In Washington, the cherry trees didn’t bloom.
Daniel Frost is recruited by Homeland Security to investigate fellow botanist Alia Kerrigan as the bioterrorist responsible for this attack.
Alia is linked to environmental radicals, and is lovers with a shaman-turned-activist wanted for terrorism in Chile. But a series of suspicious accidents leads Daniel to question the influence of the Nonsantis Corporation within Homeland Security.
Alia and other ‘radical’ scientists discover the truth—a gene-modifying ‘accident’ created a retrovirus that turns off trees’ ability to bloom. The retrovirus threatens to destroy food crops worldwide--except crops genetically modified by Nonsantis.
Inside the trees’ genes lies a code that can defeat the mutation, if Alia can communicate this defense to the trees before Daniel’s dragnet finds her. Alia has to trust unlikely and mysterious allies and leap beyond the tools of science to take the bold and dangerous path of the untrained shaman.
AVAILABLE AUGUST 2012
Background for this book
Ten years ago I got stickers in my brain during a conversation about retrotransposons with my daughter, Laura, and her friend, Devin. They each went on to get Ph.D.'s in evolutionary biology, and I wrote a speculative suspense novel.
Many people know that about sixty-five million years ago, the dinosaurs went extinct, possibly because the earth’s atmosphere became dark due to volcanic or asteroid dust.
If it was that bad for dinosaurs, how did any plants survive? They live on light.
The genomic record carried in any plant shows that about sixty-five million years ago plants showed an explosion of retrotransposon activity. What are retrotransposons? They are the mobile elements in the plant genome, nick-named “jumping genes,” which recently have been shown not to be useless “junk genes” but rather used as spare parts with which the plant repairs itself and cleans up genetic errors which might lead to mutation. Is that how they got themselves through the darkening of the earth, changing their own genetics?
That’s the science. The novel is the dream that spun out from there. In the two years since I started the novel, science continues to evolve on this topic. I am pleased that it is accelerating in the same direction as my fictional speculation.
As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.”