Friday, January 14, 2011


There has been quite some disparity in authors’ reactions to e-books. Some have stubbornly resisted the movement away from traditional paper-and-ink, while some have embraced it. In the latter category is writer J. A. Konrath, who may well be the leading adopter of the new technology, at least in this genre. Origin is the first book by Konrath I have read, and it is available as a $2.99 download at Amazon and elsewhere.

During the construction of the Panama Canal at the beginning of the 20th century, workmen make an incredible find: a sealed sarcophagus with a not-quite-dead figure inside. The inhabitant is a fearsome looking creature, with horns, hooves, and serrated teeth. It is more comatose than dead, and in appearance seems to be…Satan. President Teddy Roosevelt orders the box and its contents taken to a secret facility in New Mexico for study.

Back in the present day, linguist Andrew Dennison is hurriedly brought into Project Samhain, the group studying the beast. It seems after all those years, it has finally awoken, and they need someone who can communicate with it. In New Mexico, Dennison meets with the rest of the team, all carefully chosen for personal flaws which would lead them to be accepting of isolation. This is a fatal error, as the devil is now awake, and Satan is a master at exploiting flaws. Before it’s finished, all the project members will wish he’d stayed asleep.

In a “bonus features” section of the e-book, Konrath mentions the difficulty he had in marketing the book, and it’s not hard to see why. The book is a bit of a techno-thriller, something of a horror story, and also a comedy. Potential publishers looked at it and couldn’t figure out how to market it. Readers don’t have as much problem, however, in making what they read fit into a narrow slot, and the cross-genre appeal should be in the book’s favor.

I highly recommend this book. It is slam-bang action, and I was surprised at just how funny it is. (Konrath supposedly toned down the humor in a re-write, but it still has moments of great hilarity.) Immediately after finishing Origin, I started downloading other Konrath titles. I think you’d like this too, and if you have an e-reader, you can’t hardly beat the price.


Rabid Fox said...

I am woefully behind in reading the Konrath e-books on my computer. Really need to read one of those sometime soon.

Peter Andrew Leonard said...

Nice review, Joe!
Looking forward to reading this one.

Fran Friel said...

Wonderful review, Joe!