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Bats Out of Hell

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1978.

Professor Brian Newman is researching into a cure for meningitis. Unfortunately, as a by-product, he accidentally creates a lethal mutated version of the disease which is swiftly killing all the bats in his glass test cage. He knows that his experiments have failed and plans to dispose of the bats as soon as all of them have finally succumbed. But, as the cover blurb states, "glass is so easily broken". Yes, the glass breaks and the remaining live but fatally contaminated bats escape to spread their disease around the country. The only possible way to prevent an epidemic is to locate and destroy every single bat; but bats are small, they don't come out during the day and even a country as relatively small as ours has more than enough area to hide them.

This was Guy Smith's first attempt at the disaster novel, to be followed by others like Thirst and Throwback, but here it's combined with the more traditional animals-on-the-rampage type plot that he has become famous for. The result isn't startling, but it's certainly not that bad. He pretty much destroys Birmingham, which can't be a bad thing, and arrives at an impressive death toll of over 10,000; plus most forms of animal life get wiped out as well, completely disrupting the balance of Mother Nature. He also attacks a certain old cathedral school in Lichfield that he actually attended in real life and kills off a couple of pupils - old school friends or enemies perhaps? The book doesn't have a good point to make like Abomination and it doesn't show as much in the way of proper research as the similar Locusts of a year later, but don't worry unduly; it's a worthwhile if easy read anyway. A small aside for die-hard Smith fans: Professor Newman (after the 'N' in Guy N. Smith) reappears briefly in another GNS disaster novel, Throwback.


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