Saturday, May 14, 2005

Book review: L'échelle de Darwin

Here is the first book I read in my trip to euro, it is the french translation of a book called Darwin Radio. I think it is a really good book with only enough science to make the science-fiction credible and to make you think about the “meaning” of the book. SPOILER WARNIKNG DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY THE BOOK’S SURPRISE.

The story of the book is simple, a new disease seems to be strinking all over the world but particularly in developed country. This new disesase as a very strange origin in that it seems to be composed of ADN strand from our body that are somehow becoming active and attacking people. This new disease is also very sexist in that it only attack (well really attacks) woman and they do not show any major symptom if they are not pregnant. If they become pregnant however now the true face of the disease reveals itself. First thing all woman that are infected reject the fetus after a few weeks. Then a month or two latter they become pregnant again with what is in the first stage of the disease monstrous baby, cyclopse and other stillborn babies. The books follow the destiny of three peoples, one genetic researcher who had first theoried the possibility of ADN becoming virus, second a virus under that search the world to warn the CDC of inpending virus threats and finally an an anthropologiste that got fired from it last job for trying to stop the bone of a Indian to be returned to the Indian. Through the eyes of those people we learn that the virus might not be something that is trying to destroy humanity but a new hope for humanity. Early in the novel the genetic researcher thinks that those virus hidden in the building blocks of humanity might be a previously evolutionary mecanism that is trigger by stress and provoques large scale modification of the specie. While the virus hunter is willing to belive her he as great doubt since no baby is born living and even worse then that the “virus” seems to be mutating. The final clue to the mystery come from the anthropologist who makes a perculiar discovery in the Alp. A Neanderthal couple (dead and mommified) who appear to be the parent of a homo sapien child. The gouvernment is trying to stop the virus and to prevent pregnant woman from giving birth to the monsters and to probably unleash plague appon humanity the likes of which where not seen in a million year. Through a rather hard to belive love story the anthropologist and genetic researcher will conceive and give birth to the first of the NeoHuman. (or Homo Sapien Nova). The books follow the changes of society has secular and religious autority try to understand what is happening and to control the destiny of humanity. I think this is a very interesting idea in our day where genetic engenieering of the human species is just around the corner. While this book does not deal with eugenic or deliberate modification of the genome it nonetheless explores the answer of the gouvernement to large scale crisis and the “evolution” of humanity. The result while always logical and following the usual preserve the status-quo mentality of bureaucrate is scaringly realisitic. To prevent changes the governement goes to great length, martial law, sex segregation, the killing of babies then the theft and isolation of babies. Under all that the book show an underlying hope that no matter the strength and resources of bureaucrats things will always happen like the famous words of Lea in Star Wars: “The more you tighten you grip the more stars system will slip througth you finger”. This is a very interesting idea and one that I think we are seeing quite well in Quebec, the more laws, rules and restriction we impose on the population the more some segments of it seems to get clever at finding loop hole or living outside the law.

Well that my impression of that book and now someone else started to smoke nearby, it’s annoying cause I’m just about alone.

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