Good science fiction often involves just tinkering with one or two aspects of the normal laws of nature. In 7th Son: Descent, author J.C. Hutchins imagines that the US government have made huge advances in human cloning , though not entirely perfected it.
But the cloning programme is out of control. Seven men are abducted and taken to the government cloning site. All the same age. Similar appearance. Identical childhood memories. A priest, a hacker, a musician, a marine, a researcher, a UN human rights agent, and a TV psychologist.
A four year old child has assassinated the US president. The seven clones are charged with tracking down the donor of their DNA and the mastermind behind the president’s death. Working together, are the seven more powerful than the original one?
Confusion and fear. Black ops. Computer hacking. Half truths and complicated emotions as parents motives turn out to have been driven by grooming rather than nurture.
It’s a good page turning thriller with echoes of Dean Koontz and none of the waffle of Dan Brown. If I’m critical, it’s too US-centric. Some of the plot devices are a bit artificial: the new arrivals go on an extensive tour of the underground facility, as much for the reader’s benefit as the characters. On the upside, the technology described is very up to date.
Turns out that the book is an early example of a new fiction genre – podcast novel. It’s a new twist on self publishing, with authors releasing chapters online and building momentum, reputation and the chance that a publisher will agree to print the completed book.