Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer
Tor, 1997
paperback, 343 pages
ISBN: 0812571088
medical science fiction
highly recommended

From the cover:
This is the story of Pierre Tardivel, a scientist, and his complex battle against a deadly illness, an ex-Nazi war criminal still hiding in the U.S., a crooked insurance company, and a plot to make Pierre and his wife the victims of a bizarre genetic experiment. Frameshift is hard science fiction at its best, full of complications and neat surprises

Winner of the Seiun Award (Japan) and a finalist for the Hugo Award.
My thoughts:

Frameshift was a very entertaining enjoyable medical science fiction thriller from Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer. The plot threads were well planned and executed, the writing is good, the character development is strong. Even though it was originally published in 1997, the science held together remarkably well. There might be some quibbles to be found in the portrayal of how health insurance works in the U.S., and a few unnecessary scenes, but I felt that these were minor in comparison to everything Sawyer did right. This was my first Robert Sawyer novel and I plan to look for more. Highly recommended


It seemed an unlikely place to die.
During the academic year, twenty-three thousand full-time students milled about the well-treed grounds of the University of California Berkeley. But on this cool June night, the campus was mostly empty. opening

"Exactly," replied Pierre. "Klimus wants perfection, and I guess he's entitled to it. But the whole point of the Human Genome Project is to find out what makes us human, and humans sometimes make mistakes." pg. 4

The punk had a bowie knife in his right hand. It was difficult to make out in the darkness except for the reflection of the streetlamps off the fifteen-inch blade. He was holding it underhanded, as if he'd intended to thrust it up into Pierre's back. pg. 6

"Why would a neo-Nazi be after me?" said Pierre, into the darkness. He exhale noisily. "Hell, why would anyone go to the trouble of trying to kill me? After all..." He trailed off, the English sentence already formed in his mind, but deciding not to give it voice.
But Molly could tell what he had been about to say, and she drew him closer to her, holding him tightly.
After all, Pierre Tardivel had thought, I'll probably be dead soon anyway. pg. 10

He was a monster.
A devil.
Evil incarnate.
His first name was Ivan. His last name was unknown, and so the Jews dubbed him Ivan the Terrible. He had arrived at the camp a year before, in July 1942. pg. 15

"Huntington's is carried on a dominant gene," said Dr. Laviolette to Pierre, in French. "You have precisely a fifty-fifty chance of getting it." pg. 27

At the age of thirty-two, Pierre was appointed a distinguished postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, situated on a hilltop above the University of California, Berkeley. He was assigned to the Human Genome Project, the international attempt to map and sequence all the DNA that makes up a human being. pg. 52

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