While going to observe a calving of one of his prize longhorns, Jesse meets his new veterinarian, come to give him news. On the way to the calving, they pass men in hazmat suits traipsing around in his wife’s neighbor alfalfa fields. The vet enquires, but Jesse doesn’t know much about his wife’s business.
Jesse and the doc reach the calving pens in time to witness the birth of a monstrous amalgam of calf and scorpion. Horrified, Jesse shoots the deformed calf, and the vet takes the body away to study. How did the calf, born of proven bloodlines, end up in such a state? Do the suited workers have anything to do with what happened? And what else might fall prey?
In Longhorn, Maree has woven a chilling warning of the phantasmal dangers of playing God and mixing genes, when we have little idea of the extent the result will encompass. At present, creatures mutated to this extent are still relegated to our stories, but how much longer will that be the case? Use of chemicals on foodstuffs given to animals we humans in turn then eat, or that we ourselves eat, has resulted in deformity.
This was an engrossing read, over too soon. I would happily read a long version, with an expanded timeline. The genetics aspects made me think of Shadowfires, Jurassic Park, and Relic, though the latter is caused by a natural substance instead of being wrought by man’s hand. The crazed animals reminded me of Cujo, and that most terrifying of conflicts- man vs implacable nature, that can trample right over you if you aren’t careful enough. Too late do many think of the consequences of meddling in things we know nothing about, not really.
???? Perfect for fans of Koontz’s Shadowfires, King’s Cujo, and Crichton’s Jurassic Park, as well as those who enjoy the works of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.