Below is an advance copy of Diane Donovan’s excellent review of Dominant Species. It will appear in the February edition of the Midwest Book Review. 

In Dominant Species, love and death run too closely to high technology and danger for the likes of genetically modified mercenary Dave Brank and his lover Emily Lennox. Having survived a terrible confrontation, they can’t begin to relax and heal before the next challenge—North Korea’s confiscation of genetically engineered dinosaurs from a secret lab. Their intelligence is growing by leaps and bounds, threatening mankind with a singularity that is far from the usual computer-driven AI scenario.

Horror, sci-fi, and high-tech components marry well in the story that features not just the tense, high-octane action of a thriller, but the ethical and moral dilemmas humans face as the creators of something they no longer can predict or control.

William Burke’s inclusion of action and quandaries based on this consideration of the role of the creator in destroying intelligent creatures makes Dominant Species a standout. The story captures not just the levels of human concerns and individual pursuits of special interests, but the perspectives of the creatures themselves as they experience a sea change, moving from primitive response to calculated reasoning: “Vulcan let out a hiss, barring them from attacking. Staring down at the cluster of humans his primitive instincts gave way to more evolved, abstract thought patterns. He formed a plan.”

The contrast between human and animal perspectives allows for an intriguing mix of elements between the typical thriller format of international struggles and the sci-fi challenge of a genetic engineering experiment that proves more successful and deadly than its creators ever could have imagined.

Burke weaves a cat-and-mouse game of survival into political and thriller components to keep readers engaged on many different levels. The contrast between horror, light injections of humor, and overlay of social and political inspection results in a story that operates nicely as a dance between sci-fi possibilities and human follies.

The result is a multifaceted, thoroughly absorbing action read that moves through a futuristic dilemma with the precision of a thriller, the special interests of a work of international intrigue, and the ethical quandaries of a creation that evolves beyond any predictable progression.

Libraries seeking works that operate as both horror and sci-fi reads will relish the strength and action-packed progress of Dominant Species and its ability to capture and hold attention through satisfyingly unpredictable scenarios and developments. These also will spark bioethical debates in book club circles.