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Marcel Sahade
The DrugTech Trilogy
Book 1: Spellbound - The Workings of DrugTech A clandestine pharmaceutical company will stop at nothing in its quest for power and profit. When Benjamin Jones, an average university science student with girl-problems, is secretly given access to the breathtaking breakthroughs of DrugTech by his parents, his life will never be the same. Meanwhile, William Hunter Barrister-at-Law has never lost a case in his 15 years of practice. But things are not as they seem as his work-experience student Jennifer is soon to find out. And DrugTech's involvement forever lurks in the shadows. Book 2: DrugTech - The Deep State Deepens DrugTech's influence grows in the political, judicial and administrative spheres. Its breakthroughs in science lead to the possession of the, "Finger of God". But three university students with the help of the Dominican Order of Priests plot its ultimate downfall. Book 3: DrugTech - The Final Dose The mystical powers of the Dominican Order of Priests, and a Dominican Nun, Sister Jennifer, help three university students bring DrugTech to its knees, and save the life of an innocent person from a wrongful murder conviction. Flashbacks and analogies to the great Battle of Lepanto culminate in the DrugTech Empire crashing down, as the Managing Director of DrugTech is replaced, and its former Managing Director brought to justice.
Sahade’s surprising, epic-length thriller centers on the downfall of a pharmaceutical company that, “interested in profits, not cures,” suppresses a cure for cancer, among other nefarious acts. Readers may glean some of that from the back cover, but the novel, presented in three parts, doesn’t reveal its arc for many pages—or even, really, that it’s a novel at all. The DrugTech Trilogy starts as a series of short, arresting stories with fantastical, unsettling premises, running just a few pages each, only revealing obvious connections to each other after a dozen or so have passed. Here’s a pirate captain plotting to murder his first mate once they gather a secret treasure; here’s a medium at her crystal ball, questioned by police for her role in relieving a sucker of a fortune, saying, “Sergeant Gillcrist back at the station suspects you and is going to open that locker in the next 25 minutes.”

And, in the thick of these mysterious flash fictions, here’s DrugTech, and several stories about scientists engineering brain transplants, discovering proof that the soul exists, possibly manipulating time and space with “Trans Warp Inducer”—and hinting that maybe not everyone’s actually human. The stories touch on con artists, barristers, felons, astronauts, nuns, and more. The strongest reveal their genre and premise at a climactic point, pulling the rug from under the reader and some of the characters, who often discover their existence to be stranger than they had expected.

By the third part, characters have begun to recur, the stories now more like chapters in a novel, revealing a broader narrative about DrugTech, Trans Warp Inducers, and—this makes sense in context—the naval fleet of the Ottoman Empire. The structure might prove more engaging if the characters were more memorable or vividly rendered; they don’t always ring a bell when readers re-encounter them hundreds of pages later. Still, while unwieldy, The DrugTech Trilogy offers a high level of invention and disquieting scenarios.

Takeaway: A twisty, SF-touched pharma thriller told in eclectic short stories with unsettling and surprising premises.

Great for fans of: The Future Is Short: Science Fiction In A Flash, Lauren Beukes.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B-