Fragment: A Novel
by Warren Fahy
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Delacorte Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553807530
Date: 16 June 2009 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Read Fragment, by Warren Fahy, and feel the lure of an exotic place with exotic plants and animals. Only this place is on Earth!! A research ship in the South Pacific accidentally finds this island and the discovery begins....
Fragment, by Warren Fahy, is already well known in the literature world primarily to science fiction readers. I am new to the SF genre (I'm primarily a mystery reader), and my insights will provide an interesting perspective for new readers and for those who have already read the book.
The novel starts with a TV reality program showcasing a group of scientists aboard a research ship in the South Pacific. One of the reality scientists and the story's heroine, Nell Duckworth, is a botanist who is a little disappointed that the show is more concerned with the drama of at-sea love affairs than with the science it purportedly was going to show. Nell gets her break when a giant storm blows the ship off course, and they wind up sailing near a little-known island called Henders Island. The only known report of landing on the island is by a British sea captain in the 1700s, and there are only a few reports of anyone even sighting the island. The TV show's producer does not believe the island is interesting enough for a stop, but fortunately for Nell, the ship picks up a distress signal from the island and the ship launches a research team. This is where the real story begins. Once the team goes ashore, they find plant and animal life that exists nowhere else on Earth.
Very quickly, the United States sets up a research team to investigate the wildlife on the island. They use a mobile, modular laboratory that NASA developed to be airlifted into a hazardous disease zone. It has full analysis facilities and life support systems. The team quickly finds that the life on the island is deadly to any Earth species it encounters. Then the analysis and questioning phases of the novel begin. The team discusses the anatomy and interaction of the plants and animals in great detail. Multiple scientists are called in, the government evaluates weapons applications, and an entire naval task force surrounds the island for safety and to prevent any animals from accidentally escaping. The research team gradually discovers that the wildlife on the island has a weakness. Using this knowledge, the team can travel on the island outside the mobile laboratory and are able to do field evaluations. After they get on the island they find things, but that would reveal the end of the novel, and I cannot do that here or I will spoil the story. The end is fabulous.
My commentary on the novel begins with the irony of the term "alien". All these creatures on the island are alien to Earth, meaning they evolved separately from the rest of the world and have developed their own ecosystem. In the traditional sense of the word alien, meaning from an extraterrestrial source, the life on this island is not alien. I find the irony interesting.
My other comment, which might disturb some hard-core SF fans, is that I feel the middle section of the novel was too in-depth. The author goes into extreme detail of the limbs, joints, nervous systems, etc. of the animals. I know some readers completely enjoy the "Nuts and Bolts" of alien creatures (there is my favorite irony again), and those readers will be engrossed. I thoroughly enjoyed the action of finding the island, and the end of the novel where the researchers and the government decide the fate of the island, but I found the details in the middle a little long.
I recommend the Fragment