REVIEWS by SULLYDOG
by Robert J. Sawyer
Sawyer is one hell of a storyteller. After reading his Nebula-winning The Terminal Experiment, I made it my business to get my hands on everything the man has written. I fully expected Frameshift to win the Hugo this year, and Im still convinced that it had the competition beat, hands down. Like the other books reviewed in this issue, Frameshift speculates on the promise of molecular biology. But unlike Holy Fire, which is more about a womans search for her own creative spark, or Ribofunk, which is an exploration of what a world shaped by transgenic engineering might taste like, Frameshift is truly hard molecular sf.
The protagonist, Pierre Tardivel, lives under a death sentence. He has been diagnosed with Huntingtons chorea, a dementing disease of the central nervous system that kills its victims at an early age--but only after its first robbed them of their faculties and disfigured them with constant, bizarre and uncontrollable movements of the face and limbs. Pierre decides its time to get off his ass and do something with his life before it runs out. He makes it his mission to win a Nobel Prize before he dies. He studies molecular biology and joins the lab of Burian Klimus, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist in his own right. When Pierre agonizes over whether he should have a baby with his wife and risk passing on the Huntington gene, Klimus becomes more than just Pierres boss. Klimus volunteers to be a surrogate father for Pierres child.
And then things get really interesting. Klimus, as it turns out, may well be a Nazi war criminal. The baby supposedly fathered by Klimus may not be his at all. In fact, she may not even be human. Pierre may have stumbled onto a malignant conspiracy involving a huge HMO. And he may also have discovered a second genetic code, an intron-based syllabary that holds the key to human evolution--past and future.
Theres more--much more. Sawyer ties it all together beautifully, in a book thats intelligent, exciting, inspirational and heartbreaking. Please enjoy.