The Gene Thieves, by Maria Quinn

‘You see, I want to recreate myself, or rather myself as I should have been.’
Impatient to get the worst over with, the lawyer brusquely responded. ‘Please get to the point, Dr Brown, and in words a layman can fathom, if you will.’
‘The child I intend to raise will be the child of my parents, a new beginning, a chance for their genes to combine more successfully than at my conception and ultimately to be passed on to future generations, without creating another genetic mistake like me.’

Brilliant scientist Piggy Brown wants to have a baby – but not just any baby. Piggy is brilliant but, from birth, has been physically imperfect, resembling the animal he is nicknamed after. Now he wants to use a surrogate to give birth to the baby he believes his parents should have had. Peter Tebrett – Dancer- is the lawyer Piggy turns to for help in dealing with the legalities of such a baby. Dancer has his own reasons for wanting to help his client, not the least of which is to assuage his conscience. But in time a friendship develops between the pair.

Unfortunately for both men the surrogate chosen to carry the baby comes with baggage, and a past neither of them is aware of until it is too late. Piggy himself has problems. His genetic research has made him a target of mercenaries who will stop at nothing to gain his knowledge – even if it means violently kidnapping the baby.

The Gene Thieves is a gripping thriller set in a near-future which is plausible. The UN Ethical Science Council tries to ensure that advances in research do not take mankind down dangerous paths – but in a world where money can buy almost anything, this is a difficult task. Meanwhile, couples wanting children can legitimately use the services of professional surrogates, and marriage has become a temporary state, entered into as a legal mating contract.

In this world full of beautiful people, a man like Piggy finds it hard to live a normal life and sees producing a perfect baby as going some way to rectifying the disappointments of his now dead parents. But perhaps past wrongs can be righted in ways that are not so obvious.

There is much at stake in this tale – friendships, lives, reputations – but perhaps, most importantly, the future of humanity.

A gripping tale.

The Gene Thieves, by Maria Quinn
Harper Voyager, 2009