Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Featuring Stephan P. Kiernan

By Lynn Willoughby

The Curiosity ~ Stephan P. Kiernan
This is a debut novel and it is powerful, and takes on a lot of big questions.  “What is the true measure of a human life?  Where does the line fall between legitimate science and playing God?  If death could be undone, what would it mean to live?” – Justin Cronan
A scientific expedition to the Arctic discovers the body of a man frozen in the ice.  Our protagonist, Kate, has brought small, simple life forms back to life after they have been frozen.  The lab calls this “reanimation”.  But never before has this been tested on a human being.
Nevertheless, the team goes ahead and the man, Jeremiah Rice, is reanimated in the Boston lab.  The last thing Rice remembers is falling overboard in the Arctic ocean in 1906.  Will he remember more?  Who was he, how long will he live?
Kate and Jeremiah eventually leave the lab taking walking trips around Boston, where Rice had lived.  What is truly imaginative and thrilling about this book is how he sees our world today.  He is dumbstruck by the variety of produce in a supermarket – although nothing has very much taste.  He is overwhelmed by smells in the “fresh” air.  He finds it difficult to function amid the noise of traffic, planes, music, bells, sirens, chatter, people constantly talking on phones.
The back story deals with the media frenzy generated by this reanimation and the massive protests by religious fundamentalists.  No one but Kate actually sees Jeremiah, the man.  It is a genuine push me-pull you thriller, using the tug of war between ethics and science.  What would you do with another life?
I enjoyed it very much.

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