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Welcome, Chaos

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  277 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
What would happen to the precarious balance of power if scientists could extend life for centuries? If one power bloc had biological protection against radiation & the other did not? Whose thumb would press the button first?
When Lyle Taney took leave from her teaching job to live high in the mountains, researching the ways of eagles, she was just planning to write her
Mass Market Paperback, 297 pages
Published March 1985 by Berkley Publishing Group (first published 1983)
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Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
The story develops an interesting premise - that a cure is discovered which immunizes individuals from the effects of aging and from the effects of radiation. However too much of the book is spent on the internal thoughts and reactions of the main character, and although there was suspense I was dissatisfied with the ending. I have enjoyed Wilhelm's other books, but not so much this one.
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of Kate Wilhelm's earlier sci-fi (the current-day medical/science version of sci-fi, not Star Trek sci-fi) novels, before she got into mystery/sci-fi blends. It was an intriguing plot concept 20 years ago - a serum that can stop the aging process, which cold war factions are fighting over - now used to death in both novels and movies.

KW's novels involve a lot of natural landscape description and psychological exploration. She's an incredibly descriptive and thoughtful writer, leadin
(re-reading novels after a decade+ first read, ones you really enjoyed, are like returning to an old friend, and also to a time/place in the past...always a pleasure and one of the many reasons I physically keep the books I read).

Wilhelm's mid-80s novel is difficult to 'review' without spoilers. I'll say this: the first half and last quarter of the novel are well-defined in plot, but the 3rd quartile falters. Technically, i.e. the 'SF' part of the novel, is light on the science, and would not h
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-crime
Welcome Chaos is a thought provoking novel that prompts the reader to examine the way in which the world as we know it could become something else entirely in the blink of an eye. And there are no easy answers to the questions it proposes.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
To be reviewed for @SFRuminations big Wilhelm blog bash in April. A living vintage author deserving of such attention.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lyle Taney, a 30-something historian, has her life changed forever when she's drawn into events by an ex-CIA spy, who has learned of a conspiracy among scientists to keep a fantastic discovery out of the hands of governments and corporations. Part science-fiction, part espionage thriller, and part paean to the liberal arts, this is a marvelous tale! It was written at the start of the Reagan years, and takes place just a couple years later. Having grown up during the Cold War, and witnessed its e ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a story here, really there is. There's the serum and the relationships and the development... but that's not the backbone of this book. This book is deep.
Yes, there's Lyle and Carmen and Sol, there's the rest of the group later on... but the real depth of this book is in the emotions, the reasoning, how it resonates with you. THAT is what I really liked about this book. It was like the author had a though, an abstract idea, but no way to really tell you this idea, so she created a story
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
When I was sixteen and travelling cross country, I stopped into a rummage shop and came away with this book. It's been one of the most random finds I've ever read.

It's really a very interesting book with a plot that is more philosophical than scifi. I found the characterization to be particuarly vivid, and certain passages have stuck with me for years.

I don't quite agree with the way it ended. Things are wrapped up too tidily but are simultaneously too ill planned. Even as a teen, I remember c
Tony Atkins
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Welcome, Chaos" tracks the accidental development of an indefinite life-prolonging treatment during the Second World War, and its threatened exposure to the public in the midst of the cold war. The immortals Wilhelm depicts are also resistant to disease and radiation, and so become a kind of nuclear deterrent that could prompt each side to start a war before the other can protect their people.

I recently wrote a piece comparing "Welcome, Chaos" to two other books that deal with immortality.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
*initial thoughts*
I really enjoyed my previous Kate Wilhelm book so I was disappointed when I felt solidly meh about this one. It's extremely slow-moving. It took hours of the audiobook before the central plot was revealed. I'd probably have given up, in fact, if it wasn't in audiobook format. Even after the central plot is revealed it's just a bit slow and dull, and I felt that the book ended right when things were about to get interesting. In a way you could call it a pre-apocalyptic book, and
Angelica Gaerlan
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
I like Wilhelm, I do. This story was like if she took her cool, intriguing theme on the questionable ethics behind scientific advancements in society (I left that phrasing as generally as I could to capture the various developments her novels touch - cloning, space travel, big pharma mass drug testing, etc.) and slapped over it some generic Twilight Series bullshit, the Watchmen movie and Law and Order. I get that those things happened way after this book, so I'll add that it stayed true to loud ...more
Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is one of those books that has stayed with me for the approximate thirty years since I read it. When I see Wilhelm's name on a book cover in a second hand store, I get all excited. As a result, I have about seven or eight of her books on my TBR shelf. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get to them.

Anyway, this is a good one. Not quite what I expected, but I seem to remember that was the same with Sweet Birds. Still a very thought provoking r
Doreen Dalesandro
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Genre: sci-fi
I listened to this book.

Welcome, Chaos explores the social and political ramifications of broad-spectrum immunity and anti-aging induced by a man-made serum. The story hit home, perhaps because I grew up when the world was poised on the edge of nuclear destruction.

Johanna Ward does a great job narrating.
What an interesting story. It makes you really wonder what is going on out there in our world, especially with other countries. I found Lyle to be interesting in many ways. Her help with the company and in her relationships. I would love to see eagles nesting- it sounds beautiful, if you have the patience to weather the storm. :-)
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-series
I understand how many readers regard this as their favorite Kate Wilhelm novel. Lyle Taney is not young and beautiful. She is talented and more than capable. She is asked to leave her teaching job, move to the Oregon coast and, oh, yeah, spy on her neighbors. Determined to follow her own path, she's lead on an adventure she's not prepared for. A satisfying read.
Pamela Davis
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book! About every five years or so I end up having to buy it again because friends forget to return it. It's always hard to find. I thought this book looked at the idea of immortality in a new way. I liked the description of the northwest part of the U.S., made me feel I was right there. Highly recommend this book.
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a nice story of the near future, firmly rooted in the Cold War period in which it was written.

A group of scientists have discovered a treatment for practical immortality (anti-aging, rapid healing and disease immunity) that also has some undesirable side effects. They are trying to suppress the knowledge out of fear of its effects on society. Science fiction, as espionage thriller.
Apr 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Thought this was a pretty good book. I think that it would make a good book club read as there were quite a few philosophical issues raised. I have enjoyed reading other Kate Wilhelm books and this was a different plot concept from my previous reads.
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
What would you do if given the chance to be free from all illnesses but there was a 50/50 chance it would kill you? What if you were part of a group that had this "thing"; what would you do and/or be willing to do?
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
An interesting concept, if a little far-fetched. It's a bit of a mystery/spy thriller in the near future, with international intrigue centered around a serum accidentally discovered during the Third Reich--and I'm not giving away any more.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: otherwhere
Very little science fiction; mostly this is an 80's anti-war thriller with too much repetition, very casual sexuality and intellectuals making convoluted plans with too many built-in one-point failure possibilities.
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: babble-added
fascinating story, a tv show is coming out/is already out that sounds like it lifted this book's plot, a "Wolverine" vaccine that will either cure you or kill you and nations in a race to obtain it from its creators
Elly Wendy
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I like Wilhelm, but liked some of her other books more.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite, part of this story is very outdated and other parts trite. It doesn't hit the mark like some of her other works. A disappointment after reading Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
thought-provoking, and not as dated as one might think from 1985.
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
not sure whether I liked it
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilhelm's view of the world is too real for comfort. I am reminded of the saying that if "it" can be imagined, "it" can happen. Still 50% probability is terrible odds for survival.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: genre-sci-fi, audio
really thought provoking book, although it starts out a little slow.
Erik Graff
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wilhelm fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
As ever, Wilhelm has produced a better-than, more-serious-than usual near-future science fiction novel.
Julian Pecenco
May 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Interesting but somewhat dated (It took me a while to realize it was written almost thirty years ago as the publication date on the audio version was quite recent.) Lame ending.
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Kate Wilhelm’s first short story, “The Pint-Sized Genie” was published in Fantastic Stories in 1956. Her first novel, MORE BITTER THAN DEATH, a mystery, was published in 1963. Over the span of her career, her writing has crossed over the genres of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and magical realism, psychological suspense, mimetic, comic, and family sagas, a multimedia stage producti ...more
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