In this debut sci-fi thriller, a young doctor adjusts to life on a space station filled with androids and “animal-adapted” humans.
Lt. Dr. Grace Alexandra Lord just arrived on the space station Nelson Mandela. At this station, soldiers who have been genetically altered with animal upgrades return from throughout the Union of Solar Systems for mental and physical recovery. Grace quickly impresses her superior, Dr. Hiro Al-Fadi, by helping subdue a rampaging “gorilla-adapted” soldier. Grace also meets anesthetist Dr. Dejan Cech and android SAMM-E 777—who looks more human than most of those on the station. When a tiger patient suddenly scratches Grace, she learns that the soldiers still retain their animal instincts. This prompts the watchful SAMM-E 777 to become possessive of the enchanting doctor and give himself several upgrades to better protect her. Grace, meanwhile, keeps bumping into the gorgeous Dr. Jeffrey Nestor, to whom she has trouble committing. Later, the doctors discuss the possibility of recording their minds with new technology called memprints, which can be transferred into fresh bodies upon the original’s death—a great option to have, especially when a mysterious virus begins melting victims. Debut author Sasaki draws exuberantly on the oeuvres of classic sci-fi authors Asimov, Herbert, and Clarke, remixing familiar concepts to lively effect. Jolly personalities rule most scenes, like the salacious Dr. Hiro, who tells Grace, “If you have problems dealing with your attraction to me...I can suggest a good therapist.” Sasaki also addresses big ideas philosophically, like the possible problems of one mind using up multiple bodies: “Would the human race become stagnant, because the older generations refused to pass on?” When the crisis hits, engaging science is explained well, like the virus’ “ability to stack up and form an enormous, insoluble protein that can affect brain cell function.” Most fascinating, however, is SAMM-E 777’s slow realization that he loves Grace, which makes him a better individual. A wily villain leaves room for a sequel.
A layered debut that sings odes to the grandmasters of sci-fi.