Six interwoven stories, each set farther out in time, envision the human future: fantastic but recognizable—maybe inevitable.
In the near future, Evan, 15, a semi-identical twin, struggles to accept that his life depends on organs harvested from his beloved sister’s failing body. A few years later, Milla, 16, conceals the extent to which her body was rebuilt after a car accident, acutely aware of prejudice against those who’ve undergone such procedures, until a disastrous first date with her longtime crush who’s heard the Rev. Tadd’s radio harangues against altering the human body, even to save lives. Years later, the charismatic religious zealot undergoes a startling change of heart. As genetic manipulation accelerates beyond cosmetic enhancements and lifesaving surgeries, animal and plant genes are modified, then used to modify human beings. Limbs can be added and the mortally ill frozen until their ailments are curable. For-profit enterprises, in the U.S. especially, compete in a laissez-faire free-for-all. Russia and countries behind the “Genetic Curtain” prohibit tampering with human DNA, instead transforming a burgeoning convict population into cyborgs who endure painfully inhumane conditions. While institutions worldwide, public and private, ignore ethical dilemmas, several vivid characters prove capable of heroism and generosity. Final story excepted, most major human characters appear white.
Imaginative and incisive, this asks readers to ponder what makes us human and if we’ll know when we’ve crossed the line, becoming something else. (author’s note) (Science fiction.14-adult)