cover image Brain Child

Brain Child

George Turner. William Morrow & Company, $20 (407pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10595-2

Australian writer Turner provides a chilling tale of genetic manipulation. Raised in a state orphanage, David Chance is working as a journalist in rural Australia when experimental scientist Arthur Hazard reveals himself to be David's father and commands David to undertake a strange mission. Hazard explains that he is one of 12 people conceived without parents, the result of gene experimentation conducted by the government in an attempt to create geniuses. A success was scored with four of the so-called vitro kids, but they all committed suicide in 2023, shortly before David was born, possibly leaving a hidden legacy of knowledge. David is now enjoined to track down this legacy. He travels through the political and physical environments of Australia in 2047, looking for evidence and being either helped or hampered by people driven by secrets or expectations of their own. Turner, whose Drowning Towers won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, uses the test-tube geniuses to spotlight the deficiencies and the triumphs of being ``merely'' human. His future world is believable, the imagined scientific breakthroughs he postulates are intriguing and his characters are real enough to make us care about the issues he raises. (May)