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Publisher's Summary

From of the author of The Silk Code, winner of the 1999 Locus Award for Best First Novel, comes another intriguing blend of science fiction and hard-boiled police-procedural mystery.

The Consciousness Plague is about memory, more particularly, how the loss of memory, in slivers of time deducted from a growing number of individuals, can subtly undermine and play havoc with everything from the investigation of serial stranglings to candlelight dinners. Dr. D'Amato, NYPD forensic detective, investigates a spate of unusual cases of memory loss and finds evidence of a bacteria-like organism that has lived in our brains since our origin as a species and may be responsible for our very consciousness.

There's evidence for this consciousness bug in the ancient Phoenician and Viking cultures and everywhere Phil looks in our world. A new antibiotic crosses the blood-brain barrier and inadvertently kills this essential bug. Phil himself becomes a victim of the memory drain, and must struggle to get the proper authorities to pay attention before everyone loses so much memory that they forget that they forgot in the first place.

©2002 by Paul Levinson; (P)2004 Listen & Live Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Science Fiction, 2005

"Levinson's intelligent blend of police procedural and speculative fiction should appeal to fans of mystery and science fiction." (Library Journal)
"Intriguing speculation, solid sleuthing, and agreeably baffling suspects." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Levinson handles myth, history, science and police procedures with equal skill, earning high marks for intelligence and originality in the process." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.3 out of 5.0
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  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Carl
  • Pitman, NJ, USA
  • 09-09-04

Mixed Feelings

I have mixed feelings about this book. It's based on a good premise, and the first couple of chapters do a good job at setting up the plot. After that, it's not quite downhill, but it is rather flat. As I listened to this book, several things really bothered me. Food was constantly mentioned -- specific foods. In fact, food was mentioned at least 2 or 3 times in every chapter. Great detail was put into things that you really didn't need to know. But there was virtually no character development. I didn't feel like I knew the lead character -- instead, I knew the things around him. True, it's a first person story, but I'd rather know more about what the character is thinking instead of what the character is seeing or eating. It never put me to sleep, but I did find myself drifting off once in a while. The last two hours were really painful -- I couldn't wait for it to end, unfortunately. I don't recommend this for a commute. It had a good "radio show" quality, but it just needed to be a little more entertaining.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fun but predictable

Reminded me of "Snow Crash" but with mystery instead of humor. As detective stories go, it's somewhat predictable (a lot of 'who done it' intrigue). The science fiction part is also somewhat predictable. Overall, though, it's a fun listen - lots of sound effects/scary music - like an old radio mystery show.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • L. Tidwell
  • Wilsonville, OR United States
  • 11-06-04

WARNING: DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS BOOK WHILE DRIVING

This book has an interesting premise, but unfortunately that is where the interest ends. The narration makes it impossible to stay focused on the plot. The story's value cannot be determined because the read is boring. If you need a book to help you fall asleep, choose this one, because there's nothing here to keep you awake. WARNING: This is definitely NOT a book to listen to while driving or while operating heavy machinery . . . may cause drowsiness!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting Concept, Poor Story

The premise of this book is engaging. Memory loss and its causes/impacts make for a first-rate science fiction tale, but this one misses the mark -- not for its theories, but for the story it's wrapped in.

I couldn't help but think that in the hands of a more adept novelist, this would have been outstanding. The dialogue is OK, but the descriptive writing (setting/action) is awkward, particularly when it's to do with the personal relationship between the main character and his girlfriend, which on retrospect is nearly superfluous. Maybe the author added this relationship just to make it seem like the forensic scientist cum hero wasn't a total geekmo. I'm not sure, but I don't think he was really wanting for a sensitive alter ego.

I had five minutes left to finish the book and listened over the car stereo with my husband and kids present. Eye rolling and gagging ensued. I whole-heartedly concur.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Leiah
  • Golden, CO, USA
  • 06-11-05

Very smart work

The premise is well researched, interesting, and has enough science to keep me interested, while not being so scientific as to be incomprehensible to non-scientific minds. The author presents a facinating theory on the basis of human consciousness, and I know I will spend a good deal of research time on his concepts for the sheer pleasure of knowing more about his subject.

I rated this book lower than I would have liked to due to the ineptitude of the reader. I found his reading style to be extremely dull, flat to the point of monotonous. I honestly nearly put it down within a half hour of picking it up - but hung in there, and was glad I did. A better reader would make this story much more interesting, but having held in and continued the book, I found that the ineptitude of the reader was overshadowed by the story itself. I would tend to disagree with the reviewers who say that the character development is not there. Yes, it is first person, which is a difficult writing style to carry off, and could be better handled. However, I do feel that I gained a good insight into the main character and the closest of the secondary players. In point of fact, I found the train scene to be quite amusing. Being a train enthusiast myself may help in that regard, as I am experienced with the sociology of train travel, and could identify with the thought processes which are a more common luxury onboard train rather than the more common car and air travel. Overall a pleasant listen while remodeling my kitchen!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tony
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 09-23-04

So bad I couldn't finish it!

The biggest problem with this was the implausibility of the lead character and the plot. A few people get the flu and lose their memory and he's off hypothesisng about the Phoenicians and Atlantis (and he's a detective to boot). I don't know how it turned out because I just couldn't finish it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sherry
  • Southington, OH, USA
  • 07-09-04

A very smart sci-fi, mystery.

This is a good who done it mystery with the perfect blend of sci-fi, suspense and sense. Filled with character intelligence, not easy to forget. Pick this book.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • Thornton, CO, USA
  • 11-05-04

Couldn't make it through

I tried, honestly, I did, to make it through this audiobook. I just couldn't do it. The plot had me intrigued, but the prose was flat and - as was mentioned earlier - focused on things that added nothing to a scene (e.g. food). For example, there was one line that read something like "She handed me the lemonade. It was delicious." Gah, awful, awful, and unnecessary too!

I found the exposition clumsy and painful as well - anytime one character brought up something even remotely obscure, the other character would say "Ah yes, you mean..." and then proceed to give us a world history of the obscure topic. People do not talk like that - at least not anyone I know.

Anyway, interesting plot, poor delivery. I'd pass.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Forget it!

This book has a so-so premise, but is ruined by terrible writing and the plot. The characters are flat, and the dialog between them is always a contruct just to move the story forward. On the other hand, the author wastes our time on boring details that have nothing to do with anything (e.g., looking for the old man on the train).I got so frustrated after 4 hours of this that I gave up on it. The worst of Philip K. Dick is 100 time better than this.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting, but not quite there

This book had sound effects; kind of cool, but it lacked characters and it got boring really fast. I did want to see how it turned out, but didn't bother listening through the whole book.

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  • Overall
  • Heather MacMillan
  • 11-11-17

Another enjoyable blend of SF and mystery

Really enjoy these audiobooks by Paul Levinson as performed by Mark Shanahan which combine a good mix of SF and crime mystery.