Escape from Extinction

Vector. Oct. 2020. 301p. ISBN 9781734665505. $29. SF
Leo Bonelli, founder of a successful biotech company, creates a secret area in eastern Oregon called Arcadia, where he seeks to revive extinct animals and plants. When Bonelli goes even further and creates his son Ned by blending human and Neanderthal DNA, he ignites a situation that will put everyone in Arcadia under a spotlight, with both foreseen and unforeseen consequences. Similar to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this latest from Rich (Getting to Green: Saving Nature; A Bipartisan Solution) uses current technology to showcase a “what if” scenario highlighting the moral, societal, technological, ethical, and philosophical issues of possibly using such DNA technology. Hence the book’s focus on the characters navigating debates, consequences, and dilemmas that could occur in such a situation, rather than on a fast-moving, action-filled plot. This concentration, however, is at times a weakness, as the story meanders and the conclusion is less than satisfying.
VERDICT Overall, readers seeking the exchange of ideas at the center of their sf will find this an intriguing if uneven entry.

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