book review: The Culling


The Culling by Robert Johnson. Publisher: The Permanent Press (January 7, 2014). Thriller. Hardcover. 336 pages. ISBN 978-1-57962-351-7.

“Although a single, complete virus strand is enough to pass along the infection from one human to another, ideally it would require some 30, 000 individual strands of the virus to ensure transmission. 30, 000—that’s the approximate dosage one might expect if, say, riding for 10 minutes or so in a bus in which an infected passenger has coughed or sneezed. That would ensure transmission best.”

Human beings are destroying the planet. Over-consumption, over-population, over-crowding. Species being destroyed because humans encroach on their natural habitats. People don’t take climate change seriously. There are seven billion people living on Earth, a planet that can manage two billion inhabitants.

In this smart, disturbing thriller author Robert Johnson effectively mixes science and philosophy with alarming results. CDC [Centers for Disease Control] virologist Carl Sims, in the field studying a flu outbreak, discovers a potentially disastrous plot by a rogue group of world-renowned and award-winning scientists to cull two-thirds of the world’s population by releasing a deadly virus that kills two-thirds of those it infects. It’s a dizzying concept filled with conceit, genius and audacity. Isn’t the world heading for self-destruction anyway so why not slow it down some or start anew? These scientists targeted Carl thinking he might be sympathetic to the cause. His late father was a global population control advocate having devised the “Two is Enough” plan. Carl thinks that studying any other infectious disease would be more exciting than being tasked to the influenza virus. Now he might be humanity’s only hope.

Johnson provides fascinating information about how the CDC and WHO [World Health Organization] annually make flu vaccines on a global scale—the research, the projections, the planning, the production. As you wonder how this possible fictional catastrophe will resolve, you’ll find yourself contemplating real life solutions to current environmental concerns with water shortages, ice cap thawing, air pollution and the over-all climate crisis that’s eclipsing our quality of life.

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from The Permanent Press.

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