The latest--and by far the least grabbing--recombinant-DNA scare novel. Dr. Jim Healey is working on a genetic surgery project, trying to develop a DNA treatment (sheltered by an insulating virus) for phenylketonuria, a form of mental retardation. The virus shelter, however, is inadequate; a sloppy scientist gets some of the contagious stuff on his forehead; and soon everybody's getting mysteriously dumber: Dr. Jim is hearing doggerel voices, his boss keeps slipping into dirty limericks, Jim's wife is getting sexually perverse (painting porno and demanding S/M), Jim's son is raping Jim's daughter, and soon it's spread beyond the hospital community, the nation's heading for an IQ mean of 83, crime is soaring, the New York Times is illiterate, etc., etc. As always (Earthsound, Heat), Herzog's straight science stuff is better than average. And his storytelling is graceless but highly serviceable. However, the all-important simulations of loss of intelligence via ""the stupid sickness"" are supremely unconvincing, ranging from the silly (inability to pronounce big words) to the suspect (the presumed link between decreasing intelligence and already-formed sexual inhibitions). We wouldn't exactly say that only those with IQ 83 will go for this dumb scenario--but a perfectly viable idea has definitely been (as Dr. Healey might say in his decline) underexplotted. . . er. . . underexploibled. . . uh. . . wasted.