What will health care look like in a year? Five years? Ten years? There’s no debate that advances in science and technology will provide answers to many of mankind’s current medical mysteries. But how will men and women with sometimes questionable ethics and morals use those new tools? Will the monetary rewards for those future doctors outweigh the good reasons for helping their family, friends, and complete strangers through the challenges of addressing the seemingly endless medical issues they will face?
Thomas Heric presents a unique vision of the future that tries to answer these questions in the form of a novel that bridges multiple genres of fiction. There are science fiction, adventure, and thriller threads mixed with one of the darkest hours in our history in the form of the Nazi agenda for a perfect race. At times I was reminded of Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park, a bit of Ira Levin’s Boys from Brazil, and Robert Ludlum’s novels involving Nazi plots into the cold war such as The Holcroft Covenant.
The story of The Healers begins in 2021 with Wesley Anderson’s graduation from medical school. Wesley is a remarkable young man with a brilliant future in medicine and medical research. At his graduation party, he is approached by the Aesculapian Healers – a group of technologically and scientifically advanced doctors offering to cure all your ills but at an unbelievably high price. Torn between joining his father’s medical practice and learning about the cutting edge of medicine, Wesley chooses to join them when he learns of his father’s own health issues.
We tag along with Wesley as he learns more about the Aesculapian’s plans for the future and their dark past. If a group of doctors has the power to heal those with incurable diseases, why couldn’t they simply share that knowledge with the world? Wesley must wrestle with his conscience as he finds himself drawn into a web of secrets and lies. Can he save his family? His friends? The world?
Author Thomas Heric has been a practicing physician for more than 40 years and it’s obvious from the first few pages of the novel that he has a gift for not only using medical jargon correctly but translating it in such a way that the reader knows enough to not get bogged down by it. He’s written for such television series as Medical Story, The Nurses, Chicago Hope, and Picket Fences. At times I felt the jargon took over the pages of this novel, but for the most part it was handled well.
What threw me a bit was the feeling that the story was somewhat, but not completely, predictable. As a journey of self-discovery, Wesley is faced by numerous challenges along the way, testing him physically, mentally, and emotionally as any good hero should be tested. As the tale progressed, I could almost hear Joseph Campbell narrating some of the storytelling methods used in early myths in Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Heric uses many common constructs of the hero’s journey such as the hero gathering like-minded individuals around him to help him in his journey, facing his challenges in much the same way as Hercules from Greek myth, and so on.
And I felt that in places, Heric may have been sharing his own view of what might happen as the Obama Administration continues to work on health care reform in what many are calling a “socialist agenda.” Though I think the term “socialist” doesn’t apply in this case, I have my own concerns about how the medical community will be forced to change to meet government standards of care. It was interesting to read Heric’s interpretation of what might come of these changes in the future.
That said, once I got into the rhythm of the tale, I enjoyed Wesley’s journey as did his best to help his family and friends both old and new to survive such a turbulent time. The science fiction and Nazi elements kept me entertained and I will be curious to see where he takes the series in the future. The Healers is the first book of his series The Aesculapians and left me wanting to learn more about how things will resolve themselves after this story’s climactic ending.
If you like your science fiction to be more “near future” than “far future,” The Healers by Thomas Heric might be right up your alley. The action is fast and provides a great ride. Definitely one of the most interesting medical “what ifs” I’ve read since Michael Crichton passed away in 2008.
This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.
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