The first all-Book View Cafe/Book View Press anthology is live now. You can download the Kindle version for $4.99, and it’s also available at Book View Cafe. Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls (Sarah disavowed the title, and I honestly don’t remember how it came about – because it’s definitely not a “serious” title) is a benefit for BVC, which means it’s a super-entertaining anthology of a bunch of great stories, it’s reasonably priced, and it benefits a great cause. Brenda Clough is the cover creatrix and I bet she will tell about the whole genesis of the cover at the BVC blog. Currently, it looks like Rocket Boy is moving up in the ranks of regular SF anthologies, not just the Kindle store.
Because the title “Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls” so inspired me, I contributed a serious story, “Perfect Stranger” to the mix. Actually, when I sent the story in, it was “the science fiction anthology.” So . . .
In the sense that some people think science fiction ought to be predictive, “Perfect Stranger” is a near-future SF story that envisions that current research into gene therapy will not only come true, it will take the form of treatments that first cure serious prenatal conditions, and then, deal with all the concerns that parents have as their children grow. It tells the story of Gary Gill, an ergonomic architect (that’s sci fi too, but a more-than-possible field), whose son Denny would have died at birth or shortly thereafter, if Gary and his wife hadn’t given Denny in-utero gene therapy for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Gene therapy research continues in this area. Eye color has now been linked to more than one gene marker; therefore, a simple therapy to change eye color isn’t as likely as a cure or amelioration of HLHS. Gene therapy has been found to improve color blindness, however. I wrote “Perfect Stranger” in 2006, and it’s no surprise to me that even more progress has been made in the area of combating obesity through gene therapy than even in the area that looked more promising and important at the time: congenital heart defects.
The story wasn’t written to “inspire discussion,” but it did inspire some serious commentary.
If you read the story, you’ll know what my opinion is of these treatments. I support any medical advance that saves lives. I am not sure how beneficial any of these advances are if they “monkey” with the overall genetic inheritance of a person. I do not think, at this time, and probably not ever, that human “engineering” will out-engineer nature. We are finding this in all bioengineered living things; the advances that seem so marvelous at first, have their downsides, sometimes severe, in the fullness of time. That’s the theme of “Perfect Stranger.” It’s also a story about a dad who wakes up one morning to realize that his only son isn’t the boy he and his wife brought home from the hospital fifteen years earlier: he’s a stranger.