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★★★★★

“Thrilling and well worth reading”

Written on: 15/07/2015 by plappen (120 reviews written)

The Genius Dilemma, Dustin Grinnell, 2014, ISBN 9781495998423

This novel is about an attempt to artificially enhance the abilities of the human brain.

Richard Powell is the CEO of Cerebrical, a high-tech company that has created Trillium, a serum that it says will create geniuses. To get much-needed venture capital financing, the company needs a well-known neuroscientist as its public "face." Alan Price is a world-renowned Stanford researcher who has fallen on scientific hard times after switching to the "dead end" of investigating Alzheimer's Disease. The venture capital meeting does not go well.

The US military has a secret unit called Project Genesis. Sophisticated computer algorithms are used to predict which politicians, or rebel leaders, around the world are going to pose a threat to America in the future. They are then assassinated before they can do anything. Project Genesis is very interested in Trillium, and it is administered to the members of the team. It really does increase their IQ by a lot, but, naturally, there is a huge and unpleasant side effect. A member of the team kills the other members, and takes off on what he is convinced is a mission to keep America safe.

The latest victim of Project Genesis was Nassir Lwazi, the president of Kenya. He was a tyrant who pitted the two main tribal groups against each other. The whole country is on edge, just waiting for the spark to start a civil war (can anyone say "Rwandan Genocide, Part 2?"). Thomas Amani is a student at Harvard who does not know that Lwazi was his father. He feels compelled to go to Kenya to bring peace, even though he has no idea what he is going to say. The surviving member of Project Genesis is totally convinced that Amani is just as much of a tyrant as his father. Therefore, Amani must die, along with the American President, who is there as part of the "peace process." Can he be stopped? Is there any way to reduce the influence of the side effect? Can Trillium lead to a cure for Alzheimer's Disease?

This story works really well. It works as a regular political thriller, and the scientific part feels very plausible. I am not sure why the book was printed with every line double spaced, making it twice as thick as necessary, but it is still a first-rate piece of writing.

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