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Michael Crichton meets the Brothers Grimm in a battle to decide humankind's evolutionary fate. Dalton Stewart, ruthless billionaire owner of Biotech, Inc., joins forces with Dr. Harold Goth, an equally ruthless, albeit less well-off Nobel laureate. Their goal is to develop Goth's genetic-code enhancing process, which improves intelligence, health, and the keenness of the five senses. Their program, called Jupiter, will enable parents to have children who are perfect in every way -- if superprecocious, hyperkinetic, psychic bundles of joy are your idea of perfect. Upon completion, Jupiter will be marketed to the wealthy at $500,000 a pop. Like any high-rolling enterprise, it requires a working prototype in order to lure the customers into the showroom; so Stewart, being the old softie that he is, impregnates his unwitting wife, Anne, with a Jupiter-enhanced zygote. Naturally, Stewart's rivals are somewhat resentful of his deal with Goth and would do anything to disrupt their plan. One adversary, Baroness Gerta Von Hauser (a cross between Eva Braun and Cruella DeVil), will stop at nothing to get hold of Jupiter so she can start her own Ãœber-baby factory. To obtain the program and its password, currently in the possession of Anne (now estranged from Dalton) Von Hauser arranges to have the Jupiter child -- a towheaded delight named Genny who at three reads the New York Times and plays piano by ear -- brought to her creepy castle in Bavaria as a hostage. Anne gives chase but is no match for the baroness, who locks her up in a torture chamber until she's ready to give up the goods. But Genny doesn't play by those rules. She escapes from her tower, torches the castle, slays the evil baroness with a sword, and rescues Mom. They all live happily ever after. No fooling. A shambling yet enjoyable bit of claptrap from the author of Prussian Blue (1991).

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Viking