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The White Plague by Frank Herbert

The White Plague (1982)

by Frank Herbert

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I dug this one out for a change of pace. I'd looked it over before, but hadn't read it. But I'm usually desperate for new reading material, so I decided to give it a try.

The basic plot is that a crazed scientist develops a plague designed to infect and kill women. It gets worldwide distribution, and so all of womankind faces the possibility of extinction - soon to be followed by all men, of course.

It's set in the modern day, or possibly in the near future - but so near that there's nothing to distinguish it from the present. Well, the present as of 1982, since a key plot point is the Irish Republican Army.

The book was surprisingly riveting - it was almost impossible to put down until I was about three-fours of the way through. And it's a LONG book. But towards the end the whole thing began to pall. With most women dead, and the major character in an incredibly bleak situation, the book became awfully hard to read towards the end. And I found the ending itself quite unpleasant. Herbert was an incredibly gifted and intelligent writer, and I cannot make any criticism of his technique in this book; I just don't like what he had to say. Not everyone would feel the same way, obviously. ( )
  PMaranci | Apr 3, 2013 |
Another hit on the Frank Herbert "other than Dune" list of works. It's a visceral study of revenge and politics, and I recommend it. ( )
  Prop2gether | Jun 15, 2012 |
Life is too short to invest in this one. I got through the first 100 pages and just could not read any more. ( )
  beachmama43 | Nov 17, 2011 |
The White plague is not particularly pleasant, but tells the gripping story of John O'Niell, who is a molecular biologist studying the genetic patterns of native Irish in an approximation of the modern day when it was published, that being 1982. You can tell by the level of computer technology. Anyway, he is looking out a bank window waiting to complete some business and sees a car bomb go off below him as he is watching his wife and twin children walk away on a shopping errand. They are obviously killed and he is so distraught by the incident that he fractures in to a few separate personalities. One of these goes in to hiding and ingeniously creates a plague virus that is highly contagious and targeted to specifically kill women. He sends the virus to Ireland, England and Libya in payment for the death of his family in a terrorist bombing. (The IRA received materiel and training from Libya). The plague escalates and endangers the continuity of humanity, cities and regions are isolated by burned borders or are simply nuked out of existence to stop the spread of the death. There are obvious disruptions of systems, both religious and political. Yada yada yada, the hunt for a cure leads to revolutions in genetic engineering and the reduced population of women has a huge impact on future society as well.

For something so morbid and destructive, it is actually an entertaining read. Frank Herbert is a man of great ideas and intellect as well as a brilliant writer. Many of the characters are Irish and he perfectly captures the nuances of the Irish accent. Very well done story. ( )
1 vote DirtPriest | Sep 10, 2010 |
I've always enjoyed Frank Herbert - until now. I hadn't heard of this title so when it came across my hands at work, I was excited to try it out and the story sounds good! Women are virtually extinct, wiped out by a plague that affects only them - societies crumble and fragment into smaller ones, governments topple, whole countries get "cleansed" by fire (the only sure way to obliterate the carriers - who are males) - it sounds like an interesting apocalytpic tale. But it didn't live up to that - it's often plodding, too slow for all that happens. The creator or this plague does so out of grief and revenge and Herbert tries to make him into some villain, but I just thought he was whiny and petty, frankly. Lots of people suffer grief - they don't destroy the world! Anyway, it was ok but it took some serious work to get through. 2.5 stars ( )
  jlparent | Aug 27, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
These are the trappings of a Graham Greene moral thriller, but Herbert moves them into the arena of science fiction with some frightening speculations on medical warfare and some chilling ideas about the future imperfect, a hazardous place even without the threat of a nuclear holocaust.
added by Shortride | editTime, Peter Stoler (Nov 15, 1982)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Herbertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Echevarria, AbeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was an ordinary gray British Ford, the spartan economy model with right-hand drive customary in Ireland.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425065553, Mass Market Paperback)

What if women were an endangered species?

It begins in Ireland, but soon spreads throughout the entire world: a virulent new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half of the human race dies off at a frightening pace and life on Earth faces extinction, panicked people and governments struggle to cope with the global crisis. Infected areas are quarantined or burned to the ground. The few surviving women are locked away in hidden reserves, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a cure. Anarchy and violence consume the planet.

The plague is the work of a solitary individual who calls himself the Madman. As government security forces feverishly hunt for the renegade scientist, he wanders incognito through a world that will never be the same. Society, religion, and morality are all irrevocably transformed by the White Plague.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:37 -0400)

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A warm day in Dublin, a crowded street corner. Suddenly, a car-bomb explodes, killing and injuring scores of innocent people.From the second-floor window of a building across the street, a visiting American watches, helpless, as his beloved wife and children are sacrificed in the heat and fire of someone else's cause.From this shocking beginning, the author of the phenomenal Dune series has created a masterpiece.The White Plague is a marvelous and terrifyingly plausible blend of fiction and visionary theme. It tells of one man's revenge, of the man watching from the window who is pushed over the edge of sanity by the senseless murder of his family and who, reappearing several months later as the so-called Madman, unleashes a terrible vengeance upon the human race. For John Roe O'Neill is a molecular biologist who has the knowledge, and now the motivation, to devise and disseminate a genetically carried plague-a plague to which, like those that scourged mankind centuries ago, there is no antidote, but one that zeros in, unerringly and fatally, on women. As the world slowly recognizes the reality of peril, as its politicians and scientists strive desperately to save themselves and their society from the prospect of human extinction, so does Frank Herbert grapple with one of the great themes of contemporary life: the enormous dangers that lurk at the dark edges of science.The White Plague is a prophetic, believable, and utterly compelling novel.… (more)

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