They are Marie Curie and Albert Einstein, although they don’t know it ... yet. When two friends discover that the company they work for is using illegal cloning technology to bring back deceased geniuses for a second act, should they expose and destroy the very source of their own existence? And this knowledge places them in the crosshairs of the powerful organization that’s putting recreated, brilliant minds to audacious use. Now, their survival depends on their wit; but fortunately, of that they have plenty. When a third member joins this band of fugitives, he seems to possess the greatest mind of all. But whose?
At the top of the list of people uncertain whether they’re Magni is Art, who will lose much of what he loves in life during his time at Locksley. Eventually, he and Rox and the others will even see their lives threatened, as company politics turn nasty. Unwin makes Locksley’s machinations tense and surprising without pushing this bold premise too far into the fantastical, and his sharp prose, convincing dialogue, and understanding of business culture all keep the pages turning and the twists as plausible as they can be for a story in which one character might be the clone of Albert Einstein.
That brisk pace and the story’s compact page count at times work against the premise, as revelations that should jolt (such as Rox’s glimpse of a photo of Marie Curie, or Art’s recognition of the source of the company’s name) come so quickly that readers haven’t had a chance to immerse themselves in the mysteries. Questions surrounding Art’s identity and the founder’s son’s vision for the company are more effective, revealing themselves over pages of suspense and occasional action. Throughout, scenes are fast, strong, and memorable.
Takeaway: Brisk novella of corporate cloning and mind-bending twists.
Comparable Titles: Jane Gilmartin’s The Mirror Man, D.T. Wilby’s Ringer.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-
“Top-notch storytelling from a master. Magni is a page-turning technothriller that shows S. D. Unwin is a rising star in science fiction.”
“A clever, complex techno-puzzle with authentic characters and a tight, smartly arranged setup. . . . A final showdown pitting brilliant minds of the past against contemporary thinkers makes for a memorable climax.”
"Takes complex and important ethical and moral scientific questions, and somehow crafts them into a page-turning thrill ride. Visceral and cerebral. Delicious."