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No disease is more deadly or more enigmatic than the genetically engineered virus known as “Saint Vitus.” Seconds after infecting its victim, the neurotoxin causes massive hemorrhaging, madness, convulsions and inevitably ... death.

Gorgon coverExperiments show the airborne virus is four hundred times more lethal as conventional neurotoxins – with characteristics that make it ideal for covert biological warfare.


Since its unauthorized “birth,” the abomination has been the U.S. Army’s best-kept secret – until its theft. Now in the hands of Osama bin Laden’s most dangerous terrorist known only as “Gorgon,” Saint Vitus becomes a terrible weapon with truly unimaginable potential for destruction.

When Gorgon targets the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, a desperate president orders all military resources directed at the virus’ destruction – even if that means unleashing a thermonuclear hell.

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An interview with Joseph Massucci

Why did you decide to rewrite “CODE: ALPHA” and title it “Gorgon?”

MASSUCCI: “CODE: ALPHA” was my first novel, a project I started during the late-80s. A great deal has changed in the world since then. The original novel went out of print several years ago, and I believed the story is still relevant today – even more so. After writing four more novels, I knew I could make the writing, characters and story much stronger. Reworking the novel became a labor of love. Regarding changing the title, I felt “Gorgon” (the terrorist’s code name) was a more intriguing title than “CODE: ALPHA,” which the original publisher had come up with.

What inspired you to write the original story?

MASSUCCI: Several real-life events brought to my attention the drama of genetic engineering and domestic biological terrorism. The first was an article in Science magazine about how the US Army’s institute for infectious diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md., was looking for scientists to introduce human nervous-system genes into bacteria through recombinant DNA methods — which they eventually received special permission to perform from the National Institutes of Health. It seemed the US military was working on some very serious stuff.

Then along comes a Stanford graduate candidate who proposed splicing toxigenic genes into E. Coli bacteria found in the human intestine. Her adviser dissuaded her from going ahead with the experiment in the event the anomaly ever escaped the lab. Finally, a former researcher at Ft. Detrick made a charge that more than a quart of disease virus was discovered missing from a biological warfare program there. The former lab director said security is so lax at Detrick that large amounts of deadly organisms could be carried out of laboratories in a pocket or briefcase by any employee with clearance to work there.

I put these real-life incidents together and thought, what if a terrorist mastermind stole a weapon-grade virus from Ft. Detrick, something that an innocent Stanford graduate intern working there had inadvertently created? What would be the consequences of that to the nation? How would this situation affect the student caught in the center of an untenable drama?

Youre not a biochemist or gene-splicer. How did you develop the background to write such a technical book as Gorgon?

MASSUCCI: Research. Just about anything you want to know about a topic is available if you know where to look or who to ask. It helps to have an investigative journalism and research background. Of course, what I couldn’t find through research, I made up.

What did your research reveal about genetically engineered viruses — is it actually possible to create an organism as dangerous as your “Saint Vitus”?

MASSUCCI: Anything’s possible. Most of my material comes from today’s headlines. Just when the naysayers say that some form of gene spicing or cloning isn’t possible, along comes a news story that announces yet another breakthrough. As a society, it’s prudent if we keep an open mind and expect and prepare for the impossible.

In GORGON you quote US defense consultants as saying this country is entirely defenseless against biological and chemical terrorism. Do we, in fact, have an ALPHA bio-terrorism response team out there to protect us from crazies who might be plotting such an attack on US soil?

MASSUCCI: Gosh, I hope so.

Does your next novel “The Millennium Project pick up where “Gorgon left off?

MASSUCCI: “The Millennium Project” is not a sequel, per se; it’s a different scenario with the same characters set two years later. “Gorgon’s” Julie Martinelli is unexpectedly and suddenly drafted by a special branch of the US Military to work on a highly classified project. She is sealed away with several of her colleagues deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, the military’s high-tech NORAD bunker.

There she learns that the microprocessors controlling America’s top-secret strategic defense satellite network have been hijacked, rendering the network useless and the nation vulnerable. Julie’s job is to find a solution before an attack. Meanwhile, a mad genius responsible for the outage and his small army of doomsday mercenaries are preparing to commit the crime of the millennium.

Will we see Julie and Marshall in more adventures?

MASSUCCI: Julie and Marshall took a break for my next two novels, “The Sabbath Experiment” and “Extinction.” However, I’m planning another set story in the Gulf of Mexico that involves the hijacking of the world’s largest semi-submersible offshore oil platform to perform a top secret deep water salvage.

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