The Genome, by Sergei Lukyanenko

The psychological interactions and tensions between humans, genetically engineered humans, clones, and aliens, is probably the best way to describe The Genome, by Sergei Lukyanenko (Amazon link) in this unusual entry into the science fiction field.  It’s also about the ethics behind “Spesh” — humans who had their DNA altered at conception to become specialized in an occupation at a later time during their teens. All of that specialization comes at a price, as they — and you the readers — will discover. The Genome presents an interesting stew of characters. This isn’t “space opera” nor anything nearly as action-packed as that. It’s more a fascinating study of freewill or the lack of it when your DNA has been altered to enhance certain functions.

Alex Romanov is a spaceship pilot Spesh who is hired by a mysterious company to captain their tour ship. The owners leave the rest of the crew hires to Alex and he manages to gather quite a collection of misfits — mostly Speshes themselves. Then the passengers arrive and they turn out to be two aliens of the species Zzygous, not exactly the most popular breed amongst humans (“Naturals”) or their offshoots.

The first half of The Genome concerns the often contentious clash of characters as the ship is crewed, launches, and the tour begins. The second half becomes a whodunit and features a Spesh of the ultimate specialization. There’s way more to all of this, but I don’t like to give spoilers to a story I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Note that there are adult situations (okay, sex, though not too graphic) that might not be appropriate for very young readers. There are also several sub-plots in action that will keep your imagination involved on many levels.

There is action enough to keep things moving along and situations enough to have your brain whirling at possibilities as you digest this thoughtful book by Sergei Lukyanenko. I recommend it highly.


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