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BROTHERS by Ben Bova


by Ben Bova

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 055357356X
Publisher: Bantam

A biotechnical breakthrough throws two brothers into conflict in this high-tech thriller set in a "science court" in the nation's capital. Bova is best known for science fiction (Orion Among the Stars, 1995, etc.) that displays an unusual awareness of the role of politics in the scientific process. Here, he adapts that awareness to his second contemporary suspenser (after Death Dream, 1994), this involving one Arthur Marschak, head of Grenford biotechnical lab, where a genetic technique for allowing the body to regenerate injured or diseased organs has been discovered. Grenford has become the target of fundamentalist protestors, who believe that Arthur's breakthrough would disrupt God's plan; at the same time, Arthur's brother Jesse, a surgeon who has won humanitarian awards for his work among the poor in a Bronx hospital, opposes the life-extending treatment on the grounds that only the very rich will be able to afford it. The conflict is exacerbated by the fact that Jesse's wife, Julia, broke an engagement to Arthur to marry the doctor; and by Jesse's workaholic neglect of their dying mother. Meanwhile, the corporate ownership of Grenford is trying to fight a hostile takeover and is considering selling off the lab as a means of raising money, while at the same time Arthur convinces friends in Washington to convene a science court where the merits of his technique can be decided from scientific evidence alone. (Much of the novel consists of sensational testimony that, to Arthur's disgust, has nothing to do with the issues.) In the end, the good scientists win a victory of sorts, and the brothers achieve a reconciliation--hardly a surprise, but there's plenty of excitement along the way. An effective mix of science, politics, and family struggle in a novel that should reach a wide audience.