About the Author
Other moments in his career include co-authoring the infamous "Not Your Fathers Oldsmobile" campaign for General Motors and penning a 60-second commercial for Heinz catsup wherein a teen-aged Matt LaBlanc plants and catches the slow pouring hero product from atop a New York brownstone.
He is a desired speaker and has traveled all over the world giving diverse and often provocative talks related to his profession. Understandably, a favorite topic is the "Untold Story Behind the Scenes of Altoids."
A creative writing and film major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he wrote for both the right and left-wing campus newspapers and was Features Editor for the "Mad City Music Mirror."
A writer of numerous short stories, he has won honorable mentions and later First Place in the national competition of "New Voices in American Fiction."
"The Last Generation" is the first of three novels he has written to be published.
Ironically, given the story, he has three children.
Steffan, his wife Susan, and the girls live in downtown Chicago, the city where he was born.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Doctors needed a culprit. Something evil to slay. A virus. A contagion. As of yet, they had no takers. Not a goddamn clue.
"Like trying to save snowflakes as they fall," is how a renowned biologist from Pakistan put it. "Watching. Thats all we do," said another, as one developing human being after another died.
Obviously, in vitro fertilization had been attempted. Year after year, it remained the most common medical procedure. But the same thing happened to new human life, whether it started outside a womb or in: Embryo Fatality Syndrome. An egg could be fertilized without difficulty. Theyd been doing that forever. Bringing it to term just didnt happen. Cells divided in the usual manner, forming a discernible embryo with a minuscule heart intact and palpitating. Then gill slits. The slight bending of a tailbone. The blunt protrusions that three hundred million times before had become arm and leg.
But no more than that.
Death came swiftly, the epidermal membranes collapsing into the liquid around it. The effect was not unlike that of a paper towel absorbing water, then breaking down. As documented so thoroughly, the embryo dissolved, becoming vague, disappearing, all in a matter of seconds. The life inside these women had been a mirage. There, then wavy, then gone. Not real anymore.
EFS had been filmed and analyzed in microscopic detail, every cell observed, from start to bloody finish. There was nothing gleaned except for the obviousobliteration quiet and quick.
EFS happened in the host wombs of chimpanzees. Gorillas. Orangutans. Even cows.
Below the sea. High above the atmosphere.
In different temperature extremes, under varying pressures.
Even in cyberspace.
Their embryos went in a heartbeat, existing humanity had become like the rented palm plants ubiquitous to office buildings: unable to reproduce, biding time, in a corner by the elevator.
Waiting to die.