A book by Robert J. Sawyer

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  • Sep 2, 2006
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book which examines some important moral and scientific issues. I liked Pierre and Molly and found the information on DNA fascinating. But I think the author went off in too many directions, with the Nazi stuff (incorporating true events involving the false accusations against John Demjanjuk), the crazy old guy studying Neanderthal DNA, the findings on DNA frameshifting, and the greedy insurance company with its murderous founder and rapacious stockholders.

Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I found Sawyer's implied criticism of the US health care system to be fully justified, but this Canadian author did not get it all right. In some ways, the situation in the US is even worse than he portrayed. Someone like Pierre, trying to get health insurance on his own, would find that even if he was perfectly healthy all he could get was very poor coverage at very high rates. The only people in the US who have great coverage for health care expenses are people who work for large companies and have employer-provided insurance or are public employees. But Pierre would probably not have been left to get his own insurance because, as Molly's husband, he could probably have been added to her insurance and, since she was a public employee, she would have had very good coverage. The profit-driven US health care system (not really a "system" at all - more like a lottery) arbitrarily provides great health care to a lucky group, mediocre care to most, and no care at all to millions of unlucky Americans.

Surely someone in Pierre's situation - having Huntington's Disease - would go back to Canada where he would never have to worry about getting the care he needed or going broke trying to pay for it. Yes, I totally envy the Canadians for their fair and humane health care system. In the US, we have created a "health care system" that tries to avoid anyone who actually needs health care! (and could theoretically lead to schemes to eliminate people whose health care will be very expensive).

Okay, some of the plot elements were a little far out, but the drama moved along nicely and I identified with Molly's desire to be a mother and found myself really wondering what I would do in her situation (not to give away the plot here, but I mean what she found out about her in-vitro conceived daughter). When I got to that part of the book, I almost had to stop reading because for me the sheer horror of what was done was just too much. But Molly so loves her little girl that nothing matters, and her gift of reading thoughts turns out to have a purpose. A bit cornball, but still touching. I give the book high marks for making readers think, even those who disagreed with the author on some issues.

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Theresa Welsh ()
I'm a book lover, book reviewer and part-time book seller. I'm also a writer and author, with a background in IT work in both the auto and medical industries. I retired from full-time work a year … more
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About this book


There is a 50 percent chance that geneticist Pierre Tardivel is carrying the gene for Huntington's Disease, a fatal disorder. That knowledge drives Pierre in his work on the Human Genome Project, an attempt by scientists to map human genes. But a strange set of circumstances--including a knife attack, the in vitro fertilization of his wife, and an insurance company plot to use DNA samples to weed out clients predisposed to early deaths--draw Tardivel into a story that will ultimately involve the hunt for a Nazi death camp doctor.Frameshiftshows why theNew York Timescalls Robert J. Sawyer "a writer of boundless confidence."--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 0812571088
ISBN-13: 978-0812571080
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
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