Review: “Silurid,” Gerry Griffiths

Pros: Mild beginning
Cons: Blah ending
Rating: 2 out of 5

It’s been a long day already, so I’ll quote from the Amazon text instead of rolling my own. Silurid, by Gerry Griffiths: “In this exciting horror novel, Vernon Murdock, a young idealistic marine biologist, makes an incredible breakthrough with high hopes of ending world famine for the rest of eternity when he breeds a hybrid species guaranteed to put substantially more food on the dinner table.” You can predict several things from there with virtual certainty. The experiment will go wrong. People will die. Harder to predict was the fact that the book isn’t about Vernon and isn’t really about mad science, either. We start out as the giant fish enter play, and follow Vernon’s sister Jess as she tries to deal with them.

 

It’s important to note that Vernon’s experiments went wrong when they produced super-massive fish: he’d actually be feeding fewer people with them (the amount of protein they’d need to grow would be greater than the amount of protein they’d provide). I’m not quite sure how he ended up with armor scales and some very nasty teeth, too. You’d think he’d realized he’d gone in the wrong direction by size alone long before he actually created these two massive, scary fish, and thus would have turned back and done something else.

Anyway, the entire first part of the book is kinda meh, introducing us to characters who are bland, stupid, or completely stereotypical. Jess, the main character, is of course loved by everyone. For a while I tried to track the stereotypes for this review, but I lost count.

The fish brought me to laughter as they scuffled around on land using giant fins, knocking over trees to chase and eat people. I don’t think it was meant to be as silly as it was, but I suppose I can hope it was intentional.

The time frame for the story keeps getting confused. Things like types of phones or computer data collection devices that are available seem to contradict each other. The narrative is also a bit choppy and confused, with multiple instances of one word substituted for something that definitely didn’t mean the same thing.

Part two of the book was… uh, slightly better? Slightly better characterization. Slightly better dialogue. On the other hand, the premise is ridiculous (I’ll leave it out, since it would give away the ending in part one). I’m also disappointed that this book is ostensibly about mad science, but there’s really no mad science done in the course of the book. It’s all pre-book.

My hope is that this book’s origin came when its author said, “hey, what’s the most ridiculous creature a mad scientist could muck with that people would still have to run away from?” But since this doesn’t appear to be listed in any kind of humor or satire listing at Amazon, I have to assume not.

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