6th Extinction Thrilling, Thought-Provoking, and Frightening

The 6th Extinction by James Rollins

James Rollins scares me.

Well, not the author but the thriller plots he comes up with.

Rollins isn't satisfied with the run-of-the-mill plots. You know, terrorists planning to set off a nuclear bomb in New York City. A massive earthquake drops the entire U.S. western seaboard into the ocean. A criminal mastermind plans to steal all the gold from Fort Knox and bankrupt the United States. No, Rollins' plots have to be truly apocalyptic, threatening the end of all life on earth. The problem is he backs up all his plots with so much science you can't help but wonder, "Could this really happen?" That's what scares me. That's what keeps me up at night.

In his latest Sigma Force novel, The 6th Extinction, Rollins takes on a true world crisis -- the pending mass extinction of thousands of species due, mostly, to man's stupidity and greed. This holocaust is believed to be the sixth such extinction event to have taken place on this planet. In Rollins' book, sabotage at a secret U.S. government laboratory in California releases an indestructible microbe that kills everything it comes into contact with. In Antarctica, British mercenaries cry havoc and try to let loose the deadly denizens of a shadow biosphere buried beneath the show and ice. Meanwhile, in hopes of creating a new Garden of Eden, a brilliant but deranged scientist in South America plans to release his menagerie of genetically-modified animals on the world as well as a microbe that will return all humans to their simple primitive ancestors.

As over the top as this may sound, it is all based on current ongoing research. Just during the time I was reading this book, I also came across news accounts of scientists manipulating the genes of chicken embryos so the birds' beaks will devolve back into the type of snouts their dinosaur ancestors had. Other scientists are trying to recover DNA from an Ice Age-frozen wooly mammoth to recreate the elephant's long-extinct distant relative.

The 6th Extinction is obviously a cautionary tale about how mankind has failed to be a good steward for this planet. It is also a warning to us of the potential horrors that could come from scientists playing God. In Rollin's fiction, Sigma Force was there to save the world. But in real life, who will save us?

The 6th Extinction is an exciting and thought-provoking read. Scary, too.