After seeing a review we had done for a science-based thriller a few months ago, Amy Rogers approached us about looking at her novel Petroplague. It sounded like a very interesting concept, so I read it. Not only was it interesting but it was also a very believable thriller, a la Michael Crichton, thanks in part to Amy’s background in microbiology and biochemistry. And she’s sponsoring an international giveaway for us to host!
For some reason, Los Angeles is the city people love to destroy. We’re used to being disaster central by now and it makes for great entertainment. One of the things that makes it such a good location for disaster scenarios is that Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains, dessert and the ocean on three sides, making it a tough place to escape from on foot. Petroplague is an entirely new way to bring LA to its knees. Enjoy!
Christina Gonzalez is a UCLA grad student who’s right on the verge of getting her PhD. She’s been working on her thesis project with Dr. Robert Chen to develop a way to use biotech to free the U.S. from our dependence on oil. Her little genetically altered bacteria look like a real breakthrough. She’s excited to see whether the final tests will result in it going into production.
“’If it works, our technology will allow oil companies to extract hydrocarbons from non-conventional oil fields that currently aren’t in production. Your eco friends are worried that opening all those new fields to development will add to global warming.’”
Little does she know that a misguided eco-terrorist, Neil, has decided to drop a small bomb into an abandoned filling station storage tank containing her test field of bacteria, releasing it from its contained environment into the oil and methane fields that lie underneath Los Angeles. He thinks he’s going to make the world a greener place if he can force it to rid itself of its dependence on oil – and make a name for himself in the process.
The first clue that something may not be quite right is while Christina is volunteering at the La Brea Tar Pits. The tar lake in front of the museum suddenly begins erupting with huge methane bubbles that burst way out beyond the normal barrier, coating tourists in tar. Large methane bubbles are not that uncommon at the tar pits but no one is used to seeing any that large. Still it’s easy to rationalize as a normal, if rare, anomaly since the mid-Wilshire area sits on top of large methane deposits. After all, a methane explosion blew up a retail store a few blocks away just a couple of decades before (something that actually happened and momentarily sent property values in the area into a tail spin).
“Christina had been waiting for a chance to tell some school kids on a field trip that the bubbles were bacteria farts. Today, she was puzzled by the magnitude of the fart required to expel asphalt fifteen feet from the edge of the tar seep. If the bubble had risen in the middle of the lake, then the droplets had flown even further.”
And then things begin to go downhill rapidly. Cars come to a standstill as the bacteria begin to convert all petroleum, including gasoline, into hydrogen and acetic acid. Planes fall out of the Los Angeles sky because jet fuel is not immune to this bug. Hydrogen fires and explosions kill people who can’t see the invisible fires, and walk right into them. Los Angeles, the ultimate motor city, grinds to a complete stand-still and people are scared because they don’t know what’s happening. It’s just a very short matter of time before food and other trucked-in resources dry up, the city becomes utter chaos and the thin veneer of civilization falls away.
“A metallic boom and the sound of shattering glass came from the garage. Men shouted. An alarm went off. Shawna and the other customers in the lounge dashed for the exit…She recognized her car. It was suspended in the air on a post lift, engulfed in flames like an overheated marshmallow on a stick. She stared at it in disbelief…’So much for preventive maintenance.’”
Now it’s up to Christina and Dr. Chen to find some way to stop their bacteria before it gets out of the Los Angeles basin and into the world’s petroleum supplies. They’re under tremendous pressure because LA has become a ticking time bomb. But they have enemies they don’t even know about, who will stop at nothing to prevent them from succeeding.
It’s wonderful to read a thriller like Petroplague whose author knows her subject backwards and forwards, and demonstrates it on every page. As someone who lives in the LA area, I always look for signs that someone doesn’t know this area or how it operates. Amy Rogers nails every aspect of LA, from neighborhoods to our isolation in the event of a disaster like this one. The LA basin’s a hard place to get into or out of when something bad enough happens. Without a motor vehicle, it’s basically impossible.
Amy Rogers also nails the science big time, and even provides technical notes at the end. On the surface, Petroplague looks like a disaster that could take mankind back to its pre-industrial stage; however, the consequences are much, much farther reaching than that. It’s a fun “what if” novel. Another one I couldn’t put down!
Read an excerpt and view the Petroplague trailer at AmyRogers.com. Now available in hardcover, paperback, and all digital formats from your favorite bookseller below:
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This one is a little complicated. It is international, with a caveat.
There will be 1 winner, who will receive a copy of Petroplague by Amy Rogers.
If the winner has a U.S. mailing address, they can specify whether they want a hard-copy novel or whether they prefer a Kindle or Nook e-book.
If the winner is non-U.S., they will only have the option of an e-book from one of these sources: Amazon.com, Amazon.UK or Amazon.DE.
Please note: If you are non-U.S. and you don’t have access to Amazon.com, Amazon.UK or Amazon.DE then you are not eligible to win.
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 11/12/2011, at 11:59pm EST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries as specified above under The Giveaway.
3) You must be at least 13 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Facebook, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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