by Simon Kewin (Stormcrow Books)
In receiving author bios I discovered that veteran Abyss & Apex author Simon Kewin, who has a story in this edition, has written novels. Here is my review of his science fiction noir gumshoe book, The Genehunter.
Very few authors writing about future tech extrapolate well on multiple fronts: social, technological, economic, theological, political. Add Simon Kewin to the ranks of authors who have not only done such extrapolations, but done them well, with believable characters and an intricate plot.
In a future world where people will pay good money for rare DNA–say of a famous musician, scientist, or actor–Simms is a genehunter. The ethics involved in this are both simple (he’s good at it and needs to eat) and complex. What happens if an unscrupulous person illegally clones the famous individual from the DNA? Are the clones persons who have souls or not, and if a person can clone another are they playing god in creating that soul? People like Simm’s ex run sanctuaries for rescued clones, others hunt down clones and kill them as abominations. And, of course, law enforcement has a rather unique set of challenges dealing with the trade.
Simms is licenced, supposedly a perfectly legal collector of DNA for those who want medical histories, paternity proven, or just like to frame the unique A-G-C-T gene sequences on their walls. But with the amount of money involved, everyone dips over the line to illegality.
And to complicate things, Simms is addicted to the adrenaline rush of outsmarting all of the other actors involved, which gets really exciting when they all start giving him conflicting instructions at the same time. Failure for one faction means success for the other, and the rewards are either insane amounts of money, death, getting back with his ex, death, incarceration, death, or the end of the world. And did I mention death?
I’m giving it five stars, but you will especially love it if you enjoy the sort of protagonist who likes giving the grim reaper the finger.