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Genetopia Paperback – December 12, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. British author Brooke's engrossing far-future parable intertwines old, old human questions: Who am I? Where am I? Where am I going? Must I go? After centuries of biotechnology gone berserk, "True" humans inhabit a land of mortal fears where a chance microbe or the changing vats of their enemies can dehumanize them forever. "Mutts," grotesque "Lost" subhumans, outwardly devote themselves to their True masters, though like pre–Civil War slaves, the mutts secretly talk of finding "Harmony," freedom from their inborn servitude. Flint, a True human, leaves his clan to find his rebellious sister, Amber, sold by their abusive father into a horrifying slavery. Though he dreads change, Flint himself passes through successive fragments of a degenerate civilization, first adopting the Lordsway of the gentle religious Riverwalkers, then becoming a "Watchman" in an army bent on purging the Lost from the world. In this impressively conceived, poignantly drawn object lesson in the implacability of mutability, Brooke (Lord of Stone) posits one constant: that only change is eternal. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"...taking us into worlds we never imagined,looking at the futurescape through the eyes of people a lot like us." -- Kit Reed, author of Thinner Than Thou
"Genetopia is a meditation on identity...It's also one heck of an adventure story. Snatch it up!" -- Michael Swanwick, Hugo award-winning author of Bones of the Earth
"Masterfully written, this is a parable of difference that demands to be read, and read again." --Stephen Baxter, author of Transcendent and Evolution --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Genetopia is well-written, asks good questions, and provides an unusual answer. The resolution is heartwarming and sad all at once, and wraps up the story in an unexpected way. Like Heinlein and other science fiction authors, Brooke is asking questions about the nature of humanity and the role science plays in defining that humanity in the future. In Brooke's vision, science has changed us into something different, not better, nor worse, only different. Flint and Amberline are compelling characters, and their journeys take quite a few unexpected twists. Brooke has written a tight, interesting, and unusual novel in Genetopia that I recommend as a good read for those who want to explore the nature of humanity and for those readers interested in the lost civilizations style science fiction.
It's a marvelously rich book about what it means to be human and where we'll go in the future. It's also about a boy's journey into manhood and all the lessons he learns. In many ways this reminded me of Huckleberry Finn. It's a book that makes you think and that makes it a book worth reading. For the complete review see the February issue of SFRevu.com.
However, during a Treco clan gala, Flint cannot find Amber; he soon concludes that she is simply gone. No one seems concerned except Flint who knows she may have decided she had enough abuse from their cruel father and left on her own accord; however more likely Flint assumes the worst that slavers abducted her thinking she is a mutt for market. Feeling nothing toward any other member except perhaps hatred of his father, Flint decides over the objection of his kin, to search for the only family member he cares about, Amber; when he finds her as expects to do he will insure her safety even if he has to battle slavers and slave owners.
The above two paragraphs are the opening gambit in a futuristic tale in which biotechnology has gotten out of control. There are a few purebred humans who are subject to being tossed into the changing vats. There are also Mutts who are slaves whispering that one day they will be free; obvious parallels to the slavery of this country add depth. This is a thought provoking science fiction story that is more a coming of age tale that condemns any "ology" or ism that cause harm. The fascinating story line contains several interesting spins. For instance ironically the audience knows up front what happened to Amber while Flint can only conjecture while he learns who he is in a world off kilter, as Amber is just the mechanism to propel the hero to begin his quest. Fans of deep thrillers will appreciate this fine parable of a man frightened by what the future holds, but sets forth anyway.
I have not found someone who compares to Octavia until Keith Brooke. I like how he writes a great sci-fi organic story, yet really addresses some current and social issues. Definitely looking forward to reading more future work from him.