THEORY OF BASTARDS by Audrey Schulman
Kirkus Star


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In the midst of a powerful climate-change event, a brilliant young scientist pursues her radical study of evolutionary biology in this intriguing mix of speculative and ecological fiction.

Francine Burk understands pain as intimately as she understands desire. Diagnosed with endometriosis in her 20s, Frankie uses a unique awareness of her body to inspire her unusual scientific research methods. She tracks seemingly whimsical mating habits, first in finches, then in humans, uncovering a theory of evolutionary diversity that will make her famous enough to inspire an online dating company called The Love Bank and field questions from NPR's Ari Shapiro. The research garners her a prestigious fellowship to the Foundation, where she partners with David Stotts, a no-nonsense biologist who served in the Army Reserves, to study the Foundation’s capricious population of bonobos. While there’s plenty to digest in these details alone, Schulman (Three Weeks in December, 2012, etc.) also weaves futuristic elements into this well-researched novel. Humans are wired into the Quark, driverless cars have replaced Uber, and large-scale climate events threaten to wrinkle the smooth efficiency of networked life. When a large dust storm disrupts Frankie’s research at the Foundation, she must adapt to the changed landscape quickly in order to help her partner—and the apes—stay safe. These seemingly disparate elements make for a deeply unusual, psychologically astute novel about technology and survival, sex and love. If the late Philip K. Dick and Ann Patchett had managed to team up and write a collaborative novel, it might look something like this.

Beguiling, irreverent, and full of heart.

Pub Date: April 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-60945-437-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2018


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