Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Recently, I read an article in The Week regarding the possibility of finding conditions favorable for life forms on other planets and was startled when I discovered astrophysicist Stephen Hawking's viewpoint about looking for these life forms. The startling statement was that Hawking believes any signals we send out could cause a visit from a far superior alien civilization intent on either destroying or colonizing planet earth.

The article reminded me of passages in Victoria Sullivan's new speculative fiction book, Rogue Genes, a sequel to Adoption. Both books concern a species of scientifically engineered humans called "polyploids" who have multiple sets of chromosomes, which endow them with large size, phenomenal strength, and superior intelligence. The polyploid characters become mature adults by the age of six and are eventually banished to a reservation in a community called "Polysomia." They receive no respect from diploids (ordinary human beings with only two sets of chromosomes), are declared to be another species, and denied rights of ordinary humans because of their conspicuous differences.

This passage from Rogue Genes caused me to wonder what our attitude toward the discovery of alien creatures would be: 

"Mary lay awake a long time dreaming of a just world that accepted polyploids. Perhaps separation was the only way. The British, Americans, and Europeans had separated themselves from the native peoples in colonial Africa and other parts of the world. The colonizing Americans made no attempt to merge cultures. Native Americans were severely oppressed and required to give up their culture, religion, land, and mores in order to survive. And still they were treated as second-class citizens and when they fought back they were isolated on reservations. After generations, surviving natives began mimicking the attitudes of the colonizers by despising their native ways. 

"How did this apply to polys [polyploids]? Would polys be the colonizers, superior in understanding the modern world? Although outnumbered, polys were superior in nearly every way...the intellectual and physical abilities of polys were far superior to diploids. [Mary] could scan a book as fast as she could turn the pages and remember every word. Where did that ability fit into the diploid world? How could diploids compete with that? Where did that leave diploids? How could polys be taught to respect a truly inferior group?...

"Only in the purist of religions are people exhorted to love one another. Jesus sought out, mingled, ate, and talked with the oppressed. But the message of Christianity had been distorted throughout history to exclude and rid the world of the 'other.' In the name of Christ, crusaders killed infidels. Churches seemed to be more about excluding sinners, judged by a list of accepted behaviors... 

"Fighting for your people was age-old. Either you suited up and did what you needed to do or you died out or died inside from depression or addiction like some American Indian tribesmen had done and still do. For American Indians, the option to interbreed with whites had led to their extinction as separate cultures. That wasn't an option for polys..."

Sullivan, a biologist, has posed similar questions to those of Hawking in this fascinating speculative fiction, and readers who enjoyed Adoption will find an action-packed read in Rogue Genes that redefines a world which has touted itself as "inclusive."

Available at http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Genes-Victoria-I-Sullivan-ebook/dp/B00OARFVLC or order from Border Press Books (http://www.borderpressbooks.com), PO Box 3124, Sewanee TN 37375.

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