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markk

markk

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Dated before its time

Copula Deception - Ph.D. Paul M. Valliant

One of the more interesting things about reading science fiction is encountering dated books. It's always fascinating to me to encounter visions of the future (which, like all fiction, is really about the present) which reflect outdated concepts about where we were going as a world or a species -- as much as I enjoy books like D. F. Jones's Colossus or Algis Budrys's Who? as novels in their own right, part of what makes them absorbing is how they reflect a vision of a Cold War that did not outlive them.

 

Yet every so often I encounter a novel that seems dated even from the moment it is produced. Paul Valliant's book is just such a work. It's a mix of thriller and police procedural set in a vague very-near-future of genetically-engineered viruses. Yet even though it was published in 2015 it feels as though most of it was written in the 1990s, with scientists using desktops and people communicating with fax machines.

 

This would be less of an issue if the book was well-written, but it is not. Valliant is one of those authors who tells rather than shows his readers what is happening, using descriptions that are often repeated just a few pages later. Better editing was needed -- but then such editing would have already made a thin book thinner still. It's best to simply pass over this rather poor contribution to the genre, a dated book which possesses little value beyond the gratification that author gained from seeing his name on its cover.