Wow, BRIAN O'GRADY was soaring along, flying high on eagle wings of science fiction excellence, cruising to an easy stellar recommendation from me with this gripping book HYBRID - unfortunately, the eagle makes a couple of unscheduled landings to act like a turkey, tarnishing the luster from what might have been a contender for the Hugo or Nebula Award.
The most important impression I want to leave with the reader is that this is a terrific book; get it, read it and enjoy it - because I certainly did. O'Grady is simply an excellent writer. His strength in creating believable, complex characters and placing them in extraordinary circumstances is considerable. Science fiction legend Ben Bova said that all great SF begins and ends with character. If you create vivid characters and then give them incredibly tough problems to solve - and nearly kill them in the process of an unfolding plot - what you have is a thrilling book, making it a joy to turn each page.
O'Grady does all that. So what's the problem? Well, for me, and inexplicably, O'Grady takes a couple of pointless detours - one is throwing in a bit about a conventional military action against Iran - which does absolutely nothing to advance his primary plot of biological terrorism.
But even that is not so bad as when it becomes obvious that O'Grady can't resist grinding a certain political ax here and there. He seems to create scenes specifically just to show that "enhanced interrogation techniques" (the euphemism for torture, in this case, chemical torture) is more effective in getting tough nuts to crack than non-torture techniques. He takes a considerable dig at Vietnam-era war protestors -- (you know, those deluded people who thought Vietnam was a horrific mistake) - but at one point, O'Grady can't help but take a petty, below-the-belt shot at a liberal icon, the filmmaker Michael Moore. Why spoil a great work of SF just to throw a sucker punch?
It's all forgivable, however! O'Grady has a bright future. I understand his day job is that of neurosurgeon, but if that doesn't pan out for him, I think he can make it as a writer. I hope he develops a huge audience, and I eagerly await anything else this talented guy has to offer.
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