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Gemsigns ((R)evolution Book #1) Hardcover – May 6, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the ®Evolution Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Jamaica, STEPHANIE SAULTER studied biology at MIT before majoring in English literature and minoring in anthropology. Interested in developing social media for creative collaboration, in 2010 she launched www.scriptopus.com, an interactive website for writing short fiction. She lives in London.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

When describing a circle one begins anywhere. Each point precedes and succeeds with no greater or less meaning; the tale they tell remains unvaried. There is neither cause nor consequence, for every moment is both. It is curious the resignation with which we declare this pattern in human affairs, and the virtue with which we credit it in nature.

But beware illusions born of too still and centred a perspective. A mere tilt of the head, a sideways step – and history unspools. The triumphs and tragedies, victories and defeats, dark and golden ages come and go and come again, each shaped by the revolution of which it is the final coordinate, shaping that for which it is the first. No two moments are exactly the same, for travelling the circuit conveys a momentum that displaces the point of return from the point of departure. Life proceeds in a spiral, pushing outward and forward, expanding and accelerating as the players whirl through their evolutions, building a vortex.

Be careful. Stand in the middle and the maelstrom will pull you in.

But you must pick the right moment to join the dance. There are events which ripple down the helix, maiming and moulding all the moments that follow. These are worth understanding.

Beginnings are important.

* * *

So our story begins, perhaps, with Dr Eli Walker, tasked with the mapping of divisions, accosted, accused and propositioned. Insulted, as he would have it, but then Dr Walker is a principled man. To himself he is a player in a morality tale, unravelling dissimulations. He knows, or thinks he knows, what the choices are. His own righteousness is in no doubt. He has the conviction of a man who fights on the side of angels.

* * *

But Dr Walker is a reactor to a reality, the effect of a cause. We might better begin with Gaela Provis Bel’Natur, struggling with corollaries as she makes her way across the city. They will lead her to a treasure beyond imagining, the discarded relic of a dismayed hegemony. Does our story flow from what she finds, or from the manner of her finding it? She could not tell you. Gaela is the very embodiment of unintended consequences. It is her boon and her doom, her grace and her gall. It exhausts her. Gaela could tell Eli a thing or two about the hard grind of duality. She would give a lot for a middle ground, some quiet grey in which to rest, and she may find it, for a while. But not for long. She has convictions of her own.

* * *

So Gaela, maybe Gaela is the starting point. Or maybe not. All beginnings are endings, after all, so perhaps we should commence with a departure. A long time ago, in a forest, a deep dark wood as befits a fairytale. A young girl, not much beyond childhood, flees between towering trunks, bearing an impossible burden, running for her life. She has emerged from earth and the great silent spaces beneath the cathedral of trees frighten her. She pauses for breath, rests her hand against rough bark. She has never felt anything like it.

A moth flutters away from her fingers, brown-grey and mottled and invisible until it moves, finding a safer vantage higher up. The girl is transfixed. She is reaching up towards it, hoping to see it fly again, when a whisper of sound reaches her, sighing on a breeze through the forest. For a moment she has almost forgotten the pursuit. She wishes she shared the moth’s gift of camouflage, or the possibility of escape in the trees. But even if she were to ascend into the canopy she knows they would find her, track her, burn the forest to retrieve or destroy her. There are men and dogs on her trail, and darker things as well. So she turns, slips away up the slope, running as fast as she can, making for the open ground she knows is there.

Knows? She does not know. She has seen a map. They did not think she would understand it and so did not trouble to hide it from her. She understands only too well that it may be old. The place she is making for may have changed. The trees may stop too soon, or not at all. There may be people, and not the ones she hopes to find. She had very little time, and has judged this her best chance. There is nothing to do now except struggle uphill, hearing more distinctly the whir of a helicopter in the distance, feeling the stitch burning fierce in her side, the low branches and brambles catching at her as the trees become smaller, newer, and the forest turns to scrub on the flat land of the plateau.

This is unexpected. The trees have been cleared, a hazard she had anticipated; but some time ago, and the new growth has not been managed. So she is not exposed as she had feared, but she is slowed down, reduced to walking pace as she pushes through the dense brush. Her pursuers are still moving at speed, and she can hear the dogs now, and the shouts of the men.

Strangely it is the helicopter she fears most, and she scans the sky. Its endless unbordered space should panic her, but instead the blue immensity overhead fills her with a strange, wild joy. She marshals it. There is no time yet to explore this feeling, and if she is captured the time will never come again. No sight of the helicopter, and its sound has become distant: it must be at its apogee as it circles the forest. For a moment she marvels at her luck, and wonders that it is not tracking the movements of her pursuers, as they are tracking her. The others must not all have been rounded up yet, she thinks, and hope surges in her. Again, she damps the emotion down. She is the only one who has any real chance, and that will be dashed in minutes if the helicopter is called in before she reaches her destination.

Which it will be the moment they realise where she has led them. She can clearly hear the other sound she had been straining for. It was a distant murmur as she came out of the trees, then a growing grumble as she pushed and strained through the dense growth, and now a rushing, tumbling roar as the bracken releases her and she stumbles out onto a narrow, grassy ledge.

She peers over the edge, down into the gorge that falls away a short stride from where she stands, then to the right and up to where the river pours out of the mountain far above her head, crashing into a valley as far again below her feet. White mist and water spray billow up to meet her. The cleft is narrow, a vein of softer rock scoured away over eons. On both sides the walls are nearly vertical, broken here and there by solitary trees that colonise the few ledges and point up at her like spears. As she leans over, the waterfall’s turbulence buffets her, wetting her face as though with tears.

No one is there to meet her. A mountain climber with ropes and anchors might hope to abseil down the side of the cliff; she has neither the skill nor the equipment. White water boils at the base of the drop, and she feels panic rising up into her throat. She takes a deep breath, then another and another, and casts a last look up at the deepening blue of the evening sky. Then she fixes her eyes down the long plunge into the gorge.

A moment later the tracking team bursts out of the forest and into the sticky embrace of the scrubland. The leader hears the faint thunder of the waterfall, checks her map and swears. She screams into her earset.

Within seconds the roar of the helicopter rivals that of the river as it heaves into view. By the time the trackers and dogs force their way through the undergrowth and onto the ledge, it is hovering above the gorge, swaying a bit in the updraughts, staying high to avoid the steep walls and buffeting currents. Its rotors almost span the width of the crevice. Retrieval specialists in orange safety suits hang out of the door, sweeping the gap with binoculars. Even from a distance their body language signals disappointment.

The air team leader spots his counterpart standing on the edge of the abyss and pulls himself back inside. She knows what he will say before her comlink crackles with the news.

The girl is gone.

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Product Details

  • Series: (R)evolution Book #1 (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623651603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623651602
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What makes humans human? Is the quality of being human a DNA thing or a legal status? How does one acquire human status? Gemsigns is a brilliant perspective into all the issue above and much more. Sometime in the not so distant future, humanity faces extinction due to a strange disease called the Syndrome. In the effort to save he human race, all the restrictions set on genetic engineering are rescinded, allowing the researchers to find a cure and, at the same time, create a new race of genetically modified beings (a.k.a gems). Gemsigns presents the story of the gems' fight to be recognized by the society they live in and to benefit from the basic rights the normal people (a.k.a. norms) are entitled to: basic care system, pay for the work they're doing, access to learning facilities, the right to vote. In reading this book, one realizes how many things we take for granted in the civilized society we live in. The author presents the story from different angles, the gemtech companies' view of trying to keep gems as commodities and the gems themselves, their fears, frustrations and hope, all balanced by newspaper articles to give us a full picture of the events of the day. It's a bold and successful attempt and the story is engaging, submerging the reader into a world on the brink of a big change, full on tension and violence and emotion. We never lose sight of the politics behind it, of the difficulties to create new definitions, rules and laws, of the economic and social repercussions, and of the fear that, in the end, makes us all human.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sadly, I was really excited for this book. The reviews on it are great, but I seem to be one of a couple that can't get into it. I admittedly didn't even finish this book. I tried restarting it twice before I finally gave up after realizing that I wasn't really even reading it anymore, I was just skimming the pages. That's a sign that I'm not EVER going to finish a book, and I took it to heart and decided to revisit this book again- but at a much later date.

The plot was extremely slow. While the idea is great, the way it's written makes it hard to keep up, and it takes a lot of mental bookmarking to figure out what some characters are referring to later on. By what I've read, it seems like everything is written as if you just stumbled into the conversation, and somebody explains what they're talking about to you much, MUCH later. The characters are okay at best. I don't want to give too much away for those that might still want to read this, but they all same the most predicable things. And again, you're not really kept in the loop.

I'll be giving this book a try later on, but I'm still sad that it didn't work out the first (two times) around. I hope you might enjoy it more than I did.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Gemsigns is a novel akin to Daryl Gregory’s Afterpary or Ramez Naam’s Nexus. Utterly fantastic, sucking you in from the get-go and not letting you go even once the story’s over and there’s no more of the book to read. The world is so beautifully constructed, so fantastically real, that you swear you yourself could be living in it right now because all the little details are right there to make it all come to life in such vivid and evocative ways.

In the future, humanity has made a comeback from a crippling neurological condition caused by overexposure to so much of the technology that we take for granted today. Medical science finally found a treatment for this, using gene therapy to alter humanity just enough so that we became immune to the Syndrome. Those already affected by it stood no chance, but the next generation could live on, and the one after that, and so on. But we didn’t stop there. Once better able to alter our genetics before birth, why not eliminate chances of birth defects and genetic disease, making a stronger, better human race? And while we’re on the subject, why not create a whole new race of people, genetically modified to do whatever we want, be they people who regenerate organs so they can constantly be cut into and used for transplants, or people with enhanced strength for heavy lifting, or people with gills so they can work underwater for extended periods of time? And why bother giving them rights; after all, they’re just fleshy machines, really, created with a work purpose and will never really interact with normal human society.

This is the premise behind Gemsigns.
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I found it very relevant that the author picked up our increasing virtual and wireless connectedness and dependency on IT and gadgets of all sorts as the root cause of a disease that could mean the end of humanity as we know it. Adding in the double sword solution of the initial problem by means of gene manipulation with the ethical consequences for mankind made for an interesting and relevant plot foundation. Definitely. Book that deserves a wide readership especially those who wonder how the combined impact of the running issues of our times, proliferation of IT technology, gene manipulation, never-ending economical crises will play itself out.
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