Science can build entire cities just as quickly as it can destroy them. The outcome lies in the hands of the ones who hold the knowledge as well as the ones who call the shots. This is the predicament told in John D. King's novel, Just Out of Curiosity.
The story opens with a gifted, anti-nuclear scientist from a university in Texas, Robert Novaro. He develops a more efficient process of separating the isotopes of certain chemicals. The discovery that he presented in his dissertation has become vital to a procedure that once was a military secret. While conferring with his mentor, the former goes into cardiac arrest. In the chaos, Novaro takes the professor's notebook and secretly photocopies its explosive content. Soon the FBI is alerted of his secret, and Novaro is sent to trial. His only salvation is his radical lawyer, who orchestrates his probation and kidnapping to Angustia, a dystopian nation in South America.
In Angustia, he attempts to escape his past but gets caught and sent to a brutal work camp, an A-bomb for Angustia's dictator. There he meets his fate as, on one suicide mission, he is hoisted on his own petard. The anti-nuclear scientist dies on a bomb he helped build.
Just Out of Curiosity is an exciting story that crosses continents. It tackles scientific and political topics as well as what happens when the two collide. It also tells the story of unintended consequences, how an action that was done "out of curiosity" snowballs into ramifications of international proportions. King takes the readers on an adrenaline-charged ride of a scientist who discovers that the problem with dangerous knowledge is that it is a lot like smoke from a fire. You cannot simply hold it. It always manages to escape to tell the tale and burns things in its wake.
About the Author Dr. John D. King is a retired pathologist now living in Austin, Texas. He was born in Abilene, Kansas, in 1926 and raised in the yet smaller town of Lyndon. After two years in the Army Air Corps in the later years of WWII, he attended the University of Kansas, from which he received his MD degree in 1954. His practice of pathology was in Rockford and later in Peoria, Illinois. A special interest in biochemistry was of minor value in the writing of this novel, but otherwise, his medical career has no pertinence to this tale of nuclear bombs and unpleasant dictators. He is married and has a daughter and several grandchildren.