By:  Norton Beckerman

Have you ever considered what could possibly be strong enough to destroy human civilization as we know it?  Perhaps nuclear war?  Famine? Disease and pestilence?  The possibilities are many, and not very pleasant to ponder.  When thinking about such a weighty topic it is unlikely that microscopic cells entered your mind.  Indeed, most individuals would probably have visions of a giant mushroom cloud in their head instead.  Be that as it may, cells are the building block of all living things and there are trillions of them which exist within every human body.  However, what if these smallest living organisms actually had intelligence and decision-making abilities?  What if they were able to control humanity as we know it by transforming into different forms and then mobilizing?  As long as their intentions were good I am assuming all would be fine. Nevertheless, what if there were dissenters in this mobilization of cells?  Those who would like nothing better than to destroy the very forms they have become.  If you are a fan of intelligent Science Fiction which will explore such provocative concepts, then Virus by author Norton Beckerman will provide what you seek!

Essentially, the novel revolves around the quest of a malevolent cell by the name of Virus.  He feels betrayed and shunned by the ruling council of cells who against his wishes sought to dominate the planet in something other than their “cell like” form.  Virus vows revenge!  By gathering a huge group of followers, Virus plans to destroy all life on the planet.  Recognizing this as potentially catastrophic, the council sends their best “Cell Agent” by the name of Traveller to thwart the plan.  The catch is that Traveller needs the help of the measly humans to accomplish this feat.  This is where neuroscientist and microbiologist Barry Proctor comes in.  Traveller will use Barry to enact his plan and stop Virus.  However, Barry is not alone as he has an entire team of his own, which includes the very attractive Chair of the University biology department by the name of Rachel Cummings.  Can Traveller maneuver this group to truly stop the evil plans of Virus and his followers?  Or are Barry and the surface beings of the planet doomed to face total annihilation?

I found the plot of this novel to be very interesting and quite unlike anything I have read.  There is an excellent combination of factual information which is coupled with. imaginative events.  The author obviously knows his subject matter!  It is also a story which you have to read very carefully or you risk getting lost in the details.  A few times I had to go back and re-read passages or entire chapters to properly ascertain the story events.  While that may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, I found it to be challenging as opposed to distracting.  There can be little doubt that when you get into the flow of this book, the plot is both exciting and engaging.  The good versus evil theme is clearly prevalent and well supported with many unique story details.

As for the characters, the two main protagonists were developed quite well.  We were able to gain access to their innermost thoughts and feelings while watching them grow throughout the novel.  Their love relationship with each other was also touching and became increasingly convincing as we were more accustomed to the characters.  Indeed, when that had fully taken place, the two seemed as if they were actually made for one another.  That is no easy feat considering the obvious age difference which exists.

Overall, I found this to be a very engaging and entirely unique story.  There was not always the natural flow that I am accustomed to when reading novels, but that is due in large part too the subject matter.  Due to this factor, and some scenes of a sexual nature, I would recommend this novel to adult science fiction readers.

4 out of 5 Unique Stars for this one!  ****

About the Author:

I write, teach and speak about regaining and maintaining a healthy, effectively functioning brain.  I’m the author of a non-fiction book entitled “A Users Guide to a Healthy Brain.”  I’ve been a speaker on TEDx and until recently I was the Brain Health Couch on local TV.

I’ve been an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction all my life, and that’s what led to VIRUS. I’m constantly occupied reading or writing about brain science. I wanted to write a story that would incorporate my training in science and my love for fiction. I joined a writer’s group in 2011. That was a major turning point in my writing career. It was their listening, reading and critiquing my writing that honed my skills as a writer of fiction. As a reader I knew my book had to have an unexpected and rewarding ending. After six years, seven manuscripts, several beta readers and a patient editor “VIRUS., a science fiction thriller” was born.

Norton S. Beckerman Interview

What prompted you to write a novel?

I didn’t start out to write a novel. It just happened to work out that way. I have an informational website regarding brain function. “VIRUS” started out as a serial story that I intended to put up on my website to attract visitors.

I’m a romantic and storyteller by nature. I thought writing “VIRUS” for my website would be a hoot for me and entertaining to my visitors. My writer’s group liked my story.  They also pointed out that writing fiction is not like writing science.  Eventually, they suggested turning my work into a novel. Along the way I was honing my abilities as a fiction writer and loving it.


What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Creating the story. My characters come alive and I chronicled their activities. They exist in a different reality.  I write when they invite me in. Telling their story is exciting, fulfilling and provides a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I want the world to read their story.


What about the science? Is that a put-off?

The funny part of my writing “VIRUS …” is that in the final manuscript most of the science that I was interested in has been edited out.  My editor felt it was a distraction and I had a few beta readers that felt the same way so out it went.  “VIRUS …” is an easy, enjoyable read with a rewarding ending.


What do your fans mean to you?

I just published my first novel, so I don’t have fans. Having said that I don’t consider my reader’s fans even if they really enjoy my stories. My readers are my audience and my critics.  I’m a storyteller.  Story’s should be engrossing, entertaining and rewarding.  If I’ve done my job my readers will let me know.  They’ll want more of my stories.  If I haven’t done my job my readers will let me know that too.


Do you plan to continue writing? 

Yes, I love writing fiction.  I love story telling.  I’ve started writing a sequel to VIRUS.  I’ve written a short story entitled “Dad!”.