Monday, June 10, 2013

Words Devoured: The Curiosity

When I started reading The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan, it was slow-going for me. I stuck to my guns, though, and really enjoyed it quite a bit. It offers some interesting science ideas, and poses some head-scratching questions as well.

The chapters of the novel are point-of-view, featuring three characters (at first): Kate Philo, a biologist; Daniel Dixon, a reporter; and Erastus Carthage, an incredibly rich man who backs a scientific endeavor.

This endeavor involved reanimating life found flash frozen in icebergs. On one expedition, a human being is found inside of one. This human was a judge from 1908 named Jeremiah Rice (who also happens to be the fourth point-of-view character).

Rice is brought back to life, though it is unknown how to keep him alive. His metabolism is in overdrive and he is capable of just burning out. With opposition from Carthage, Kate seems to fall for him, so a love story develops as well.

The ideas behind the science are more realistic/believable than, say, Jurassic Park. They make you think about what modern science is capable of. Could we reanimate someone who has been frozen (the novel speaks of a freezing process that is different than cryonics)?

Then that leads to the question (though I don't believe in God) should we play "God" and reanimate people, or should the dead stay dead? The question of the ethics is raised by protesters in the novel.

Kiernan handles the science well, and the character development, too.

Jeremiah is an intriguing character, because he comes from a time long before our own. Seeing him "catch up" on years of history is great, if heartbreaking.

Seeing his relationship with Kate, Dixon, Carthage (and the others) sets him into contrast with them. His ideals are quaint, and make for fresh storytelling.

I really enjoyed The Curiosity, and am glad I stuck with it. No matter how slow-going it seemed, it picked up and moved along at a rather good clip. I definitely recommend it!

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