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Brothers Hardcover – March 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553093797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553093797
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,755,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Science is on trial and the medical future of the human species is at issue in this latter-day riff on Inherit the Wind. Molecular biologist Arthur Marshak sees his research into the regeneration of diseased or dysfunctional organs as a step toward extending human lifespans. His opponents think otherwise. They include his brother, an inner-city physician who sees Arthur's breakthrough as elitist medicine for the rich; a televangelist who considers Arthur a modern Frankenstein; an anti-science gadfly modeled on media provocateur Jeremy Rifkin; and a cabal of animal-rights activists. Sparks fly when all parties collide in a Washington "court of science," convened to determine whether the scientific community will sanction the experiments despite their devastating side effects on one human subject. Bova (Death Dream) uses multiple points-of-view to skillfully probe the ramifications of a number of hot socio-medical issues, including corporate sponsorship of scientific research, the ethics of animal experimentation and the social responsibilities of the national health care system. The courtroom drama never ignites, however, smothered repeatedly by predictable stereotypes. Arthur is depicted as the classic man of action bound by red tape, while his most vocal opponents are portrayed as self-interested ignoramuses. The large cast of female characters, meanwhile, seems to serve mainly as the scientist's past and future harem. Despite the intelligence and eloquence of its arguments, the narrative ultimately offers just one viewpoint, playing devil's advocate with itself.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

What if, instead of being transplanted, hearts, livers, and kidneys could simply be regrown like a lizard's tail? This turns out to be a faint possibility in Arthur Marshak's genetic lab. He encourages his research staff to pursue it, but political and corporate threats loom in addition to the scientific problems. Even his brother, Jessie, a renowned physician, turns against him, leaving Julia, the love of both their lives, caught in between. By weaving flashbacks from a scientific inquiry into the ethical and medical questions of rejection, Bova (Deathdream, LJ 8/94) adds the tension of courtroom drama to a medical thriller. This novel will please Bova fans and bring him new ones.?Ann F. Donovan, Clearwater P.L., Fla.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

The ending was very anticlimactic.
Janice M. Barlow
In real life actions like this break up families and are not done by caring, compassionate individuals.
Bill Mac
The research that was the subject of this novel is fiction.
majewski@erols.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Knight on February 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first examined "Brothers" I was a bit dismayed to find its construction utilizing the "different chapter, different viewpoint" technique, the very same style which had forced me to read Monsarrat's "Kapillan Of Malta", in two unsatisfying operations... all the odds, and then all the evens.
But Ben Bova has done a rather better job with what is, in fact, a very difficult technique. His chapters are short, so that the reader does not lose the thread of the narrative, and the register and voice of each viewpoint's dialogue is authentically maintained. Even the many flashback or flash-forward sequences are well signalled and slip seamlessly into the structure. Perhaps those of my reviewing colleagues at Amazon, who so panned this work, should try their hand at this genre....Folks, it is harder than it looks, and Bova has done it well!
Working in pharmacy, and also serving, from time to time, on a panel which examines potential names for newly patented prototype medications, I was naturally interested in the medical research background to this story...and could well imagine the authenticity of the underlying conflicts as the factions representing medical and social ethics, academic lobbying, political aspirations, avarice versus selflessness, and humanitarianism versus personal ambition fought it out against a University laboratory background ...test tubes at ten paces!
The theme of genetic modification , in this case the viability of empowering the human body to grow its own replacement parts,thus requiring no donor organs and no surgery, is probably even more keenly debated now than when this book was written five years ago...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 29, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never read any work by Ben Bova although I know he is very popular. The research that was the subject of this novel is fiction. That is why it's a FICTION novel. This is not a text book or a training manual in molecular biology technology. The novel, however, was very well written, with an interstring plot and very realistic characters. We have to keep in mind that when we read a Science Fiction novel, the author is working based in a theory that could be true in some circumstances. It reflects the imagination of the author, and "Brothers" is a prime example. I think that what Ben Bova wanted to expose is the hardships and obstacles that scientists face while they work in any controvercial reseach: ignorance, stuborness, fear, traditionalists, moralists and every excuse laymen find to obliterate the advance of science.A brilliant work!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janice M. Barlow on February 29, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
I was 2/3rd's of the way through this book and realized that nothing was going on. Two very self absorbed brothers make amends while each maintaining their own opposing views. I guess I was disappointed to say the least. The ending was very anticlimactic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Morgause on January 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think the concept of moral issues in relation to science and tissue regeneration is very interesting and deserves an actual debate, an in-depth presentation of both sides of the issue. "Brothers" does not provide this. The numerous results of a technique to re-generate organs and nerves are barely touched upon. Only the two most popularly discussed aspects (animal research and elitism)are actually discussed, while things like the question of whether, from a humanist rather than religious perspective, immortality is a good thing, are barely mentioned. The pure science aspects are simplified to a level where even I, a grade twelve student, feel like I've suddenly regressed to Kindergarten. That said, the story itself is no better. Both Arthur and Jessie's characters are shallow, while the others are so flat as to be almost not worth mentioning. Ben Bova delves no deeper into his characters than the actions they are forced to by the bare requirements of the plot. He puts his characters into simple, easily defined moral boxes, and they behave accordingly: without personality. On all counts, philosophy, science, and character, this book's a failure.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Ben Bova usually writes workmanlike science fiction novels that are stronger in the exploration of scientific ideas than in characterization. In Brothers, Bova tries to work on characterization and fails miserably.
The story is about two brothers, Arthur and Jesse Marshak, who are opposing each other in a science trial. Arthur has been developing the technology to re-grow organs, a technology that may have led to the death of one his employees. Against this backdrop, the sibling rivalry of the brothers is played out. The story of the problems with the technology isn't bad but the characters just are too unbelievable.
Arthur Marshak is the older brother and a good and decent man. His brother Jesse is portrayed as selfish and self-centred early on but becomes more likable as the story progresses. Jesse is either a jerk or he isn't and Bova doesn't give him enough complexity to balance it. Nor does he undergo a conversion of great significance during the story. Jesse's characterization is bad but his wife Julia's is abysmal. Julia is portrayed as the most sympathetic and compassionate individual in the story. Yet this woman quite literally goes from Arthur's bed to Jesse's. In real life actions like this break up families and are not done by caring, compassionate individuals. Subordinate characters fare no better. The key politician is stereotypically just out for votes. The fundamentalist Christian preacher is unprincipled and perhaps even a crook. It strikes me that writers can only get away with these types of attacks on Protestants and the stereotypes are highly discriminatory.
Will the science trial turn out favourably? Will the two brothers be reconciled? The conclusion doesn't make a lot of sense. Bova can do better.
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