Chimera - Stephen Gallagher

Yeah, that basically characterizes both the basic plot and my general issues with its execution.

 

~~Moved from GR~~

Chimera

by Stephen Gallagher



I read this a while ago; I remember it only as one of those unfortunate novels in which a nonscientist writer tries to create a scientific horror/scifi story. It is full of naive stereotypes of scientists and portrays them as uncaring, selfish tinkerers who wish to open Pandora's box for personal gain. Also has that practically superstitious phobia of science and technology. It manages to create the most ludicrously inane monster imaginable: apparently (honest, kids!) we've never been able to create viable hybrids. (Tell that to mules.) And somehow, the Evil Scientists (TM) want to breed half-monkey hybrids because they can be used as slave labor and organ banks and whatnot because somehow no sense of decency or compassion will apply to them. (Tell that to PETA). And then somehow the monster gets loose and attacks in a frenzy of death and destruction.(DUH DUH DUMMM).

 

That's right.

A 5-foot half-monkey takes down about 20 people.

Apparently being half-monkey half-human gave you superpowers...definitely one to haunt your nightmares. Personally, I started shivering at the prospect of a curious little monkey on a rampage.

 

It all just goes to show how evil Science is.

 

The plot continues onwards, rather as you might expect, and the writer manages several more hysterical prognostications on the terrible destruction that Science will facilitate, etc. Yawn.


So why 2.5 stars, as opposed to, say, 1? Well, first, this was written in the 80s, before I was born. Wikipedia for fast factchecking didn't exist. People still used encyclopedias. The theme was very much in the style of the XFiles or Doctor Who or similar--a tremendous fear of losing control of science. This sort of story nowadays points to a lack of understanding and research, but in the 80s, I think science was more of an esoteric world, full of unknowns and potential armageddons. Despite my inability to shake my own POV, it seems unfair to rate it according to standards of now. Even so, this has got to be the least scary monster that it is possible to create. I'd go for killer plants a la John Wyndam over these.