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Unexpectedly, the long-lost first manned Jupiter probe has returned--but only a madman would have tried to land it at Kennedy International! The result is the biggest air disaster in history. And that's only the beginning: now comes THE JUPITER PLAGUE.
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A science fiction novel from the early 80s about doctors fighting a plague brought back on a ship from Jupiter. I remember reading and quite enjoying some of Harry Harrison's novels in the past, notably his Stainless Steel Rat series. But either my memory for the quality of Harrison's writing is extremely fallible, or he really ought to stick to the goofy action-adventure stuff and leave attempts at more serious stories to other people. This one does have a couple of moments with a nice, old-fashioned, classic science fiction feel towards the end, but mostly it's pretty terrible. The medical details are unconvincing, as are various other elements of the plot. The scenes of rioting and looting as the plague progresses feel like stock-footage cliches. The dialog sometimes approaches B-movie levels of badness. There are smatterings of bad grammar, including a number of awkward comma splices and a complete failure to grasp the correct typography used for ship names. And there's an infuriating element of sexism that I might have been able to shrug off in a book published ten years earlier, but which should damned well have been on its way out by 1982. (Yes, this was based on a story originally published in the 1960s. No, that doesn't excuse it.) Honestly, I am not easily given to fits of feminist rage, but there's something about the particular condescending "There, there honey, you're a good little doctor, all cute in your short little lab coat, all you need is a man to help you with those squishy female emotions" attitude that makes me want to hit things. Starting with the characters, and moving on to the author. In fact, that alone is enough to downgrade it from two stars (which I translate as "Not a Good Book") down into one-star territory. On the whole, it's more amusing than painful, and at least it's quick to get through, but, man, did it manage to actively piss me off every time the only important female character appeared in a scene.read more
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