Brilliant geneticist Howard Wake has one life-defining dream: to advance human evolution, starting with his own kids. Under the radar of agencies that have outlawed all but the tamest science, he builds a tool designed to probe the darkest crypts in the human genome for buried treasure. But rousing ancient DNA from its age-old slumber is a risky undertaking. To create his children safely, Howard needs to enlist Jacqueline Witt, who has engineered a secret of her own. Before he can convince his friend and colleague to help him, Howard is forced to disappear into the science underground. Deciding that it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, he takes everything he needs with him.
Eight years later, Howard’s kids are helping him run a garage lab in Massachusetts—but federal agents are only a step behind, the twins’ sleeping DNA is beginning to stir, and Jacqueline has tracked down the man who stole what she values most ... and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it back.
CRISPR Evolution was a first-place winner in the PNWA literary contest and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award and Grand Prize, the Foreword INDIES Awards, the Indies Today Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, the Readers' Favorite Awards, and the Page Turner Awards. Fans of Paolo Bacigalupi, Michael Crichton, and Octavia Butler will love this tale of genetic roguery in a world where free inquiry has become a rare and dangerous commodity.
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Praise for CRISPR Evolution
A Sci-fi with strong cinematic framing that promises to reshape its genre
"CRISPR Evolution" is a heart-in-your-throat page-turner in the Sci-Fi genre by award-winning author Charis Jones. The narrative follows Howard Wake, a virtuoso in heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics in a futuristic world, who is determined to defy the government regulations and laws that have been put in place to tame genetic engineering that goes beyond the usual research scope.
There is something simultaneously fresh and traditional in the novel's comfort with omniscient narration, and its relaxed style manages to beguile new readers to speculative fiction. It conveys the spinning sense of a future that outstrips a single existence and feels synchronously optimistic, poignant, and even celebratory. With a stirring preface, Jones employs her years of experience as a research professor in this narrative, perhaps using it as a medium of choice to pass on an explosive panorama of what makes up our genetic formation.
"CRISPR Evolution" is a five-star read that provides conjectural ideation on genetic enhancement technologies, including their moral and civil implications through richly imagined characters and settings. The author is strong on atmosphere, illuminating vast tracts of imagery, and her uniquely supple and powerful style is even more clear-cut. Its enamoring ending and epilogue are decent and fulfilling, giving special send-offs to its characters. Wildly original and intelligently drawn, "CRISPR Evolution" will enthrall sci-fi fans.
Lily Andrews for Reader Views
This thoroughly engaging work of speculative fiction rejuvenated my love for science fiction. Set in the near future, it has a dystopian theme. FIBR closely monitors most of the ongoing biological research projects. The independently working scientists must flee underground, keeping themselves off FIBR’s radar. The beauty of the storyline is that, although imaginary, this scenario never seems far-fetched. Based on the issues the research community faces today, such a future seems all too plausible. Charis Jones shows how a combination of funding crunches, government intervention, and misinterpretation of results by the media could ultimately hinder scientific progress. At the same time, this thought-provoking story raises questions about the interplay of science and ethics. The characters are spellbinding, each shining in their own light and demanding center stage. As a brilliant and dedicated rogue scientist with a questionable sense of ethics, Dr. Howard Wake changed my outlook on a hero.
While hardcore scientific facts form the book's foundation, Jones’ literary tweaks help it soar to unprecedented heights. I especially loved the visuals of a cell, with chromosome rafts and glittering hubs of gene transcription, the busy proteins, and enzymes having distinct personalities. In CRISPR Evolution, Jones recounts the beauty of life and imagines the unleashing of one’s full potential. I recommend it to those who appreciate science fiction. This story would be perfect for the fans of Michael Crichton’s Next.
Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite
This gripping and accomplished debut novel imagines a near future where, after the initial jolts of a revolution in gene editing, the federal government centralizes biomedical research and development, and independent geneticists like Howard Wake go underground.
Jones spins this heady story in smart, engaging prose, attuned to her casts’ individual perspectives, alive to the surprising details of an increasingly automated American future. The science is clear and persuasive—Jones is a biomedical researcher—but presented with an emphasis on its application. For all its family drama and on-the-run suspense, this is a novel about where we’re headed—and how we might not be able to control what changes. It’s a thriller but anchored in the literary wing of science fiction, driven by character, given to colloquies, and often evocative in its descriptions of diners and the mushrooms that, in a well-plotted jolt, prove essential to both the development of the story and our species.
Through it all, Jones is committed to capturing what this future feels like—and to dramatizing the evolutionary imperative with both exciting scenes and grand revelations of the sort readers of serious science fiction will find thrilling.
Takeaway: This superb science fiction novel finds a family on the run—and on the cusp of an evolutionary leap.
Great for fans of: Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl.
Over the course of this novel, Jones crafts a narrative that makes its concepts clear without belaboring the scientific aspects. Howard and Jacqueline are likable, deftly drawn characters, and Aurie and Py are similarly engaging—precocious, sometimes otherworldly, but still recognizably children. The society in which they live is a dark but believable extrapolation from present-day attitudes toward research funding, and the novel handles its moral questions sensitively and fairly throughout. It’s a testament to Jones’ skillful storytelling that readers may find themselves unsure how they want Aurie’s transformation to play out in the end.
A tale that provides readers with a penetrating and thought-provoking glimpse into a possible not-so-distant future.
A work of genius
It is rare to come across a writer who combines such a profound intellect with their literary and artistic gifts. Ms. Jones work is an exploration of the very essence of what it is to be human … and of destiny itself. A brilliant scientist has taken us on a thrilling, visionary journey that explores the very limits of human potential and beyond! It is a journey well worth taking and a MUST read!
Frederick R. Friedel
Film director, producer, and screenwriter
A beautifully moving book centered around humanity’s relationship with genetic engineering.
With a headstrong and intelligent protagonist in Howard, the book follows the lives of a family of garage biologists in a future world where genetic engineering is severely limited and monitored by the government. Understandable scientific terminology is adroitly interwoven with an engaging plot as one unlikely family battles against tough odds for survival.
Charis Jones (aka Charis Himeda, PhD) is a research professor and co-founder of Renogenyx, a company dedicated to developing treatments for Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. She won the FSHD Society's inaugural Young Investigator award, and has been interviewed by The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and The Boston Business Journal for engineering FSHD therapeutics using CRISPR gene modifying technology.
At night, Dr. Himeda doffs her lab gloves to pen speculative fiction about renegade scientists who do things she would never dream of doing. She is a three-time winner in the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association (PNWA) contest; a winner in the Sandy, the Zebulon, and the Colorado Gold contests; a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards, the Foreword INDIES Awards, the Indies Today Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, the Readers' Favorite Awards, and the Page Turner Awards; a semifinalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards; and a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines and in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021.
Dr. Himeda is a member of PNWA and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and she lives in Reno, Nevada.