Slatewiper

by Lewis Perdue

Summary

The lurking dark side of genetic therapies, especially those to treat ethnically linked diseases such as sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis, has gotten no public attention but could prove to be far more dangerous than the potential dangers of genetically modified foods.

The issue is a potentially catastrophic one because the knowledge gained by mapping the human genome will allow unscrupulous people to turn genetic therapies into bioweapons of mass destruction capable of targeting specific ethnic populations.

These types of genocidal "neutron bombs" would be capable of reaching into a diverse urban population and killing only those people whose genome had DNA sequences that coded for certain sequences and leaving others untouched. These genetic markers could be such obvious ones as skin color or less visible ones such as the Y-chromosome sequences shared by large numbers of Jewish men named Cohen, a large number of whom trace their lineage to the Hebrew priesthood.

High-speed, automated techniques to identify DNA sequences contained only in the target population and absent in aggressor's forces can allow the production and deployment of a "perfect "bioweapon which needs no protective gear for the attackers or decontamination after deployment.

The knowledge base necessary to produce bioagents that kill grows every day as medical science and pharmaceutical companies increasingly recognize ethnic differences in the effectiveness of drug therapies.

The book begins as Lara Blackwood, genetic engineering entrepreneur and presidential advisor, learns that her company has been acquired by a Japanese pharmaceutical company in order to develop an ethnic-targeted bioweapon which will be tested by providing a "Final Solution" to the immigrant Korean population which Japanese neo-nationalists feel could pollute their racial purity.

The action begins when Blackwood receives a call from an old college friend who asks her help in solving a ghastly epidemic in Tokyo. She agrees to help and, with a single phone call, sets in motion a chain of death and mayhem stretching from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, and Japan.

To her horror, she discovers that her life's work in developing cures for ethnic-linked genetic diseases has been perverted to produce a revolutionary new weapon that kills by turning people's own chromosomes against them.

Now Lara must risk assassination to expose the conspiracy behind "Slatewiper"-before a nightmarish terrorist scheme threatens the entire human race with extinction.

Originally written in 1993, Slatewiper was deemed too far-fetched by publishers, but ten years later, the technology and world events have caught up with the plot.

A running discussion throughout Slatewiper is the issue of "race" as it is popularly conceived, its scientific relevance, significance to society and culture as well as its two-edged blade that can be used for good (better disease treatment) and evil (genocide).

Historical Basis

In addition to its scientific basis, Slatewiper's premise rests on a solid foundation of historical research, among which are the following facts:

* FACT: The Imperial Japanese government in World War II carried out a now-forgotten holocaust that resulted in the massacre of more than 4 million "racially inferior" people (The Japanese government's term) -- Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Filipinos, Caucasians, Blacks -- anyone who was not Japanese.

* FACT: The current Japanese leadership - including the prime minister -- has refused (unlike Germany) to apologize for its war atrocities, continues to pay homage to World War II war criminals, promotes a neo-nationalist philosophy that holds that Japan is racially pure and superior to other people and continues to treat Koreans living in Japan in much the same manner as non-whites in the old apartheid South Africa.

* FACT: Japanese medical atrocities equaled or exceeded those of the Third Reich's "Angel of Death" Dr. Josef Mengele.

* FACT: At the end of World War II, the Japanese bacteriological warfare effort was the most advanced in the world.

* FACT: The U.S. government covered up Japanese medical atrocities and granted immunity to the war criminals involved in order to develop the U.S. military's own bacteriological warfare effort aimed at the Soviet Union.


More Summaries

Genetic engineering has created a new form of simple life which is perverted into a lethal bioweapon able to target ethnic groups.

The new form of life is harmless by itself but is used to re-activate an ancient, catastrophically deadly retrovirus lurking in the uncharted introns of the human genome.

This ancient "Slatewiper" retrovirus was responsible for the major population decline in the dawn of humankind and only a single base mutation rendered it harmless and prevented the extinction of homo sapiens.

The ancient retrovirus is a time-bomb hidden in every human being.

The new form of simple life has been altered to reactivate the retroviral Slatewiper sequence when it's found in the presence of specific gene sequences such as those found in targeted geographic or ethnic populations.

The action starts when Lara Blackwood, genetic engineering entrepreneur and presidential advisor, receives a call from an old college friend who asks her help in solving a ghastly epidemic in Tokyo. She agrees to help and, with a single phone call, sets in motion a chain of death and mayhem stretching from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, and Japan.

To her horror, she discovers her life's work in developing cures for ethnic-linked genetic diseases has been perverted to produce a revolutionary new weapon that kills by turning people's own chromosomes against them.

Now Lara must risk assassination to expose the conspiracy behind "Slatewiper"-before a nightmarish terrorist scheme threatens the entire human race with extinction.

Originally written in 1993, Slatewiper was deemed too far-fetched by publishers, but ten years later, the technology and world events have caught up with the plot.

A running discussion throughout Slatewiper is the issue of "race" as it is popularly conceived, its scientific relevance, significance to society and culture as well as its two-edged blade that can be used for good (better disease treatment) and evil (genocide).

From Kirkus Reviews

Molecular geneticist Lara Blackwood, cofounder and CEO of GenIntron, a bioengineering lab, is an entrepreneur who develops new disease treatments with synthetic genes made from junk DNA in the human genome.

When Tokyo is hit hard by a supermysterious, fast-acting "Korean disease" universally fatal to its victims, Lara, fired from GenIntron by its new parent company in Japan, Daiwan Ichiban, is taken on by the White House as presidential aide in genetic development. As it happens, not a single Japanese, only the detested Koreans in Tokyo�s Korean ghetto, die of the Korean Leprosy in the test run of an ethnic bioweapon that focuses the disease on people bearing Korean genes.

The Slatewiper, whose synthetic gene reduces people to slime and then into a bloodburst, is the weapon by which Daiwan Ichiban�s top gun Tokutaru Kurata means to purify Japan of foreigners and boost fervent nationalism.

The Saudis want GenIntron to formulate a bug that will kill all Jews in Israel, while actual production of the materials will be in Japan at Daiwan Ichiban. The president himself, apparently fearful of Tokutaru Kurata, warns Lara off from pursuing the source of the Korean Leprosy.

But Lara has won two Olympic medals and begun a solo round-the-world sail, is tall for a woman, a martial-arts adept, and not to be dissuaded by a mere president. Clearly, the day must come when she goes man-to-man with Sheila Gaillard, the bad guys� hugely vicious and skillful hit woman who murders one by one all of Lara�s scientific helpers as Lara works undercoverto unearth a bio-weapon for which she is partly responsible. And not even Sheila having her face splashed with frozen hydrogen can stop her.

Rich research for science/action thrills.


From Booklist

In Tokyo, a particularly violent and deadly plague has broken out. Inexplicably, it seems as if the virus only uses Koreans as its carrier. Enter Lara Blackwood, a genetic engineer recruited to fight this virus that somehow piggybacks itself on people with specific genetic characteristics. Ejected from her own company, Lara sees in this investigation her chance to get herself back in the research game, but she doesn't count on uncovering a genetic weapon of unimaginable power, a weapon that appears to have its origins in her own work. Like the high-tech medical thrillers of Michael Crichton, this novel deftly combines hard science and narrative panache. Perdue has crafted a story that grips the reader's imagination: Can this be real? Is it possible for such a weapon to exist? Remarkably, Perdue unflinchingly treads on Crichton's turf but emerges with a novel that feels fresh and original. A must for medical-thriller devotees. David Pitt Copyright � American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Publisher's Weekly

Humanity's very existence is at stake in this latest hair-raiser by Perdue (Daughter of God), a no-holds-barred biogenetic thriller. Lara Blackwood, founder of GenIntron, a company devoted to gene manipulation as a method of fighting genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and sickle-cell anemia, is a tough hybrid of brilliant scientist, beauty and fighter.

As the novel begins, GenIntron has been forced into economic difficulty and bought by the internationally powerful Japanese Daiwa Ichiban Corporation and its racist head, Tokutaro Kurata. In his first move, Kurata perverts Blackwood's work by creating a new genetic weapon, graphically named Slatewiper, with which he intends to rid Tokyo of its hated Korean immigrants.

Thousands of dead Koreans fill the streets, and puzzled doctors postulate a new and unknown disease. Kurata dreams of reviving Japanese militarism, refusing to acknowledge defeat in WWII and denying the horrifying Japanese atrocities of that war and earlier Asian wars. He plans to sell the deadly gene to nations wishing to eliminate their own minorities, or for use against enemies, while plotting to promote Japanese superiority and racial purity.

Aiding Kurata is Blackwood's nemesis, Sheila Gaillard, as beautiful and brilliant as Blackwood and altogether deadly, and Kurata's nephew and heir, American-taught Akira Sugawara, loyal but finally driven to rebellion by the horrors he witnesses.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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