The Gene Thieves

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Author: Maria Quinn
Barcode/ISBN13: 9780732287177
ISBN: 0732287170
Imprint/Brand: Voyager
Release Date: Mar 2009
Format: B Paperback
Number of Pages: 432
Weight: 288 grammes
Price $AUD: $24.99
Categories: Science Fiction
Australian Author
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Lonely genetic scientist Piggy Brown is desperate for a child but he's in a tricky situation: he needs a lawyer to help him. Dancer is used to contracts which push the envelope of the law and he has his own reasons for wanting to find a way to grant this brilliant man's wish. The Conjugal Contract lawyer visits The Nest the official centre for surrogates and inveigles them into recommending someone they have used before someone who wont ask too many questions about the baby she carries. But choosing a surrogate can be risky and this one Angela comes with baggage: her own child Molly ... a six year old who has already seen too much of her mothers world. When a grotesque kidnapping happens everyone's life is thrown into chaos and Jack Lee Chief Investigator for UN Ethical Science Council decides its time to take charge for the sake of the future.

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Review by Jonathan Dean:

Welcome to the future Australia, or is it just around the corner? Genetic modification and surrogate parents are the norm in this view of society to come, but even Paradise has problems. Dr Mitchell Brown, known as Piggy because of his appearance, wants a child, but there are major legal obstacles to his desire, so he gets Dancer, a lawyer, to assist in drawing up the Conjugal Contract.
But Piggy is a genius, and has managed to isolate and control the human ageing process. This has brought him to the attention of the UN Ethical Science Council, who want to control his discoveries for the sake of humanity. Other parties also want to take over, and Piggy's desire for a child leaves him vulnerable and open to be blackmailed or worse......
A fascinating book, which speculates about where we will go in terms of social and technological change, based on current capabilities. The characters are a little two dimensional, but the plot is well developed, the storyline flows and drags you into the middle of these people, making you feel like part of the whole scenario. I enjoyed it overall, and found that while the story is set in the future, the issues raised, including cloning, genetic selection and modification, and surrogate parenting, are increasingly relevant today.