________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 18. . . .May 2, 2008


Darwin's Paradox.

Nina Munteanu.
Calgary, AB: Dragon Moon Press/Hades Publications, 2007.
280 pp., pbk., $17.95.
ISBN 978-1-896944-68-5.

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Victor Burke removed his Sentech-connected vee-set and his vision of Frank Langor's bedroom abruptly vanished. Victor sighed and looked vacantly up at the ceiling from the bed he was lying on. He easily coaxed the image of her face and shapely body in that nightdress, her soft voice, and her wonderful scent to linger deliciously in his mind and smiled: Julie Crane, one of the rare women he admired and the woman he'd secretly been infatuated with for thirteen years. The woman he'd helped to escape Icaria twelve years ago despite all of Icaria demanding her capture and death sentence...The woman who didn't even know he existed because they'd never met.

She'd looked remarkably the same, thought Victor. Age had simply added dignified lines of experience and maturity to her still beautiful face. Mostly laugh lines, he noticed, pleased that she'd had a good life. The heath had imbued her now deeply tanned face with an incredible vitality that sent a thrill though him.

He'd experienced her just now on Sentech's transmission through Frank Langor's implant the one thing, along with his personal droid, that Gaia had left him during this incarceration, perhaps as a conciliation. No, he thought again. That wasn't her style; she'd done it to torture him and gloat, to show him what she was doing to his precious Icaria. To punish him. Damn her. Damn that woman. He suspected Aard was dead. Killed by that bastard, Tyers, probably. One of Dykstra's men no doubt."


The setting is the future. Disease has swept the planet, reducing mankind to surviving in a small number of closed societies living in cities. Icaria, the largest city in North America, is located on the shores of what was once Lake Ontario. Julie Crane, her husband Daniel and their 11-year-old daughter Angel live in exile out on the heath, a desolate area. Their only friend and neighbour in this wilderness is Aard, a survivalist. The family fled the city of Icaria after Julie was accused of several crimes, including murder, but also as being the source of Darwin's disease. Darwin is an artificially created virus that was designed as a boon for mankind. Instead, it turned into a curse. Julie's father was Darwin's creator. Julie was the first carrier of the disease, deliberately infected at age five. Julie survived the disease and is a veemeld, one of the persons whose genetic make-up allows them to communicate directly with the city's A.I. network through a retinal scan. One of her best friends in Icaria was SAM, her A.I. mentor. Once she fled the city, she lost contact with SAM. Julie learns that her family is now in danger because someone from Icaria has discovered their hiding place. In order to keep her husband and daughter safe, she has decided to run off into the wilderness on her own to lure the danger away from the family. When her husband and daughter discover her missing, Angel convinces Daniel they should set off in pursuit. Julie is captured and taken to Icaria. Daniel and Angel make their own way to the city where they become separated. Icaria is torn between several factions. There is a power struggle for control among the ruling inhabitants, an underground rebellion against the machines that run the city, and the dangerous virus that may have become intelligent. All the factions consider Julie a suitable pawn; failing that, they would use the members of her family as bait.

     The story revolves around this power struggle. There is conflict between the various characters and their motives, and passions, including a rape scene. The writer covers issues from marital problems to teenage rebels. The city of Icaria is described in detail. Beyond the struggle for the control of the city is the background of the disease, Darwin, and its potential impact on the evolution of humankind. Julie Crane is the key to both situations.

     Much of the novel relates to the characters' inner thoughts and struggles. Suitable for the reader who enjoys a futuristic adventure yarn, or for one with an interest in the potential effects of scientific meddling.

      At the back of the book is a six page "GLOSSARY OF SCIENTIFIC TERMS & SOME NOTES" that explains some of the actual scientific terms used in the story such as "Aggressive Symbiont" and "Anadromous" as well as some of the terms created just for this story such as "Interact-sym" and "Veemeld". There is also a two page "Bibliography & Recommended Reading" for those who want to look further into some of the reference materials.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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