David Brin and Gregory Benford
Take some 300 people and isolate them from the rest of humanity on a comet - some of them bioengineered, representatives of different races and religions, brilliant minds but mostly social misfits. Then take alien life forms found on the comet, add a few disasters and you've got the recipe for a blockbusting epic of science fiction. It sounds far-fetched, but coming from the pens of two of the best contemporary SF writers it's a gripping read - and it raises a number of questions that, in the fifteen years since the novel was first written, still haven't gone away:
What is it that makes a person human? Does a genetically engineered person have the same rights as one naturally conceived? What of a person who is so radically changed that they enter a symbiosis with a non-human life form - are they still human? If someone's biological systems crash but you manage to upload their mind into a computer before the body becomes a corpse, has the person died? Is the person in the computer real or have you just made a copy? Is a relationship with such a person real? Does the possibilty that this could be done legitimise it? Would the failure to do it constitute murder? Can such a person be "saved" - do they need to be?
If these sort of questions concern you - and you enjoy a rollicking adventure to boot - then this is a novel you shouldn't miss. And with issues like these at stake, let no one call you escapist for reading SF - because if these questions don't concern you now, be sure of this: by the end of this century, they will... especially if it's your mind that's been uploaded into the computer.
Phil Groom, June 2001
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.
Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.
|Reviews Index | EU Bookshops | UK Bookshops|