Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Martian Panahon Virus ~ 2009 SF novel by Kevin F. Owens

The controversy over whether anti-science Gov. Rick Perry had the constitutional authority to sign a pro-science executive order implementing a mandatory human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program for girls in Texas reminds me of an interesting self-published science fiction novel that I discovered just a few weeks ago: Martian Panahon Virus (AuthorHouse 2009), by Kevin F. Owens. The plot revolves around a young Filipino prospector who escapes from Mars infected with a Paleolithic virus. The promotional piece:

Martian prospectors Sonia Androff and Fisk Banzer are convinced that they are too threatened to use local mining teams to establish a claim on a suspected rich gold discovery. They hire a primitive support crew from the Philippines to help dig out gold in a remote Martian canyon. During an on site cave exploration, Apollo Panahon, a teenage miner with that team, discovers a Paleolithic ice puddle with tiny fish embedded in the ice. When he thaws and tastes the fish, a virus in the fish infects Apollo with a disease that has a side effect that duplicates Nostradamus' ability to communicate through time.

Apollo's sense of events yet to come enables him to warn Sonia that they must flee to survive. The two barely escape the claim-jump murders of their companions. However, their freedom is precarious. In desperate need of medical attention, both survivors are infected, both are getting worse, and both slip into comas while on the run. Media journalist Terra Newton, at a conference on the Moon, gets distracted by strange events surrounding the epidemic that has friends from a Filipino barrio in quarantine. She identifies the odd side effect of the virus as a Nostradamus Syndrome, the ability of some of the afflicted to communicate through time.

A former member of the Air Force and Boeing employee, space enthusiast Kevin F. Owens grew up in the state of Washington and developed a fascination with Mars in the late 1950’s. He read about the Martian canals observed by astronomer Percival Lowell, and about the Martian civilizations depicted in the fiction of H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Bradbury. Owens even won first place in 1959 in his school’s science fair with a creative presentation about the Red Planet.

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