A zany, darkly humorous, and perfectly executed literary SF tale…
Gender wars, corporate chicanery, sibling love, family ties, trauma, regret, and yearning are the themes of Morrison’s outstanding debut, a tale of gender wars set in futuristic America. It’s near-future, and the world is in the throes of a gender war. A testosterone-lowering food supplement is made mandatory by law to reduce violence and make gun control unnecessary. The misogynist billionaire Berkshire Benson takes it upon himself to salvage muscularity and has both money and power to manipulate genetic science and artificial intelligence. The timid, agoraphobic Nadia Holkam becomes a pawn in Berky’s sinister plan: her genes provide a perfect template to create docile, subservient futuristic generation of women. When Diana Holkam, Nadia’s prodigal twin sister, learns about her sister’s plight, she spurs a resistance movement, unaware of the fact that the AI system developing the genetic cure has an entirely different plan for human evolution. Issues of unscrupulous genetic manipulation, sexual abuse, obsession with power, tyranny, and gender and class disparity are ingeniously addressed within the book, which features both compliant and assertive female characters, corrupt, barbaric antagonists, the gruesome sexual encounters, and genetically modified animals. Without losing momentum, Morrison skillfully crafts the sequence of events leading up to the final catastrophe. Despite it being a very clever, if simple overall story of gender wars, the reader is more than halfway through the novel before it becomes clear that things are, in fact, what they seem on the surface. There is a large cast of characters, each with their perfectly sketched individual stories. Diana’s voice, witty and mocking, is urgent. Nadia leaves a lasting impression on the reader’s mind. The lurid fantasy she creates in Berky’s absence and her frequent hops into the past as she tries to blackout the painful memories of her present constitutes a story within a story. Flashbacks illuminate the Kelsey and Holkam family history. Sundar Rao and Ali Khan Ahmad’s backstories echoes the nostalgia and longing of immigrants and their archetypal quest for home in a foreign land. Canduka Cantor and Berky are thoroughly despicable antagonists. Effortlessly and inventively built, Morrison’s darkly humorous social commentary rings chords on the ways the society today is obsessed with gender, class, race, and white privilege, and how the power that science, especially genetic engineering offers can be used as a deadly weapon against the humanity. Morrison’s clever observations are infused with sly, dark humor, and his intelligent worldbuilding make the place and character come alive. This is ingenious storytelling at its best.
Note: This title is free on Kindle Unlimited.
The Perfection of Fish
By J.S. Morrison
Black Rose Writing
Pub date July 9, 2020
Price $21.95 (USD) paperback, $4.64 Kindle edition
Categories: Science Fiction