The progression of virus scares have been a perception of thrillers for years. The idea comes from the aspect of perspective. How do we view the mortality of the restructuring of cells that threaten our very lives when we ourselves can’t see the process per se. “Cold Storage” [David Koepp/Ecco/320pgs] is an interesting approach to the genre because even though it has a wider scope potential, it reads so fast that it almost seems like a short story or part of an anthology. It’s purpose is clear though it feels more like an exercise in storytelling perspective. The story follows a fungus that perhaps fell from the sky or was introspective in a vision of primordial goo. The unique aspect is that its only function and thought with whatever it hosts is too spread its fungus through whatever means necessary…and it is usually destructive. The first instance is in a village that is obliterated. It is a investigated by an off grid team in Trini and Roberto who seemed to have been cleaning up messes of a viral and biologic nature for years. Their interaction has a “Castle” vibe to it which really resounds as they bring their skills to a third world town that has been decimated. The story is not one of overarching details but an interesting basic human interaction which underlies what is actually going on. This progresses to its wrap up before jumping a ton of years to the restarting in a way of said threat. However, it is approached with much less interesting main characters. As soon as Roberto and Trini re-enter, the pace picks up. The story uses a very compacted and geographically focused point of storytelling in going from a wide world view to the inside of a storage company which is built over another secret. What sets it apart is almost showing internally how the fungus is thinking by taking over a cockroach, a rat, a deer, a man. The body horror structure of it brings to mind something like “The Thing” but places it in a much more accessible point of impact…a self storage facility in the middle of Kansas. The eventual resolution is fairly uncomplicated but specific almost as if the writer was testing the audience to see if they were listening. Koepp, who has written many screenplays and adapted “Jurassic Park”, is so focused on the essential mechanics of the story he is telling that that is really all there is yet it is entertaining nonetheless.
By Tim Wassberg