RED Book 12: Perfect People – Peter James


So I’m a little behind on my write-ups. And this is a bit of a problem because I tend to forget the details of a book I’ve read quite quickly. Also I’d like to catch-up today so expect multiple short posts.

Perfect People is one of those books that has a SciFi premise but is not written by a SciFi writer or in a SciFi way. I’m thinking of things like Children of Men. The premise here is that of “designer babies” i.e. that it will be possible to control and select the genetic traits an embryo has before implantation.

John and Naomi have recently lost their four year old boy to a genetically inherited condition. The idea that they can exclude this possibility from a further child is obviously hugely attractive, however the doctor they approach for this offers them far far more than simply avoiding disease. Looks, intelligence, athletic ability even temperament are on the menu. And then there’s more unusual traits such as the ability to survive on less sleep and calories than a regular person. As you can guess things don’t go exactly as they expect.

Perfect People is quite a fun read though I think it’s a little long. The first part of the book is largely set up, explaining the ideas and setting out the scenario where by the genetic shenanigans can take place. After they become pregnant and have the offspring it becomes very much like Midwich Cuckoos. There’s also a sort of thriller element in that an extremist religious group has taken exception to this tampering with nature and they are hunting the couple.

It definitely has its moments and the premise is interesting. It explores the ideas a little but a more serious examination would probably require a less fantastical version of what exactly is possible. The characters are subservient to the plot and things like the state of their marriage, a supposed infidelity and so on seemed to take centre stage when needed but fade into the background at other times.

6/10 – not perfect, not bad.

 

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About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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