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||Double Dragon ebooks
||Jul 1 1998
Price: $5.99 (eBook)
Double Dragon Publishing
Cover Art by Deron Douglas.
Beyond priceless is friendship
to the one whose price
has been established,
to the one too useful
to be allowed the title person.
Book Three of the second Nublis trilogy. Completed three weeks prior to the announcement of the cloning of Dolly the sheep, this story could have come from today's headlines. The author raises disturbing questions about genetic engineering and cloning for body parts told from the point of view of such a clone, but in the end, the reader is left to make up their own mind about who is wrong and who is right.
Thanks to Aristide Bonzemius's extraordinary bioengineering techniques, the new clones' maturation rate was measured in months rather than years. In a seemingly natural progression, the task of caring for the dozen new beings growing in the lab had fallen to Orion. He'd fussed and watched over his much anticipated siblings like a proverbial mother hen, often rising in the middle of the night to check on their welfare. The summer months crawled by and waned into autumn. He itched for the moment when his siblings would finally wake, picturing it in his mind a thousand times. Their bewildered eyes meeting his from the tables on which they lay and their puzzlement turning to gladness when their hearts finally beat against his own.
A mere four days before Orion's treasured charges had been due to awaken, the Professor died suddenly in his sleep. The following morning, he stood by helpless and bewildered, watching his father lethally inject every single clone. One by one, he helped Claudius unfasten them from their tables, then tenderly wrapped each body in a sheet. As they carried them to the lab's incinerator, the tears streaming down his father's face had matched Orion's own.
"You're all I need," was his only explanation. "You're my affirmation the Orion Project is a success. But you must understand. With the Professor gone, there's no way to continue."
Orion's eyes were blurred from weeping. "When my usefulness is over, are you going to do that to me too?"
Dr. Bob Rich
Was it coincidence? Or karma? I'd just finished reading a book by David Suzuki. This famous geneticist and media figure has written a book of warning, and yet of hope, focusing on the ways humanity is currently destroying itself. Two of the chapters in this wide-ranging work assessed the likely impacts of genetic engineering, which after all is Suzuki's specialty. His conclusion: it is as dangerous as all-out nuclear war.
And then I received a science fiction book for review: Kate Saundby's 'The Orion Property'. This is the seventh volume of her 'Nublis Chronicles'.
Orion, the hero of this story, is a genetically engineered creation. He is a cloned and mechanically improved version of a scientist who had sought immortality.
Suzuki shows that meddling with the genes of plants and animals is fraught with deadly danger. Saundby explores dangers of a different kind. Her story is centered on the social and personal consequences of attempts to improve humanity by these means, the dangers facing us if genetic engineering should prove to be as successful as its proponents hope.
Not that 'The Orion Property' is heavy reading, far from it. It is thankfully free of preaching and long tracts of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. Instead, it is a lighthearted romp through a world which is an intriguing mix of medieval social organization, 19th Century customs, futuristic science and magic.
We follow the attractive and lovable hero through misfortune and escape, and in the process, learn of some of the bad things about having been created instead of born. We learn about the effects of greed, that universal poison, and how it inevitably transforms what should be a boon into a terrible problem.
This was the first book in the 'Nublis Chronicles' that I have read. No doubt fans of the series will be familiar with several of the characters, but I found my introduction into the middle of a sequence of books to be painless. Occasionally the author was forced to insert a paragraph or two that was obviously the summary of a previous book, and this interfered with my immersion in the story, but apart from this, the writing is excellent. Orion and several other characters will be loved by all, the villains are delightfully mean and ruthless. This is an enjoyable tale. And if it is the sugar coating around a serious message, well, all the better. No-one has yet been damaged from being confronted by questions of ethics, only from failing to think about them.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Dr Bob Rich writes science fiction too. Three of his books are EPPIE 2001 finalists, and this includes his SF title, 'Sleeper, Awake'. He also writes historical fiction, set in 700 BC, and is involved in so many other activities that sometimes he loses count. He is handicapped by a twisted sense of humor, a compassion for the underdog and a passionate concern for the future. Suffering is said to be good for the soul. Bob doesn't know if this is true or not, but his hobbyhorses certainly make his writing different. Check it out at http://bobswriting.com/ or write to him at email@example.com.
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