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The Silk Code
ISBN 0812567757 / 9780812567755 / 0-8125-6775-7
Publisher Tor Science Fiction
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Phil D'Amato, a forensic scientist working for the NYPD, is visiting an old friend in rural Pennsylvania--home of the Amish. When the friend with no known allergies drops dead of a sudden allergic reaction, D'Amato decides to investigate. He finds himself at the center of a 30,000 year-old biowar being waged with genetically engineered weapons. As he probes deeper, it becomes apparent that the Amish are not the technophobes they appear to be.
In his first novel, Levinson was not afraid to tackle big concepts. His narrative spans 1,300 years and several continents, from the Tocharians, a tribe living in Xinjiang on the Silk Road route around 750 A.D., to a New York library janitor who may or may not be entirely human. When the bodies of what look like recently dead Neanderthals start turning up in Toronto and London, the book revs into high gear. We hurtle through a dozen murders, theories for the origins of Homo sapiens and the demise of the Neanderthals; touch on aspects of the philosophy of science and the possibility that cave paintings are really prehistoric movies; and wrap up with an interesting vision of what humanity might have been--if only things had turned out differently.
Phil D'Amato made his first appearance in Analog, and fans of his forensic sleuthing will love this full-length treatment. It is biological SF of the Old School--plenty of adventure with no fancy writing and very little character development to get in the way of the plot. --Luc Duplessis [via]