By Derek Gunn
I started reading F Paul Wilson back in 1981 with The Keep, and the book remains on the top shelf, the one reserved for my favorites, to this day (along with quite a few of his other books). This novel kicked off the truly excellent Adversary Cycle which brought in several characters, Repairman Jack being the most famous, with 23 books at this point, from other books in a wonderful apocalyptic series.
Fast forward more than 30 years and Wilson has written in nearly every genre: science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, a children’s Christmas book (with a monster, of course), medical thrillers and political thrillers. He has been a regular visitor to the New York Times bestseller list and has won many awards, including the Bram Stoker. The Keep was also made into an excellent movie.
THE GOD GENE is the second book in the ICE Sequence which began with Panacea in 2016. I was planning on waiting for all three books before I started these, something I like to do with favourite authors so I don’t have to wait for the next piece if they leave it on a cliffhanger. Anyway, the need to do a review meant that I had to read both books in quick succession. Not a chore in any way, I can assure you.
The first book introduces us to Rick and Laura as they search for the fabled panacea of legend. Despite a single cure-all being medically impossible, Assistant ME Laura Fanning finds herself with dead bodies which are in impossible condition. Her investigations lead her on a quest financed by a terminally ill multi-millionaire. Of course, the hunt is not without its perils, as religious fanatics are determined to wipe all traces of the panacea from the earth.
Wilson is a qualified MD and his knowledge shines throughout the story. The characters are believable, likable, and the story flies along at an alarming pace. I would recommend reading Panacea before reading THE GOD GENE, as there is a large back story which is important for the continuing story.
THE GOD GENE begins about a month after the first book. Rick’s brother has gone missing and his erratic behaviour before he disappeared, and a mystery surrounding a previously unknown species, lead Rick and Laura in a search that will, again, pit them against dangers and impossible revelations about the world in which we live.
The theme of “outside” influences on the human race again comes to the forefront in this book. The idea that evolution, miracles and unexplained phenomena throughout mankind’s history is a recurring theme in Wilson’s books, and he handles the disbelief of a modern doctor and the uncompromising fanaticism of religious groups with equal gusto. Influences and story threads from Panacea continue to impact in this novel as the mystery grows.
I had become quite jaded with thrillers that all had similar plots where ancient mysteries come crashing into modern life and mayhem and violence ensue. The ICE sequence is different. It looks forward rather than back. It confronts moral dilemmas and questions mankind’s place in the universe. It poses questions that are difficult to answer.
I was lucky enough to get a few questions to the author for The Big Thrill.
Can you give us an understanding of how your writing process works? Do you have a ritual, do you plan out every detail or do you see where the story leads?
I get up 6:30-ish, make coffee, run through my fan sites and social media, set my Freedom app to keep me off the Net, and get to work. I used to outline a lot more; now I list story beats. But I always know how the story’s going to end. You owe the reader a satisfying ending. Sometimes I’ll work out a careful chronology of the events that led up to the story and are motivating the characters.
It is amazing how your books all tie into a vast chronology. Was this always your intention or did it evolve over time?
For the science fiction I started writing in the ’70s, I definitely wanted to connect the stories via a Future History a la Heinlein. When I moved on to The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch, Black Wind, etc., I never thought of connecting them. They were intended as stand-alones. But when asked to write a sequel to The Keep, I started seeing connections that were probably subconscious at the time I wrote them. The Secret History evolved from that and has become huge.
What are your thoughts on e-books? Do they help or hinder the modern author?
I love e-books. That’s all I read. I never travel without an overloaded Kindle. For works in public domain—nothing is better. I just downloaded The Delphi Complete Works of Mark Twain for $2.99. (I’m not kidding – $2.99.) I’ve self-published a few titles on my own – stuff that’s the wrong length or too politically incorrect for a commercial publisher, or something like my Ephemerata, which I will keep updating as new material surfaces. (Did you know that about e-books? If you bought the old edition and a revision comes along, you simply reload the title for the update.)
The moral dilemma of controlling something like a panacea is truly daunting. Do you think we would ever be able to handle such responsibility?
The panacea as I have it can be made from a backyard garden—if you know the secrets of success. It couldn’t be controlled. Everyone would have it, as everyone should. The social upheavals would be enormous but, as with everything, a new equilibrium would eventually establish itself.
If you were given one paragraph to convince people to buy your novel what would it say?
That’s a tough one because the ICE novels have so much going on. Everything I like is in them: A weird-ass maguffin, extraordinary characters, thrills, chills, violent death, romance, mystery, adventure, exotic locales, hard science, and hints of unwelcome cosmic meddling. A typical Wilson farrago.
What’s next – please say the next book in ICE is coming really soon?
Just this week I finished a draft of Nadaný, the third (and possibly last) book in the ICE sequence. Next up is a Repairman Jack novel set between Infernal and Ground Zero.
~ ~ ~
Do yourself a favour and lose yourself to this impressive body of work. You won’t look back–well, maybe once or twice, just to make sure there’s nothing behind you.
F. PAUL WILSON is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of over 50 books. His work spans horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, young adult, and virtually everything between. His novels have been adapted into bad films and translated into twenty-four languages. His latest thrillers are Panacea and THE GOD GENE.
To learn more, please visit his website.