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Ebook Details
  • 04/2020
  • 978-1-7330499-0-0 B086RFXC2M
  • 340 pages
  • $10
Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps
Eugene Clark, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Rachael is a successful IVF breeder of race-winning horses. One of the appreciative beneficiaries of her Kentucky-Derby-winning horses gives her the gift of creating her own designer baby through Better Genetics Corporation. Separately, wealthy video-game magnate, Max, yearns for a child after having failed repeatedly to find love. His friend also recommends Better Genetics Corporation through which Max can choose the physical traits and innate strengths — intellectual, athletic, scientific, or artistic — of his own future offspring. Each travels to the unknown-island location of the secretive Better Genetics Corporation where they will learn how many traits can be programmed genetically instead of being left to chance.
Reviews
Clark explores the possibilities and pitfalls of human genetic engineering in this science fiction series debut. He takes as his inspiration recent scientific experiments in using CRISPR technology to edit human DNA, extrapolating the stories of two people who use genetic engineering to buy “designer babies.” Rachael, a successful horse breeder, finds her relationship with her pothead loser boyfriend unfulfilling. Uninterested in being saddled with a lazy husband, and with her biological clock ticking down, she heads to the Better Genetic Corporation (on a remote tropical island) to get herself a baby on her own terms. Max, a millionaire video game designer, is dumped for suggesting a prenup and remakes himself into an upstanding man. He is swept up by BGC’s claim that they can make him an ideal child. All he needs now is to find a surrogate.

Clark’s characters grapple well with the moral dilemmas of designing a child, but the additional topics he addresses—religion, eugenics, Nazism, human sexuality, race, and consensual sexual violence, to name a few—are often glanced over. The narrative brings them forward dramatically only to resolve them in a manner of pages, undermining the weight of their implications.

Awkward dialogue and interactions between characters, and some clumsy narrative techniques, tend to drag down the pace of the plot. Clark tries hard to reach for a broader understanding of the future of reproductive technology, but his narrative lacks nuance, preventing the reader from truly grasping the horror that can arise from designing children from scratch. Despite this debut’s fumbles, science fiction readers interested in emerging technology and moral dilemmas will find enough to engage with and will keenly await future installments.

Takeaway: Readers interested in the implications of human genetic engineering will appreciate Clark’s disturbing vision of a near-future era of designer babies.

Great for fans of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Theodore Sturgeon’s More than Human.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 04/2020
  • 978-1-7330499-0-0 B086RFXC2M
  • 340 pages
  • $10

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