Douglas E. Richards
Forge, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
hen Erin Palmer was a child, a psychopath targeted her happy family, slaughtering all but her. Erin, frozen in fear, was only saved by a last, desperate act of her dying father's. Since then, she has devoted her life to understanding the monsters who could do such terrible things to others. She has also trained hard in martial arts, determined never to be so paralysed by fear again.
s a grad student, Erin is contacted by neuroscientist Hugh Raborn, who claims to have isolated eight genes responsible for the condition. He enlists Erin to perform experiments in search of a cure. As part of her research, Erin has access to psychopaths in prison. Violating her principles and without their consent, she experiments on them, something very illegal. But when she perfects the therapeutic cocktail which is the cure and flies to California to deliver the news in person, she learns that whoever contacted her was not the real Hugh Raborn.
fter she calls her contact number and talks to Drake, they arrange to meet back in Arizona. Before that happens she's almost kidnapped by another party interested in her work. At the meeting, Drake's agent, physicist Kyle Hansen, shows up. He tells her that Drake is an alien from the planet Suran and has come to cure psychopathy in mankind to avoid its otherwise inevitable self destruction. He plans to spread the cure by means of '
a hypercontagious cold virus.
' Kyle claims that an international arms dealer is trying to stop them. Soon Erin and Kyle are on the run, with betrayals at every turn.
, Douglas E. Richards looks at psychopathic genes' contribution to human development, good and evil, from all angles and encapsulates these ideas in a fast-paced SF thriller, in which Erin must finally face and overcome her childhood fear. It's an exciting, thought-provoking read.
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