Nancy Kress

The threat of terrorism and biological warfare is all too real when the danger comes from a family’s most cherished pets. Ex-FBI agent Tessa Sanderson, the CDC, Animal Control, scared and angry pet owners, and the elusive patient zero collide in this topical, fast-paced, biological thriller.



by Nancy Kress

ISBN: 9781892391780

Published: 2008

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and eBooks

In this original bio-thriller from the author of Beggars in Spain, the threat of terrorism and biological warfare is all too real when the danger comes from a family’s most cherished pets.

Tessa Sanderson, ex-FBI agent, has moved to a sleepy Maryland town to escape her tragic past. When the town’s beloved dogs begin viciously attacking pet owners and their children, federal CDC agents determine that the dogs are carrying a mutated flu affecting the aggression center of their brains, for which there is no known cure. Tessa offers her unofficial assistance to Animal Control Officer Jess Langstrom, who has been ordered to round up all the dogs and quarantine them. Meanwhile, some of the locals, unconvinced of the threat, are preparing to protect their pets by any means necessary. But Tessa, the widow of an Arab who roused the suspicions of her FBI colleagues, has another secret: Someone is sending her threatening e-mails in Arabic that claim responsibility for the virus, and she resolves to go deep undercover to expose a deadly conspiracy.

“Kress, a witty and engaging writer, creates chilling suspense as twisty as a DNA double helix.”
Publishers Weekly

“Her style is devilishly inventive, her characters are more than cardboard cut-outs, and they wrestle with important issues—medical and ethical—every step of the way.”

“Full of suspense and creepy details…delivers on the potential of its
gripping premise.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“…an appealing mix of horror, thriller, allegory, and satire…biting satire.”

“…a page turner…unusual and refreshing. Highly recommended.”
Monster Librarian

“…a near-future techno-thriller, with a touch of Stephen King. Fine work….”

Dogs is the kind of thriller that continually makes you want to turn the pages faster than you can read them.”
SF Site

“In my opinion, Nancy Kress is one of the best science-fiction authors of today…. Kress has the magical ability of weaving amazing plot, believable science, and intriguing characters into a coherent whole.”

“Kress has a flair for punchy melodrama.”
Washington Post

“…a spine-chilling, suspense-laden story of pets turned unwitting killers.”
Publishers Weekly

Nancy Kress is the best-selling author of twenty science-fiction and fantasy novels, including Beggars in Spain, Probability Space, and Steal Across the Sky. She has also published four short-story collections and three books on the fundamentals of writing. Kress is a four-time Nebula Award winner and the recipient of two Hugos, the Sturgeon, and the Campbell awards. Her fiction has been translated into nearly two dozen languages, including Klingon. She teaches at venues including the Clarion Writers’ Program and as a guest professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Praise for Nancy Kress

“Nancy Kress is one of the best damn storytellers ever.”
—Jack McDevitt

“Her style is devilishly inventive….”

 Praise for After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

“Nebula- and Hugo-winner Kress mixes time travel, global catastrophe, and mysterious aliens in this strong post-apocalyptic tale…. Kress handles the crisscrossing timelines with cool elegance.”
Publishers Weekly

“This isn’t the usual post-environmental apocalypse/alien invasion survival book…. Readers of science fiction and those interested in environmental issues will question the current wisdom about our environment and climate science as well as how much effect humans may—or may not—have on the future.”
School Library Journal

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall is a highly intelligent, sublimely understated glimpse into humankind’s future—it’s comparable in thematic impact to Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, and that is saying something. Simultaneously disheartening and inspiring, this novel’s ultimate power is very much like the megatsunami referenced within its pages—you won’t see it coming, but when it hits you, you will be swept away.”
—Paul Goat Allen, Barnes and Noble

“Nancy Kress is one of the best science-fiction writers working today. Her use of science is tricky and thought-provoking, her command of fiction sharp and full of feeling.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt

“An ecological apocalypse so real that it’s like a three-dimensional object that can be viewed from all sides.”
—Ted Kosmatka, author of The Games and The Ascendant

“Superstar SF and fantasy author Nancy Kress returns with After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, an elegant novella that combines several wildly different science-fiction ideas into a tight package.”

“…three narrative lines eventually converge and complement each other, and Kress handles this with her usual superior craftsmanship.”

“Nancy Kress displays all her usual strengths in After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall: strong plotting, fast-paced action, complex and interesting characters, thought-provoking speculation. But there’s something more here: a beautiful meditation on the fate of the earth, an elegy, a warning—and a glimpse of hope.”
—Lisa Goldstein, author of The Red Magician and The Uncertain Places

“This is Nancy Kress in top form, but, more importantly, this is SF done right.
—Daryl Gregory, author of Unpossible and The Devil’s Alphabet

“A disturbing, lively piece of fiction.”
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Praise for Dancing in Air

“It’s hard to imagine a better writer of science fiction in America today than Nancy Kress—to call Kress a science-fiction writer seems too limiting. She’s one of our best writers.”
Salt Lake Tribune

 “Like Walter Miller’s ‘The Darfsteller,’ [Dancing on Air] follows the future of an art form through ethical quagmires.”
Asimov’s Science Fiction

“Every so often there comes a story which works the old magic that first drew me to the genre as a reader. Dancing on Air is one of those stories.”
—James Patrick Kelly, author of Burn

“No matter how peculiar the future is that Kress imagines, her characters face it with human and humane feeling. She is a writer’s writer.”
—Tony Daniel

Praise for Beggars in Spain

“Chock-full of real characters, complex scientific ideas, and a thought-provoking story. I highly recommend it.”
—Connie Willis

“Provocative…[e]ngrossing…[s]uperbly plotted and thought through…[a]ltogether outstanding.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Superb…an exquisite saga of biological advantages.”
Denver Post

Visit the Nancy Kress website.



The kitchen was too warm, and Dan wanted to open the door to the blessed winter air outside. However, if he did, Sue would complain. When she’d been his wife, she’d complained about everything, and now that she was his ex-wife, she complained even more. Dan tried to keep these brief meetings when he picked up the kids as non-confrontational as possible. It wasn’t easy.

“Don’t forget to put on her snow pants, not just the parka, when you bring her home,” Sue said. She tied the bunny cap on two-year-old Jenny’s head. “Last weekend you took her to the movies in just her parka.”

“She only had to go as far as the car,” Dan said.

“I don’t care. Just listen to me, for once. You never listen to me.”

“She’ll wear everything. And Donnie will, too.”

Donnie, slumped in a corner over his Game Boy, said, “No, I won’t. It’s not cold out.”

“It’s February!” Sue whined. “Why doesn’t anybody listen to me?”

“Sue, it’s February but it’s forty degrees out.”

“That’s right, Dan, just undermine what I say. You always were an underminer. Donnie, do you have your math homework?”

“Yeah, I…hey, there she is!” Donnie leapt up and opened the kitchen door to the welcome cold. The family dog, Princess, sped in. “Dad, she’s been missing since yesterday and now here she is!”

“Hey, Principessa, hey, old girl.” Dan bent to stroke the golden retriever, whom he missed. Memories flooded back: Princess curled at his feet during Monday Night Football, running at his side while he jogged, catching a Frisbee while Donnie laughed and laughed in his port-aswing. Good old Princess!

Princess snarled deep in her throat, a sound such as Dan had never heard her make before.

“Hey, Princess…”

The dog snarled again. Her hackles rose and her ears strained forward. Her tail lifted into the air.

Sue said, “She’s never done that before!”

“Hey, Princess, down, girl, good dog — ”

Princess growled loudly, lips pulled back over her teeth. Dan moved to grab her collar. He was too late. The dog sprang at Jenny.

Sue screamed. Jenny screamed, too, and Dan looked frantically around the kitchen. He grabbed a frying pan from the dish drain and whacked Princess on the back, as hard as he could. Her body shuddered but she didn’t let go of Jenny. The little girl’s arms flailed in her pink parka. Dan saw with stunned, sick disbelief that Princess had her by the neck. He swung the frying pan again, this time on the dog’s head.

Slowly…so slowly, it seemed to take hours…Princess’s grip on Jenny slacked a little. But the dog did not let go, and the child was no longer screaming.

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