretty much tells us the answers to all those uestions I don’t know about you but I can’t stand watching characters try to figure things out the reader already knowsEventually Neil and his team figure everything out and spend the next 200 pages trying to figure out how to stop the fungus Now we’re all on the same page and they make some discoveries that are thrilling and shocking to us as well Human nature being what it is a very nasty twist arises upping the stakes tenfold that could make the fungus seem like the common cold Walton never lets up pumping action and discovery into the pages until they’re ready to explode Which they do or less during the exciting climaxWhich leads us to the second problem with the book The ending is RIDICULOUSLY unsatisfying Leading up to the ending I was excited to find out how Walton was going to tie up the loose ends and solve the various and multiple problems Then the book ends Almost as if Walton was having difficulty answering all those uestions himself and said “You know screw it I’m done”So yes the very first page of the book is a problem And the very last page is a problem Between those two pages however is a very exciting read