Prelude to Chaos
Series: Douglas Convolution 3
Reviewed date: 2020 Jun 17
When we meet Gavin Knox, he's a prisoner at The Pen. Escape is impossible. But with help from fellow inmate Judith Grenfell, the two escape. It's not a bad action sequence.
Gavin Knox wants to escape so he can kill Attorney General Gerald Futrell, who he knows is behind the assassination of President Arnold Grainer. Judith Grenfell needs to escape because she knows a terrible secret: a commonly-used over-the-counter drug, Paxin, actually makes people suggestible and controllable. The government is hiding this knowledge so they can continue using its effects to control the public. Grenfell has her research data hidden, and with Gavin's help, she can publish it and blow the lid on the whole conspiracy.
Don't switch conspiracies in mid-stream
So after the two escape, and then nearly get killed trying to contact Judith Grenfell's old colleagues, they seek refuge at Sherando, a Settlement established by a separatist religious cult of Believers. It turns out the whole Paxin thing isn't really a conspiracy. Everybody knows about it. If Judith Grenfell published her research, nobody would bat an eye. At this point, the author kind of casually slips in another conspiracy theory: there's another drug, called Impermease, that has been used for decades as a contraceptive, as an anti-cancer treatment and even as a miracle agricultural pesticide. Truly, Impermease is a miracle. But hey, it turns out a long-term effect is that it's causing the human race to go extinct. Any female child born to a woman who has ingested Impermease will grow up to be sterile. After being in use worldwide for decades, an entire generation of women is unable to bear children. The human race will surely die.
Except, conveniently, for the Believers in their Settlements. They eschewed any drug or technology or chemical made after 1990, so they have not used Impermease, and their women are fertile. So very, very fertile. And don't think the rest of America hasn't noticed. They have, and they're coming to steal the Believer women.
Everything goes pear-shaped at Sherando. Gavin and Judith escape on motorcycles and make their way to another Believer Settlement, Sutton Cove. But it's the same problem at Sutton Cove--eventually, the government (or a mob of men) will be coming for their women. Sutton Cove is not easily defensible, so they hatch a daring plan: they'll attack and take over The Pen. The former prison (it was closed after Gavin and Judith escaped) is self-sufficient and it's easily defensible. It's touch-and-go, but they make it work.
Overall, I don't know. It's a weird book. It never felt totally like science fiction to me, even though it's undeniably got science fiction elements in it. It just felt...well, like a setting in search of a story, but the story never quite made sense.
Attorney General Gerald Futrell
President Arnold Grainer
Vice-President Mike Randolph
Lost of fertility
Stefan Sline, Sherry Cranston
Secret Service Director Humboldt
Dr. Eugene Drummond
Jim (James Cranston) and Audrey (Audrey Sullivan)
Dr. Margaret Randolph
Dr. Muriel Zworkin
Sutton Cove, Maine