A clever, tactful fictional exploration of what could be called Biblical genetics.
Initially, the story threatens to fall into the conservative Christian genre of pseudo-science fiction–proselytizing tales engineered to provide convincing faux-scientific accounts of the miraculous events portrayed in the Bible. Hurst offers an extended scientific meditation on the first few chapters of Genesis, in which characters live for centuries in seeming defiance of sickness, disease, accident and old age. The main character is Doctor Edward Sherman, a researcher who believes that the Genesis account is true, at least with respect to the incredible age of its protagonists. He has devoted his academic life to seeking out and identifying the function of the theoretical â€œMethuselah Trait,” or â€œM-Trait,” a genetic combination that would grant its recipient a life as long as those of the Biblical patriarchs. (According to the Bible, Methuselah, the oldest human ever, lived to the ripe age of 969.) For Sherman, however, the M-Trait is more than theoretical–he is one of a small number of â€œultra-mortals,” a group of people who possess this rare genetic combination and can live for hundreds of years. Sherman was born in the early 19th century, and has spent his long life trying to pin down the exact DNA sequence that makes him so unique. Fortunately, Hurst seems uninterested in winning over readers with a religious message; he simply weaves a compelling tale. The prose is light and nimble, the plot lines quick and subtle. The characters are thoughtfully constructed and carefully developed, and his background in Biblical history (Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies from Cambridge) only makes the story more believable.
Biblically inspired science fiction designed to entertain, not convert