Friday, November 02, 2018

Civil Blood: The Vampire Rights Case that Changed a Nation – review

Author: Chris Hepler

First Published: 2018

Contains spoilers


In a future America still recognizable as our own, the outbreak of a vampire virus becomes front-page news. An infected trial lawyer named Morgan Lorenz sues the corporation that tried to conceal the existence of the virus, claiming medical negligence on a massive scale.

Facing potential bankruptcy, the Benjamin Rush Health Initiative files a unique motion. They say Lorenz cannot sue, because he's no longer human. For him, and all vampires like him, the Constitution simply doesn't apply.

Infinity DeStard and her "Forced Protection" team are assigned to kill Lorenz before the case reaches the Supreme Court. It's hard to fake enthusiasm ever since her own infection, but she has no choice. If she breathes a word about her condition, her team will execute her.
In the face of injustice, how long can she lie to them... and herself?

The review: Set in the near future this is the sci-fi vampire in full flow. It is a world where science has uncovered some of the secrets of Qi, life energy, and has developed technology that allows it to be used and manipulated – introducing a kind of magic into the world.

Four years earlier than our narrative, a researcher at BRHI labs had been bombarding a virus with qi energy when there was an accident and the qi positive virus, which was a bat borne rabies, infected her. The virus modified the host, causing increased strength, rapid healing, heightened senses (and a sensitivity to light) and an addiction. It is not exactly the blood that the infected person craves but human qi as released from the blood – and that can only be extracted at the point of injury (so feeding must occur against a wound and not from collected blood). The virus can be spread through saliva and blood on an open wound.

Hepler explores this world through the viewpoints of several characters but primarily through Infinity, a vampire hunter for BRHI (known as F-prots – or forced protection). These are black ops agents who are trying to contain the outbreak before it becomes public. Infinity, at the start of the novel, has been infected herself. The other main character is Ranath – another F-prot but this time a qi operative. However we do jump through other characters – some of the voices of the little used characters can be a little similar but the prime two have strong, individual voices that work well.

When the virus, EBL-4, becomes public, along with the existence of those with VIHPS (Virally Induced Hematophagic Predation Syndrome), it is through the actions of Lorenz – an infected lawyer who looks to sue and this pushes the novel into an interesting legal direction, which nicely juxtaposes against the action sequences.

The novel keeps a good pace, shifting gears upwards as needed but never losing the overall considered momentum, it presents an unusual virus-based vampire type that is neatly realised and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 8 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

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