Published by Createspace
Release Date: December 21st/2012
Purchase: Amazon|Amazon UK
Guest Post by Jade Kerrion
Humans in the world of the Double Helix
My YA novel, When the Silence Ends, is set in an Earth transformed by the Genetic Revolution. It’s an Earth you’d recognize. People drive cars and use tablets and cell phones. Washington D.C. is still where it is, and it’s still the capital of a thriving, prosperous, and democratic nation. The only real difference is that humans exist alongside their derivatives—the clones, in vitros, and mutants.
Some people find the juxtaposition of such extreme advances in science and genetics odd against what is essentially a “contemporary” Earth. Why didn’t I set the novel in Earth’s distance future?
The answer, quite simply, is that the extreme advances in science and genetics are happening today. Let’s test your knowledge of bioengineering. Which of the following is true?
1. We used genetic engineering to create hybrid creatures, like the goat-sheep, and the camel-llama
2. We used genetic engineering to transfer bioluminescent genes from coral and deep-sea jellyfish to create glow-in-the-dark mice, cats, dogs, pigs, and monkeys
3. We cloned animals, including sheep, dogs, and horses
4. We used genetic engineering to create animals that excrete pharmaceutical products in their milk and other bodily fluids
5. We used genetic engineering to preserve endangered species, creating animals that possess the nuclear DNA of the endangered species, and the mitochondrial DNA of the host species…in effect, a genetic hybrid
6. We created bug-bots by implanting wires in the central nervous system of insects, and we can now control their movements, including flight
7. We created organic robots by implanting wires in the central nervous system of rats, and we can now control what they do
8. We wired a monkey to control a third artificial arm entirely through its brain waves
9. We genetically engineered rats with pliable skin in order to grow human organs (e.g., ear) under their skin for eventual transplant to a human
10. We used organic computer chips made out of rat neurons to control a flight simulator
11. We isolated a brain of a lamprey eel and placed it in a nutrient medium, surrounded by electrodes. The living, intact brain controls a machine that moves toward the light (in much the same way a lamprey eel moves toward the light)
12. We used a DNA synthesizer to create an artificial organic cell. (Isn’t that an oxymoron?)
The computer is its parent
If you answered “Yes” to all of these, you are right. All of these are true. In this article, George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard University says, “The cheap human genome was supposed to arrive 50 years from now. It arrived this year (2012.)” Science fiction is now science fact. Today, we possess an unprecedented control over bioengineering, an area that remains largely unregulated by governments. The Genetic Revolution is advancing faster than you think, and it would not be a far stretch to imagine a world that still looks much like ours does today, but where humans exist alongside clones, in vitros, and mutants.
Just as America once wrestled with the issue of racial equality, the country now wrestles with the challenges of social equality in the face of genetic inequality. In When the Silence Ends, Dee struggles with the challenges of being human and ordinary in a world increasingly dominated by the genetically privileged but socially discriminated clones, in vitros, and mutants. It’s a story about the power of ordinary, and how just being human can sometimes be just exactly what the world needs.
Guest Post by Jade Kerrion
Can you find the pop culture references in Earth-Sim?
Jem Moran is a college student with a reputation to prove and a secret to protect. The prestigious world simulation program seems the answer to both her problems, but only if she can succeed in spite of her teammate, Kir Davos.
The premise of Earth-Sim sounds simple enough, right?
But I wanted more Earth-Sim to be more than just a story about Jem, her challenges, and her secrets. I wanted it to be a story about humans too, in all our foibles, our courage and our weaknesses, and most of all, our ingenuity and resilience. Earth-Sim showcases Earth’s history in a seamless blend of popular culture, science, and religion. Fact and fiction fit together into a jigsaw puzzle, sometimes called out clearly, at other times nestled into a single passing comment in a dialogue.
What were the sources of the puzzle pieces? Many puzzle pieces are built upon Earth’s history, both the planet’s geological history and the history of human civilization. I also drew extensively from religion, mythology, and popular culture.
Here are examples of the puzzle pieces you can expect to find:
* The extinction of the dinosaurs
* The cascading effect of the ten plagues of Egypt
* The rise and fall of ancient empires
* Geographical wonders like the Nazca lines in Peru
* Mythical creatures like the Loch Ness Monster
* The city of Atlantis, and why it was destroyed
* The title of a book by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jared Diamond
* The kamikaze, the “divine wind” that saved Japan from two Mongol naval invasions
* The transformative power of the Renaissance
* Galactic empires and superheroes drawn from popular comic series
* The title of a New York Times Bestseller by David Fromkin
* Stuxnet, the computer worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities
* The real purpose of the mysterious manuscripts, like the Voynich Manuscript
All of these and more are explained through the eyes of Jem Moran, Kir Davos, and SimOne—the two students and the android assigned to manage the planet Earth. Though presented as a whimsical and often irreverent romp through the history of Earth and its connection with the universe, Earth-Sim is a treasure trove of real information. You may recognize most of the references, but if there’s something you don’t recognize that you think might actually be a historical event or a pop culture reference, you can check Google or Wikipedia, or just send me a note…
Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.