Let's give a warm welcome to Jade Kerrion, author of Perfection Unleashed, the first book in a new science fiction thriller, Double Helix.
Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her novel, Perfection Unleashed. Drawing rave reviews for its originality and vision, and lauded as “a breakout piece of science fiction,” Perfection Unleashed is a Royal Palm Literary Award 2011 winner and a Next Generation Indie Book Award 2012 finalist. Get your copy at Amazon.com
Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted--a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention. When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives--the in vitros, clones, and mutants--collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab's search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.
Q: Today, I asked Jade about utopia vs. dystopia and which, if either, described Perfection Unleashed?Utopias and dystopias abound in speculative fiction. Hands up, anyone who believes they’re living in an utopia? If you do, then you probably believe that there’s a guy in Nigeria just waiting to transfer several million dollars into your bank account.
Perfection Unleashed: Utopia or dystopia?
Perfection Unleashed: Utopia or dystopia?
Utopia describes an ideal community or society. Ideal in what way? Well, that’s the problem. No one has ever agreed on that point. Literature provides us with examples of utopias that emphasize various elements of life. Plato first described a socio-political-legal utopia in The Republic. Since then, the incarnations of utopias have emphasized aspects of ecology, economics, politics, religion, science and technology, and feminism. There is even a concept of utopia that harkens back to a more primitive and simple state where man lives in harmony with nature. (I’ll admit, that sounds more like a nightmare to me. Where would I be without air-conditioning and flush toilets?)
I believe Wikipedia best describes Utopia: “The word comes from the Greek οὐ (‘not’) and τόπος (‘place’) and means ‘no place.’ The English homophone eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ (‘good’ or ‘well’) and τόπος (‘place), means ‘good place.’ This, due to the identical pronunciation of ‘utopia’ and ‘eutopia,’ gives rise to a double meaning.” Utopia doesn’t exist, but the concept of utopia has always fascinated writers of speculative fiction. By pushing an element of society to its imagined perfected state, authors can debate its strengths and weaknesses, usually from opposing points of view. Examples of these would be the socialist utopia depicted in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and the individualistic and libertarian utopia in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
Dystopia, on the other hand, is the dark side of utopia’s moon, and is characterized by negative, anti-utopian elements. Sometimes, those elements are openly displayed; at other times, they are disguised beneath the polished sheen of a seeming utopia. A recent example of a dystopian bestseller is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
My novel, Perfection Unleashed, turns the genetically-engineered, perfect human being, Galahad, loose upon a society that has spent decades ignoring the fundamental cracks in relationships between humans and their genetic derivatives, the clones, in vitros, and mutants. So, what is Perfection Unleashed? Is it utopian or dystopian? The answer: Neither.
Perfection Unleashed is particularly compelling because it is anchored in the science, technology, and societies that exist today. I pushed the boundaries, of course, but it’s all real. For example, in chapter three, the “live blood transfusion” that equalizes the vitality of brain functionality between the two participants in the transfusion is based on a real experiment that took place a year or two ago, on mice (instead of humans, fortunately.)
Science figured out gene splicing and cloning decades years ago (admittedly, there is still the occasional roadblock to work around.) Today, we have silk that come not from a spider’s spinners but from goat’s milk. We have glow-in-the-dark kittens and puppies (I still haven’t figured out what I would do with a glow-in-the-dark puppy, other than not trip over it on a midnight visit to the bathroom.) Science isn’t the barrier that’s keeping the so-called Genetic Revolution from breaking through. It’s our perception of what is and is not acceptable in the direct manipulation of our own evolution.
But what about the social elements of Perfection Unleashed—the discrimination, mostly subtle, but sometimes not, against human derivatives who are perceived as genetically superior to humans? Aren’t most dystopian societies built around the premise of the superior few who oppress the many, less-fortunate souls?
Discrimination, in my opinion, isn’t about the many or the few, the strong or the weak. The weight of numbers and superiority of strength (be it influence, wealth, or power) facilitate discrimination, and they can be combined in different ways to create interesting stories. Perfection Unleashed reflects my personal experience: I was raised in a country where the many (who had political authority) discriminated against the few (who had economic influence.)
Discrimination has always come down to perceived differences, and the key word here is ‘perceived.’ Danyael Sabre, the protagonist of Perfection Unleashed, is a mutant—an alpha empath—and he knows better than most, what it is like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. He knows what it is like to be feared because he is powerful, and to be oppressed because he is different. How do you find your way in a society that is determined to, rightly or wrongly, label people, and then judge you based on those labels?
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