More near-future sf from the author of Thoughts of God (1997). Viruses, it seems, evolved billions of years ago on a distant planet, then spread to Earth--and have been directing evolution ever since. In a small New York town, Gary Bracken researches for Centrifuge Labs, which derives most of its income from the Bureau of Industrial Research. Gary's team discovers a protein that viruses use to communicate with one another (like ants, according to Kanaly's strained analogy). So Gary must develop a computer program to translate what the viruses have to say. But then government bigwigs order Gary to shut down. Why? Well, Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control knows all about the chattering viruses and has also noted a general increase in violence, accelerating mutation rates in newborns, and the appearance of odd brain-wave patterns in some victims--and it doesn't want Gary's interference. Gary, however, shifts his work to his basement. Meanwhile, we learn that the virus ``clans'' are directing human evolution toward ``the Change'' in order to integrate their memories into human brains. Uncontrollable hallucinations result, though, and Gary, along with most adults, goes mad; only newborns, growing up with the Change, survive and prosper. A single unconvincing, hopelessly overextended idea, reminiscent of Greg Bear's Blood Music (1985) and, likewise, completely undramatizable: a schizophrenic washout.