Review: “Ganymede,” Jason Taylor

Rating: 5 out of 5

Jason Taylor’s Ganymede is nearly impossible to review without giving some things away, just because there is SO MUCH going on. But I’ll do my best.

It’s World Zero, and the year is 2080. Jill is working on the seemingly-impossible feat of human cloning. Other creatures can be cloned, but there seems to be something blocking the process of discovery when it comes to humans. After a co-worker of hers is found dead, and he leaves a memory print behind for her, she finds out she’s in danger from the military, who want her research in order to make the perfect soldier. Eight years later, she oversees four seven-year-old girls who are clones, and who have suddenly started acting very strangely–not to mention, dangerously.

In the year 2080, people want “the ideal child,” and a certain amount of genetic modification is in play. People get neural implants at birth that allow them to interact with the world through their mind in new and fascinating ways. They also live longer, healthier lives thanks to science. Some years ago the Great Unrest happened, and so many people were killed that women now outnumber men 3:1, and as it’s believed that women aren’t (on the whole) as violent and aggressive as men, female children are preferred.

Things are a bit slow toward the beginning of the book. There are some info-dumps on the state of the world, talk show discussions between a bio-ethicist and a religious leader, etc. I think these could have been tightened up.

One other very minor thing: in the 2080s, people view the world through their implant’s “filter.” At one point Jill ends up seeing a facility without that filter in place and is surprised by how different it (and one of the people) looks. We’ve seen her view things without her filter before, though, and she didn’t have this reaction. I couldn’t understand how the before-and-after could be that different without anyone having noticed. I would think certain machines would have acted differently, or people would have realized that individuals don’t always look the way they “really” look.

The clones become fascinating characters, particularly June, who seems a little less… inhuman… than the other clones. I can’t even begin to get into how things go once the clones start to change, because it would give away so much of the book in which really fascinating things happen. Despite the slow start, things do get exciting. Don’t worry; that “World Zero” reference I mentioned earlier will definitely factor into what is going on. The story changes in ways that most authors would have trouble carrying off, but it’s handled beautifully in this book.

This is a fantastic story and I really hope the author puts out a sequel. It’s self-contained, but more would be wonderful!

Content note for death, but this is no horror novel, so that’s pretty much it.

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