"Not Easy Being Green," Susy Gage's Tale of Mutant Viruses and Unscrupulous Medical Research, Now Available from Bitingduck Press

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Driven by ego, or money, or a genuine desire to help the desperate, practitioners all over the world are offering untested and often dangerous cures. "Not Easy Being Green," the second in Susy Gage's lab-lit series from Bitingduck Press, is an in-depth look into sketchy science in a fictional format, which goes on sale in print and electronic format today.

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I was shocked to find out just how real the events of this book could be

Clumsily scribbling in a notebook while wearing two pairs of rubber gloves, scientist and author Susy Gage spent two months shadowing researchers in a Biosafety Level 3 lab--the level below space suits--for her newest novel, Not Easy Being Green. The book was originally intended to explore marginal treatments for incurable diseases. But the more the author observed, the more the book morphed into a story of sloppy lab practices and discarded reagents that put scientists' health, and maybe the public's health, at risk.

Just as the book was going to press, a few events highlighted just how real the events in this book could be. In 2014, a variety of instances of safety breaches occurred at high-level containment labs, with true “hot agents” such as smallpox left out in cardboard boxes. These events led the CDC to close two labs, ban movement of infectious agents, and purge the biosafety board. Even the author admits these events surprised her. "I thought my book was a bit exaggerated," she admits. "I didn't realize how real it was."

The book also retains its original theme with a detailed exploration of viral gene therapy--how it works, how it is possibly used to treat damage of the central nervous system for which there is no cure, and how it can go terribly wrong. One problem is that what works in a dish of cultured cells in a lab may not work in a patient. But another, more insidious problem is that not all of the data in the dishes of cells are ever published. Negative or unpromising results are never published, leading to human testing of "cures" that never should have left the lab. From the insides of the BSL-3 to a "Wellness Clinic" in Mexico, Not Easy Being Green takes the reader through the insides of this sketchy science. This, too, is a real and timely topic, with a recent report of an unapproved stem-cell treatment causing a patient to grow nasal tissue inside her spinal cord.

The author is a physics professor whose first novel, A Slow Cold Death (Bitingduck Press 2012), explored the cutthroat arena of big-ticket physics. The science behind both the books is detailed on the author’s website. Stephen Bown, author of "Scurvy," says of Not Easy Being Green: "An eclectic mystery set amidst the halls of academia. Susy Gage's unusual events and memorable characters provide an interesting milieu to explore moral and scientific dilemmas. Definitely worth a read." Another reviewer points out that the book is one of the few sci-fi series to avoid all of the "female scientist tropes."

The book is available in print to wholesalers from its distributor, SPD Books, as well as from Baker & Taylor and Ingram. Both print and electronic versions are on sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Kobo and Apple versions will be available within the next few days, and a package containing all of the electronic formats (mobi, epub, and pdf) may be purchased directly from the publisher's webstore.

Bitingduck Press is an independent publisher that brings the quirky, ego-driven, and sometimes corrupt world of science to its readers. Publishing 6-8 titles per year, the press is currently accepting manuscripts for its 2015 Spring and Fall catalogs in a wide range of genres. The theme for Spring 2015 is “Hard Science Fiction,” and will feature a time-travel romance (Bonnie Rozanski's "The Mindtraveler") and a young adult sci-fi adventure by Bill Bunn, "Kill Shot," along with several non-fiction titles.

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Jay Nadeau
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