Another Rabid Puppy recommendation. This story was published in Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War Vol. X

Chinese business manager Zhang Zedong is concerned that production in his African mining operation has fallen again this quarter, and that General Xu will think this is because of excessive greed on the part of management. Zhang blames the problem on the local crime rate, and he comes up with a plan to reduce the problem. Scott Berens of the CDC tracks an outbreak of a new virus in Zambia, and identifies it as an anomaly because of the pattern. He alerts co-worker Philip Thompson to check it out, and Thompson thinks the Chinese may have weaponized a polio vaccine. After notifying the military about this, Thompson infers the US has also weaponized viruses. At home, he is approached by a Chinese agent who has a deal to offer.

This is an interesting story line, and this should be a fully developed story, but the action doesn’t develop the way I expect it to. The characters are flat. The straight-forward narrative means there’s no rising action, no feel of conflict, no drama and no climax. On the positive side, it has high diversity, as it concerns Chinese business investment in Africa and features Chinese characters.

Two stars.