Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lesser Prophets by Kelly Sinclair

Publisher:                        Blue Feather Books

Kelly Sinclair takes a story off of the front page of the newspaper to tell a tale in Lesser Prophets that is somewhat apocalyptic and based on a frightening possibility, with a twist.

Secret experiments in China cause a variety of swine flu to mutate and then it escapes into the human population.  People eventually die by the billions, heterosexual people.  A component of this virus causes it to infect people who are genetically homosexual, but it doesn't kill them.  They become carriers and lethal to those people who don't carry the correct genetic material.  Variant Swine Flu, VSF, doesn't play favorites.  As leaders of countries and CEOs of corporations are wiped out, so are the poor in the slums, middle class office workers and those who can afford to barricade themselves in their homes, only to die there.  Societies spin out of control and gay people suddenly find themselves both the hope for anyone's survival and hated for their ability to transmit the illness.  The book illustrates what steps civilization would take to survive and the ironic circumstance that the people who were once among the most hated and persecuted are now the leaders everyone looks to for answers.

Sinclair uses the first person accounts of five women to tell the events. As she rotates them through each chapter, it creates the feeling of reading random pages from a collection of diaries and gives the story a very personal feeling.  A number of issues are raised for the reader to consider.  The tests on gay people who die show that they did not carry the gay gene, yet they identified that way, opening the issue of the impact of "nature versus nurture." When the decision is made to try to save heterosexuals by putting them in isolated domes and camps, the conflict over how many civil rights a person should give up for the public good recalls incidents like the Japanese-American internment camps.  People who have never been "out" are suddenly identified to everyone because they survive and people who never realized they were gay and had happy straight unions are confronted with the reality that their genetic code meant them to be something else.  The book doesn't preach about these issues.  They are simply presented along with others as problems that the new world has to deal with and the reader is left to think about the implications of all of them.  Sinclair doesn't provide neat answers for them either.

Lesser Prophets is a different type of book.  It qualifies as science fiction because of the topic, but the topic is also one that could very possibly occur if in a different form.  It isn't a romance, although there are love stories in it.  Those who expect every book to have a sex scene won't find that here.  It is one that will make the reader think and, when the book is finished, have to think about whether or not the book was liked.   

Reading Lesser Prophets is a different experience and trying something different occasionally is probably a good thing to do.

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