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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Contagious by Scott Sigler.
Lines, they just keep blurring. Between science and fiction, between horror and thriller, between what they used to call vanity publishing and niche marketing and finding a way, some way, to get your book in front of people. Another thing that’s changing is saying ‘getting your book on the shelf.’ That was just shorthand for being published. But like every other business these days publishers are crying the blues and wringing their hands. No one wants to take a chance on an unknown author, there’s no money to promote a book unless they know for sure it’s going to be so popular it doesn’t need to be promoted, barbarians in the form of Kindle and podcasting are already inside the gate, oh and of course no one reads anymore. You know what? When I hear that I always tag on the end, ‘not as many people are buying books from traditional sources and they haven’t figured out how to cash in on the new ones.’
Clever writers are figuring out how to make a living, and it’s really no surprise that the most tech savvy writers are the first out of the gate to use the things they know the best to find their audience.
One of the pioneers of new publishing is Scott Sigler. He offered his first novel as a free download. The whole thing. Free. (You can almost hear publishers gasping and clutching their pearls.) Did it make people not want to buy the book? Quite the opposite. It earned him legions of fans in those early stages, they were mainly young, male, not afraid of technology and intensely loyal. So when the traditional publishers overcame their vapors and saw his built-in audience, they broke out the checkbook.
So, Contagious. Its fast really fast-paced. Sigler cites early Stephen King as an influence, and you can feel that in what seems to be his signature anyone can die at any moment, so be careful of falling in love with these characters. In fact, this book reminded me a bit of The Tommyknockers, minus the suck. Despite the slam-banginess of the whole thing, he managed to create a fairly well developed cast, particularly his team of scientists dispatched to figure out what’s going on out in the middle of rural America where people seem to be going nuts and killing each other with more enthusiasm than usual. And Sigler gets major bonus points from me for his villain, an adorable little girl. There’s a whole Ransom of Red Chief subplot between the cute lil’ monster and her alleged co-opter, the big alien invader which was my favorite part of the story, not that I don’t enjoy an occasional autopsy gone so very, very wrong. Oh yeah, this book fairly squishes with leaking bodies.
Contagious is the sequel to Infected, but not only did I not read that last one, I didn’t even know Contagious wasn’t a stand-alone, so don’t let that stop you. And since a few folks survive, Scott is putting the wraps on the third even as we speak.