Since I’m currently hard at work on the transformation of my first novel to a podcast and second print edition, I thought it might be nice to shine a spotlight on some podcast novels that have made it to print. I recently finished reading Scott Sigler‘s Infected, a pretty hardcore sci-fi/horror book that is not only a damn good story, but proves that the new media model can really move dead tree edition books.
Infected traces several concurrent, connected storylines, including a group of federal agents who are tasked with determining the cause of a strange sickness that’s turning ordinary people into homicidal killers, a cop who has lost his partner to one of these people, and a young man who is horrified to find himself becoming one of the “infected.” Perry Dawsey, a college football star whose post-college days have been less than stellar, finds himself with a series of bizarre blue triangles growing on his body. At first they itch, then they begin to transform, but when the voices start whispering in his head, the real terror begins.
Sigler really crafts a fantastic story. The threat is very different from most other horror novels I’ve read, and although the theory presented behind the triangles here is certainly plausible and would be satisfying, there’s enough ambiguity to leave plenty of room for later development. The book also includes blood and gore by the bucketful — this is one of the bloodiest books I’ve ever read. If you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, you may want to stay away.
The characters are rounded enough, although there’s definitely an opportunity to delve deeper into most of them in the future. This isn’t really a character piece, though, it’s about a very strong plot. If there’s any weakness in the book, it’s that it’s a little too obviously just the tip of the iceberg for a longer series. Like I mentioned back when I discussed Twilight, I really do think the first book or film in a series should be able to stand on its own as a singular story — sure, set up things for future installments, but close it off enough that the reader can put it down and feel complete. That isn’t the case here. In fact, the end is nearly a cliffhanger.
The good news is, you don’t need to wait for the second installment if you enjoyed the first, as I did. The sequel, Contagion, is already in bookstores. And even more interesting, from a New Media standpoint, is the fact that Siegler is currently serializing Contagion as a podcast novel, just as he did with Infected beforehand, over at ScottSigler.com. So if you’re interested, but not sure if it’s a book you want to read just yet, here’s your chance. Subscribe to the podcast, give it a listen, and if you like it, buy it! It’s how the New Media works, friends, and in Siegler‘s case, it’s working very well. I’ll be picking up Contagion before too long.